Resistance: The Sixth Annual Northwestern Bioethics and Medical Humanities Conference

Friday, May 19, 2023

Save the Date

The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Graduate Program are excited to announce this one-day conference dedicated to engaging the Northwestern and Chicagoland community in the rich, multidisciplinary research and scholarship of our field.

Registration will be free and will open in February 2023.



Keynote Presentation

Louise P. King, MD, JD (Harvard Medical School) and Katie Watson, JD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) will consider clinicians’ options and obligations in response to criminal laws prohibiting the provision of abortion care.

When legislatures pit the freedom and livelihood of clinicians against the health and self-determination of pregnant people, what could or should resistance look like?


Call for Proposals

We are seeking proposals for short oral presentations, and invite submissions from health-care providers, fellows, faculty, graduate students and alumni, and medical students who have ties to Northwestern University or other medical centers and academic institutions throughout Illinois.

For this conference we encourage you to think about resistance in multifaceted ways. We welcome broad and even unexpected interpretations of the theme.

We are also interested in proposals that focus on other topics related to bioethics or medical humanities that are not directly tied to the theme.



This year’s conference theme invites scholarship and conversation about resistance. To resist something means to push against it, impeding or opposing its movement. In the science of medicine, the physics of resistance explains physiological fluid motion—think of Olm’s law (flow is equal to pressure gradient over resistance) and its place in the heart catheterization lab, or the intensive care unit. Resistance can also mean the immune system’s opposition to infection—and also pathogens’ evolving capacities to resist our immune responses and drugs. Human decision-making and action also include opposition and obstruction, and these components of resistance arise daily in medicine.

  • How do clinicians support patients or families who resist their medical recommendations?
  • What space do clinicians have to resist prescribing new or old therapies?
  • Should healthcare providers resist when laws obstruct them from giving their patients what they consider ethical care?
  • What obligations do we have to resist when systemic and structural determinants cause health injustices?

The submission deadline is Tuesday, January 31, 2023.



Baldwin Auditorium in the Lurie Research Building (not to be confused with the nearby Lurie Children’s Hospital). 303 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 


For More Information

Please contact: Bryan Morrison,