On March 8, UM Carey Law will host Family, Privacy, Secrets & the Law Roundtable, an interdisciplinary conference engaging the intersections of medicine, criminal law, family law, and constitutional law. The conference is the first of its kind to examine the ways in which the law promotes and also undermines family privacy.
As part of the event, there will be a book reading on March 7 at 5 p.m. by Jonathan Odell, keynote speaker and author of The Healing, which tells the forgotten story of race, medicine, and midwifery during the U.S. antebellum period.
“Secret keeping is not only a social norm within many families and societies, but, as it turns out, a conflicting feature within the law,” said conference organizer Michele Goodwin, a visiting professor at UM Carey Law. “There are times in which the law protects secrets, such as those between lawyer and client, doctor and patient, or clergy and congregant. Yet, there are times when the law demands that secret-keepers reveal their confidences, such as the increasing demand on doctors to disclose confidential medical information to law enforcement.”
The delicate balance between a client’s expectation of privacy and the competing interests of the public in regards to health and safety will be discussed during four panels by prominent experts in a variety of fields.
The four panels are:
- Genetic Privacy: Secret Mothers, Fathers, and Lives;
- Public Versus Private: Courts & Law Enforcement
- Minors, Networks, Sexuality, and Privacy
- Reimaging Privacy
The roundtable considers states’ obligations to protect the vulnerable and at what cost. It considers the way in which the law promises or owes protection and the success, failure, or harm it brings about when endeavoring to intervene.
“The protection of privacy has been a central value since the nation began,” says Lori Andrews, professor of law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. “New technologies, such as Facebook, allow outsiders to peer into people’s private lives, causing some commentators to declare that privacy is dead. But protecting privacy is crucial to protecting other rights, such as freedom of speech and association and parents’ rights to make decisions about how to bring up a child.”