At the boundaries of law and ethics: How the legal system addresses social issues concerning life and death

From the series “Viv(r)e la recherche en droit”. English closed captions available.
VIV(R)E LA RECHERCHE EN DROIT  Aux confins du droit et de l’éthique La recherche en droit pour l’actualisation juridique des questions sociales concernant la vie et la mort  ENGLISH TRANSCRIPT  [Logo: uOttawa, Faculté de droit | Faculty of Law, Section de droit civil | Civil Law Section]  [Series title]  LIVING  RESEARCH IN LAW  [Subtitles]  Access to justice  Knowledge Mobilization  Access to Knowledge  Justice Mobilization  [The following text appears on screen over an image of the cover of La declaration universelle des droits de l’homme]  The laws most crucial laws to our fundamental rights do not always reflect social realities   [The words de l’homme are scratched out and replaced with de la personne before the next text appears]  and do not always respond to contemporary ethical questions.  Michelle Giroux:  [Voice-over as the words below appear on screen]  Should medical assistance in dying be offered alongside palliative sedation and palliative care? Should a child conceived through assisted reproduction have access to their biological origins? How should the law take into account same-sex families?  medical assistance in dying  access to biological origins  new family configurations  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  My research allows me to better understand how well the law addresses different contemporary social realities.  [Video title]  At the boundaries of law and ethics  Research in Law to improve how the legal system addresses social issues concerning life and death  Michelle Giroux [Professor, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section]:  [In front of camera as examples of research articles are displayed beside her]  My name is Michelle Giroux. I do research on many topics concerning human rights and family law, but also in bioethics. I am interested in issues that go from the beginning of life to the end, and in recent years, I have been particularly interested in social issues related to the recognition of different contemporary family forms.  [Subtitle]  Complex social problems challenge law and law research  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  These complex social problems challenge the law, and I think that it is fundamental to work in a multidisciplinary and collaborative manner to better understand these realities, these emerging social problems.  [Subtitle]  Formal law does not always reflect contemporary family realities  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  For me, norms should not exist separately from the realities of families. I think it is sometimes limiting to impose a legal solution solely in the name of a major principle of law such as public policy, for example.  [Text]  As part of a field survey of French and Quebec judges, Professor Giroux and her collaborators have tried to better understand the decision-making challenges judges face with respect to families who use assisted human reproduction.  [Text]  Civil Code of Quebec 
  1. Any agreement whereby a woman undertakes to procreate or carry a child for another person isabsolutely null. 
The ethical question  How can we better recognize citizenship, identity and the best interests of the child?  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  In the interviews we did with Quebec judges, it emerged that they often felt caught between a rock and a hard placeSo, between public order, which predominates in the Civil Code with regard to agreements of gestational and reproductive surrogacy, and the fact that they were asked, in the name of the interests of the child, to grant an adoption.  [Text animation:  the word juge is squeezed between the words l’arbre et l’ écorce]  Rock (substantive law)  Judge  Hard place (best interests of the child)  [Text]  In Quebec, to make up for the nullity of assisted procreation agreements, judges have turned to the rules of adoption as a form of recognition of children.  [Subtitle]  How has the law adapted to this situation in France?  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  In France, the judges felt exactly the same way in that they told us that they felt a bit like rubber-stampers, where people came to seek their approval for a situation for which they did not have much of a say, in a context where the law was still fairly strict and where public policy should have imposed the non-use of adoption.  [Subtitle]  The contribution of empirical research in law  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera as examples of research articles are displayed beside her]  So, through my research, especially with the field surveys, I feel that we can understand the realities experienced by families and the application of the law to these families, and see how this family reality does not always fit the norm in place.  [Subtitle]  The effects of legal research on the law  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  My research involves considering the law differently, sometimes taking into account the evolution of family realities and other times taking into account the evolution of science or medicine.  [Subtitle]  What is the potential impact of this research?  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera, with text below appearing beside her]  In the case of complex family transformations, I would like to imagine, for example, new foundations for the law on filiation. As part of these new foundations, identity would be central to my questioning. So, if I were offered a blank page to write the law, or if I was offered the opportunity to reform the law, in my law, there would be more dignity for people, more respect for fundamental rights. The law must necessarily – should necessarily – also innovate. Another thing that seems essential to me is flexibility in the different family models because the family realities are varied. In fact, the best future for my research would be for it to influence the law, to influence law reform here and elsewhere.  Legal innovation  new foundations for the right of filiation  placing identity at the center of these questions  more dignity for people  more respect for fundamental rights  flexibility of family models  [Subtitle]  The role of research in law  Michelle Giroux:  [In front of camera]  As a researcher, I establish a dialogue between society and the law. It is my greatest motivation, and it is why I do what I do.  [Subtitles and text]  Acknowledgements  Colleagues and Collaborators  Hélène Belleau  Laurence Brunet  Jérôme Courduriès  Martine Gross  Louise Langevin  Carmen Lavallée  Brigitte Lefebvre  Me Jean-Pierre Ménard  Anne-Marie Piché  Jehanne Sosson  Marie-Christine St-Jacques  and many others  [Logos: Familles en mouvance, Partenariat de recherche; Chambre des notaires; Mission de recherche Droit et JusticeInterdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child (LRIDE); Human Rights Research and Education CentrePartenariat de recherche – Séparation parentale, recomposition familialeSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; uOttawa]  [Credits]  Featured Researcher  Michelle Giroux  Professor, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section  Content Direction  Margarida Garcia  Professor and Vice-Dean of Research and Communications, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section  Cintia Quiroga  Assistant Dean of Research and Professor, Faculty of Law  Andrew Kuntze  Research Communications Strategist, Faculty of Law  Photography and Images  Andrew Kuntze  Flory,  Université libre d'Amsterdam  Wangkun Jia,  Music  Deliberate Thought, Kevin MacLeod  (original music track remixed for this video)  Language Revision  Natalie Carter  Translation  Natalie Carter  Andrew Kuntze  Content Coordination  Civil Law Section, Faculty of Law  University of Ottawa  Research Office, Faculty of Law  University of Ottawa  Production  Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS)  University of Ottawa  The production of the video series Viv(r)e la recherche en droit was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Law Foundation of Ontario.  [Logo: La Fondation du droit de l’Ontario]  While financially supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario, the University of Ottawa is solely responsible for all content.  [Logo: uOttawa] 

Comment faire progresser l’accès à la justice? Et comment les efforts des chercheurs en droit peuvent-ils contribuer à la cause?  

Family law studies show us that the diversity of choices relating to the private lives of individuals does not always mesh well with the prevailing norms in place in our society. In this video from the “Viv(r)e la recherche en droit” series, Michelle Giroux explores the evolution of family realities, noting that they are varied and they demand a dialogue between the law and our lived experience. For example, as part of a field survey conducted in France and Quebec, Professor Giroux studied the decision-making challenges that judges face related to assisted reproduction. To overcome challenges like these, Professor Giroux explains how the law can innovate to grant people more dignity.

The “Viv(r)e la recherche en droit” series explores legal research as a gateway to justice. The series illustrates how access to justice benefits from knowledge mobilization, and how access to knowledge drives justice mobilization.

We thank the Law Foundation of Ontario whose financial support made this series possible.

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