Dunja Begović, PhD candidate in Bioethics & Medical Jurisprudence, University of Manchester received an IME Conference Grant to present orally at the 33rd European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine & Health Care, Oslo, Aug 2019. Read her report below:

This summer I received an IME conference grant to cover the registration fees for the 2019 annual conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare (ESPMH) 'Philosophy and Ethics at the Edge of Medicine', taking place at the University of Oslo, 7-10 August 2019. This is one of the largest European bioethics events, attracting scholars from all parts of the continent as well as the rest of the world, so as a PhD student I was honoured to have the opportunity to present at it. As the conference fee is quite high, the support of the IME was essential for my attendance.

Taking place over three days with 6-8 parallel sessions running each morning and afternoon, covering a wide range of themes from all areas of bioethics, the conference offered so many possibilities that the greatest challenge for me was to decide which talks to attend. In line with my research interests, which are primarily in reproductive ethics and particularly related to women's autonomy in pregnancy, I made sure to be there for parallel sessions like 'The limits of autonomy', 'Mothers and embryos' (in which I also presented my paper Maternal-fetal surgery: A challenge to existing notions?') and 'Genomics and reproductive medicine', where I heard some fascinating talks on issues such as obtaining informed consent electronically (Kristi Lõuk, University of Tartu), regulating surrogacy (Katarzyna Korbacz, University of Warsaw), the reification of the human embryo (Anna Smajdor, University of Oslo), and posthumous paternity (Edna Katzenelson, Tel Aviv University), among others. I also dropped into various other sessions to attend presentations on diverse subjects like epistemic injustice in clinical ethics consultation (Søren Holm, University of Manchester), self-harm and relational autonomy (Petra Gelhaus, University of Münster), body modifications for gender expression (Timothy Murphy, Hastings Center), the meaning of genetic connections and the notion of family (Daniela Cutas, Umeå University); as well as ethical commentary on cases like the He Jiankui scandal, focusing on its implications for social justice and solidarity in genetics (Darryl Gunson, University of the West of Scotland), and the Tuskegee syphilis study, shedding a light on the untold stories of the participants' wives (RayLee Otero-Bell). In general, I found all the talks I attended illuminating and relevant in different ways, and can only wonder what other interesting research I might have missed due to overlap between sessions.

Another great aspect of the ESPMH conference were the special seminars on particular topics, where invited speakers gave short presentations followed by a discussion and questions from the audience. Unfortunately, these also overlapped with the parallel sessions making the choice of what to attend even more difficult! However, I am definitely glad that I started off the conference at the special session on 'New-old ethical perspectives on the development of prenatal testing practices', as this is a topic I find highly engaging having written one of the papers in my PhD about it. It was really exciting to hear from scholars doing both empirical and theoretical work on this subject, in the context of different cultural, legal and ethical settings. Tamar Nov Klaiman of Ben Gurion University presented her research on the attitudes of parents towards non-invasive prenatal testing for Down's Syndrome in Israel, highlighting how societal views relate to parental decisions, while Stefan Reisch of the University of Lübeck gave an interesting empirically founded comparison of how women in Germany and Israel respectively perceive the issue of health insurance coverage for this kind of testing. Vardit Ravitsky of the University of Montreal discussed the future of prenatal testing in the light of the increasing transparency of the fetus, while Aviad Raz and Yael Hashiloni-Dolev presented their research on the parental and professional experiences of participating in prenatal testing. The ensuing discussion looked in more depth at the ethical implications of social context and the development of testing practices, which I found fascinating and very relevant for my own research.

I am very thankful to the IME for their generous support which allowed me to attend this conference and present my paper, as well as expand my bioethical horizons on a variety of fascinating subjects. 

Dunja Begović, PhD candidate in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence, Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester