Browne Lewis, the Leon M. and Gloria Plevin Professor of Law presented on the impact that technology has on autonomy from the cradle to the grave and beyond.
On July 24, 2015, Professor Lewis presented at the Midwest People of Color Scholarship Conference in Havana, Cuba. Professor Lewis’ presentation was about the technology that permits patients to live longer. Unfortunately, that same technology causes terminally ill persons to spend more time experiencing severe pain and other side effects. Professor Lewis discussed the ethical and legal issues that may arise if physician-assisted suicide is made available to terminally-ill children in order to relieve pain and suffering. She discussed two main questions-Should the law permit physician-assisted suicide to be used to end the lives of minor children suffering from terminal illnesses? Should the minor child be included in the decision-making process? Currently, only five American states have legalized physician-assisted suicide. However, the procedure cannot be used to end the lives of terminally ill persons who are under the age of eighteen. Recently, Belgium removed the age restriction on physician-assisted suicide in order to permit parents to request lethal medication for their dying children.
On July 29, 2015, Professor Lewis presented at the Southeastern American Law Schools (SEALS) Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida. In her presentation, Professor Lewis discussed the technology that make posthumous reproduction possible. The presentation consisted of an overview of Professor Lewis’ book on posthumous reproduction that is forthcoming from Routledge Press. According to Professor Lewis, the number of persons seeking to use the gametes of dead people to conceive children is increasing. Professor Lewis talked about the need to balance the reproductive rights of the dead with the best interests of the child conceived as a consequence of posthumous reproduction. Professor Lewis also spoke about human oocyte cryopreservation/egg freezing. Young women are choosing to freeze their eggs for future use to defer motherhood while they pursue their careers or wait to meet “Mr. Right”. Opponents of the procedure argue that the government should ban the use of human oocyte cryopreservation or restrict its availability to women of child-bearing years.