On May 8, 2015, Teneille Brown, Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, will speak about one of her papers at Harvard Law School as part of the Petrie-Flom conference on Law, Religion and Health Care in America.
Brown’s talk is based on her new paper, “Accommodating Miracles,” the abstract of which follows:
Patients often pray for miracles at the end of life, when their providers find that continuing care would render no meaningful clinical benefit. In most states, providers are allowed to unilaterally withdraw care that is deemed to be medically ineffective, or “futile.” This paper reports on empirical findings from a survey of providers as to their experiences with patients praying for religious miracles in these circumstances. I will report on whether their decisions are influenced by the fear of being sued. Finally, the paper analyzes First Amendment Supreme Court precedent and state and federal Religious Freedom Restoration Acts to explain whether and how these avenues are likely to be successful routes for the families who pray for a miracle. Compliance with state medical futility statutes provide novel questions for free exercise analysis, as the request for more time to pray implicates the use of significant, and perhaps indefinite, hospital and provider resources.
For more information on the conference, click here.