Congratulations to Our Greenwall Scholar, Glenn Cohen!

The Greenwall Foundation has selected Bill of Health co-editor, Glenn Cohen, to receive a Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics for 2012-2015. 

This career development award is intended to enable outstanding junior faculty members to carry out original research that will help resolve important policy and clinical dilemmas at the intersection of ethics and the life sciences.  Congrats, Glenn!

 

Should Mitt Romney (or Others Who are Pro-Life) Support Rape and Incest Exceptions to Abortion Bans?

by Glenn Cohen 

As America’s attention focused on the Republican Convention and the Obama campaign tries to portray a “Republican War on Women” at the Democratic one, last week Mitt Romney tried to clarify his position on abortion, namely: while he is generally against abortion, he would make an exception for cases where the mother has been raped or is the victim of incest. While politically savvy, based on other beliefs Mitt Romney has, this position is hard to defend if not incoherent.  Here is why: 

Mitt Romney, like most people who would outlaw abortion, must subscribe to two core beliefs: (1) Fetuses are persons and get the full panoply of the rights of persons from early on in their development (for Romney, like many, at “conception”), or at least possess a right not to be killed. (2) The mother’s interest in protecting her bodily integrity, making important reproductive or life choices, etc, does not outweigh the fetus’ right not to be killed. This is why Romney and other pro-lifers would prefer that abortion be banned even in the first trimester.

This logic is not incompatible with exception for the health or life of the mother. Through the well-known doctrine of self-defense, the criminal law has long recognized that an individual may be justified in killing to protect his or her own life, or possibly health, and these exceptions merely reflect a similar view as to fetuses.

The rape and incest exceptions, though, are on a different footing entirely.

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Meet the Editors – Glenn Cohen

Welcome to our blog!  We just wanted to introduce ourselves as the editors and thank you for stopping by.  We hope you’ll do so often.

First, say hi to I. Glenn Cohen (igcohen at law dot harvard dot edu).

Glenn is Professor at Harvard Law School and Faculty Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center.  This year, he’s also a Radcliffe Institute fellow, and from 2012-2015, he will be a Greenwall Faculty Scholar.

Glenn is one of the world’s leading experts on the intersection of bioethics and the law, as well as health law. From Seoul to Krakow to Vancouver, he has spoken at legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world, and his work has been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the BostonGlobe, and several other media venues.

Glenn’s current projects relate to reproduction/reproductive technology and to medical tourism – the travel of patients who are residents of one country, the “home country,” to another country, the “destination country,” for medical treatment. His past work has included projects on end of life decision-making, FDA regulation, research ethics, and commodification.  His award-winning academic work has appeared in the journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Stanford, Southern California, Georgetown Cornell, Minnesota, Iowa, and Hastings Law Reviews, the Harvard Journal of Law and Negotiation, the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, the Food and Drug Law Journal, the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, the American Journal of Public Health, and the Hastings Center Report.  He is the editor of “The Globalization of Healthcare: Legal and Ethical Challenges” (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming 2012), and is currently working on writing a new book “Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism, Ethics, and Law”.

Prior to joining the HLS faculty, Glenn served as a clerk to Chief Judge Michael Boudin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He also served as an appellate attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate staff, where he acted as lead counsel in over 12 Circuit Court cases and represented the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, in conjunction with the Solicitor General’s office. Immediately before joining the faculty he was a fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center.

Some of Glenn’s representative work includes: