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Imagine Health Care Without a Conscience

Trinity CommunicationsMarch 08, 2018

Increasingly today people insist that there should be no place for conscience to guide the actions of healthcare professionals. Is there no place for conscience today, or can it be allowed to operate within definable limits?

On March 20, the Trinity Bioethics Lectureship will focus its inaugural public lecture and discussion on “Rights of Conscience in Health Care: Imagine Your Doctor or Nurse without a Conscience.” Everyone is invited to hear Dr. Christopher Hook, pioneer of bioethics at Mayo Clinic, address this issue.

Following the lecture there will be time for Q/A and discussion, and then refreshments. The lectureship will be in Kantzer Auditorium at Trinity International University, starting at 7:00 p.m. The evening is free and open to all. If you cannot make it to campus that night, the lecture can be streamed live or thereafter at

As a medical doctor, Hook serves as an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he has been on staff since joining as an internal medicine resident in 1987. He is a graduate of Greenville (Illinois) College and the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois. He also received training in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Long recognized for his work in the area of ethics, Hook has been invited to testify before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and to present a briefing to the U.S. Senate staff concerning the Pain Relief Promotion Act.

Hook is initiating The Project on Future Ethics, which he describes as “a large-scale, cooperative, prospective study to evaluate the ethical questions and challenges of coming technologies, and to provide careful, reasoned recommendations for their use.”

In addition to being a leading ethicist at Mayo Clinic, Hook is a fellow in Trinity’s Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity (CBHD) and a practicing Christian.

Organizers of the Trinity Bioethics Lectureship say the discussion Hook will lead extends beyond bringing a Christian perspective to the many bioethical issues in health care that call for careful examination.

“We’re in a time right now when people from a lot of different stripes are trying to impose their views and their values on society as a whole,” said John F. Kilner, director of Trinity bioethics programs. “That’s why we’re proactively inviting everybody to come, because they have a personal stake in this.”

Plans are already underway for a second program next year. Two graduates of Trinity Graduate School’s bioethics program have endowed the lectureship in perpetuity.

“(The donors) think Trinity’s bioethics program is something that is so desperately needed by the church and the world,” Kilner said. “They really are concerned that there’s not enough discussion of bioethics going on at Christian schools or even in the public at large.”

The format for the lectureship calls for an initial presentation from Hook, followed by a formal time of question-and-answer directly with the speaker. Then during a time for refreshments, smaller groups will form, with the opportunity for individual questions and discussions with Hook.

Trinity hosts CBHD’s annual bioethics conference in June that attracts participants from across the country. But Kilner says the new lectureship expands an important dimension of CBHD’s work.

“We now have more funding to bring in anybody in the country — those who are widely respected in the world at large, in both Christian and secular arenas,” Kilner said. “Trinity is a place that’s wrestling with today’s tough bioethical questions.”

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