Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-10-2021


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Joris Gielen

Committee Member

Gerard Magill

Committee Member

Peter Osuji


bioethics, religion, accommodation, limitations, undue hardship, Canada, USA


In late October 2017, a young Canadian Jewish man was at the center of a storm that involved ethics, religion, law and policy He had been unconscious for a month and doctors deemed him brain dead. The Jewish community, and his family, wished to keep him on life support, since their religion did not consider brain death to be ‘death.’ This clash between medical and religious perspectives poignantly illustrates the unique and growing challenges posed by religious observance in Canada’s secular healthcare system. A similar story is found in America. In December 2019, a story was published demonstrating fears that if a Catholic hospital merged with its rural secular peer, women requiring (or requesting) abortions would no longer receive them. Often, Catholic hospitals are in rural areas and the only healthcare institutions for miles. Both health professionals and religious adherents share the belief in the primacy of their mandated point of view in decision making in critical care and end of life situations. A multicultural society boasts a polyglot of religions, which enjoy an entrenched legal guarantee of religious freedom; subsequently, there is a call to ground bioethics within secularism. This dissertation explores various cases and scenarios in medicine where Jewish and Catholic ethics clash with secular bioethics. This dissertation does three things: promote a ‘dual approach’ towards accommodation; create a concrete definition for ethical undue hardship and; create a framework for ethical limitations on religious accommodations at both the individual and institutional level.