Margaret Somerville is Professor of Bioethics and an Affiliate of the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Prior to moving back to Australia, she held professorships in both the Faculty of Law –holding the Samuel Gale Chair– and the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and was the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. She has been active in the worldwide development of bioethics and in the study of the wider legal and ethical aspects of medicine and science.
Professor Somerville is widely published and has been an invited speaker at numerous international conferences on ethical and legal aspects of science and society. In 2004 she was named the first recipient of the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science and delivered the 2006 Massey Lectures.
She has received Honorary Doctorates in Law from the University of Windsor (1992); Macquarie University, Australia (1993); St. Francis Xavier University (1996); and the University of Waterloo (2004); an Honorary Doctorate in Science from Ryerson University (2006); an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University (2009); and Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters, St. Mark’s College, British Columbia (2010).
In February 2013, she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In September 2014, she received the inaugural Jean Echlin Award for Ethics in Palliative Care.
Professor Somerville's books include: Death Talk: the Case Against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (2001), The Ethical Canary: Science, Society, and the Human Spirit (2003), The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit (2006) and Birds on an Ethics Wire. Battles about Values in the Culture Wars (2015).
STI interviewed Professor Somerville about Birds on an Ethics Wire in May, 2016, and published her article "A Modest Proposal for Respecting Physicians’ Freedom of Conscience" in January, 2015.