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Religious Interest Groups in Irish Bioethics Debates

Date: 6 March 2013 Time: 2.00 pm

Venue: FASS MR 3

Dr Sorcha Ui Chonnachtaigh ( University of Keele), research interests fall into two main categories: ethics, particularly bioethics, and justice and equality.She is interested in ethical issues around stem cell research and reproductive technologies, euthanasia and the medical and legal regulation of sex and gender (particularly regarding the treatment of intersex children). While her recent research activity has focused on bioethical issues,her interest in feminist and queer theories (particularly medical and legal aspects of regulating gender and sexuality) is an area she would like to expand on in the future.

In this paper,she will first examine what constitutes a special interest group.She isspecifically concerned with whether institutions of organised religion, such as the Catholic Church, can be considered a special interest group. Second,she will evaluate the role of special interest groups in public policy debates relating to medicine and the biosciences. The focus here will be on two debates: first, the involvement of the Irish Catholic Bishops Committee for Bioethics and Youth Defence in the public debate on embryonic stem cell research, and second, the recent public discussion of the Savita Halappanavar case, which raised issues around Irish abortion law.She will identify the advantages and challenges of religious special interest groups in the Irish context.Her central conclusion will be that religious interest groups are not in themselves problematic but that we need to review the system in which interest groups interact with the public and policy-makers.


Who can attend: Anyone


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Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Bioethics and Medical Law, Law


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