Last updated on: 8/14/2014 | Author:

Margaret Somerville, LLB, DCL Biography

Professor of Bioethics in the School of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame Australia
Con to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"

“Whatever one’s views in that regard, respect for life (a preferable term to sanctity of life to avoid religious connotations and associations) is not just a religious value, it’s a foundational value of all societies in which reasonable people would want to live, as the Charter of Rights recognizes. It is foundational to what German philosopher Jurgen Habermas calls ‘the ethics of the [human] species’ and I call ‘human ethics’, which must guide secular societies such as Canada…

Those who see all humans as having dignity just because they are human, believe that respect for life requires that we do not intentionally kill another human being or help them to kill themselves, which means that euthanasia and assisted suicide must remain legally prohibited.”

Margaret Somerville, “Why Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Must Remain Legally Prohibited,” Globe and Mail, Feb. 14, 2014

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor of Bioethics, School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Samuel Gale Chair and Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 1989-2016
  • Professor, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 1984-2016
  • Recipient, Jean Echlin Prize for Ethics in Palliative Care awarded by The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, Sep. 2014
  • Consultant, Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, among other organizations
  • Recipient, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Feb. 2013
  • Recipient, Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters, St. Mark’s College (Canada), 2010
  • Recipient, Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, Mount Saint Vincent University, 2009
  • Recipient, Honorary Doctorate in Science, Ryerson University, 2006
  • Recipient, UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science, 2004
  • Recipient, Honorary Doctorates in Law, University of Windsor, 1992; Macquarie University (Australia), 1993; St. Francis Xavier University, 1996
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1991; University of Waterloo, 2004
  • Recipient, Order of Australia, 1990
  • Founding Director, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law, 1986-1996
  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 1980-1984
  • DCL (Doctor of Civil Law), McGill University, 1978
  • LLB, with honors, Sydney University, 1973
  • AuA (Australian pharmacy degree), Pharmacy, University of Adelaide, 1963
  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 1979-1984
  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 1978-1979
Quoted in:
  1. Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?
  2. Should Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Extended to People Who Are Not Terminally Ill?