The Role of Faith in Health Care Decisions

September 29, 2014

The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, in partnership with Phillips Theological Seminary and the Women’s & Gender Studies Department at the University of Tulsa, will be hosting a community forum on Thursday, October 9 at 7pm in the Allen Chapman Student Union at the University of Tulsa.  The title of the forum is “The Role of Faith in Health Care Decisions: Individuals, Groups and Government.”

Our forum will consist of a panel discussion by local, regional and national experts in the fields of faith, ethics and law as they relate to the delivery of health care in the USA.  This event is free and open to the public.

Our objective is to help re-formulate questions, rather than provide answers.  We will be approaching this from the standpoint that faith IS a part of our current health care model, and is a factor in decisions made by providers and recipients alike. We will talk about the impact on providers of being asked to perform medical procedures (or offer alternatives) that are in conflict with their moral compass, as well as the impact on recipients of health care options being limited by faith- or ethics-based decisions of others. (Such limitations range from pharmacists refusing to dispense Plan B drugs to legislation limiting end-of-life/euthanasia options.)

We will be operating under the premise that individuals, groups and government have the right under the US Constitution to make decisions based upon their conscience, so we will not address the justifications for any such decisions, nor the question of whether any such decisions are “right or wrong.” Rather, we will start from the point at which such decisions are made, and then discuss the impact on health care. (For example, we will not discuss whether the decision of many Catholic-affiliated hospitals to not allow tubal ligations is justifiable, but we will discuss how that decision impacts health care in areas where the only hospital is Catholic-affiliated.)

Our moderator will ask panelists to address issues from a pre-selected list of questions.  Attendees will be able to submit questions in writing  that will be pre-screened and then given to the moderator.  Because of time constraints, all questions may not be addressed.  To improve chances of questions being addressed, please submit them in advance via email.


Dr John Schumann, MD (moderator), a well-known blogger ( and guest host of “Studio Tulsa” on radio station KWGS.  Dr Schumann is also Associate Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at OU.

Bradley Henderson, JD, Legal Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the ACLU.  Mr Henderson is a former Ass’t District Attorney focusing on domestic violence cases.

Monica Harrington, Editor of and board member of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Ms Harrington is a former Sr Policy Analyst for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mark Fox, MD, PhD, MPH, Associate Dean for Community Health and Research Development, OU School of Community Medicine.  Dr Fox also serves as the Medical Director of the Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic, and Youth Services of Tulsa. Dr Fox is a nationally-recognized expert on the ethical implications of health policy and innovation, ethical issues in organ and tissue donation and transplantation, and research ethics.

Marguerite Chapman, JD, LLM, is Professor Emeritus of the School of Law at the University of Tulsa.  She specializes in health care law and biomedical ethics.

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