|Margaret Anne Ganley Somerville|
April 13, 1942 |
Adelaide, South Australia
|Occupation||ethicist and academic|
Margaret Anne Ganley Somerville, AM, FRSC (born April 13, 1942) is a conservative Australian/Canadian ethicist and academic. She is the Samuel Gale Professor of Law, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and the Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University.
Somerville was born in Adelaide, South Australia, and received a A.u.A. (pharm.) from the University of Adelaide in 1963, a Bachelor of Law degree (Hons. I) from the University of Sydney in 1973, and a D.C.L. from McGill University in 1978.
From 1963 to 1969, she was a registered pharmacist in South Australia, Victoria, New Zealand, and New South Wales. After returning to University and receiving her law degree she became an attorney for a Sydney, Australia law firm, Mallesons (as it then was) (formerly Stephen, Jacques and Stephen; now Mallesons Stephen Jaques) from 1974 to 1975.
In 1978, Somerville was appointed an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at McGill University. She was appointed an Associate Professor in 1979 and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine in 1980. In 1984, she became a Full Professor of the Faculty of Medicine and in 1989 was appointed the Samuel Gale Professor of Law. From 1986 to 1996, she was the founding Director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law and was appointed acting Director in 1999. She currently teaches seminars on Advanced Torts and Comparative Medical Law at McGill University.
In 1990, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to the law and to bioethics". In 1991, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2004, she was awarded UNESCO's Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science. 
She has received honorary degrees from University of Windsor (1992), Macquarie University (1993), St. Francis Xavier University (1996) and the University of Waterloo (2004). Her honorary degree awarded June 19, 2006 at Ryerson University in Toronto was controversial because of her objections to same sex marriage. She has since received honorary degrees from Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (2009) and Saint Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia (2010).
In 2006, Somerville was nominated for membership in the Order of Canada by Carol Finlay, a professor at the Toronto School of Theology. Finlay says Somerville was turned down for the honour because she is "too controversial."
Despite having been invited by the Standing Committee of the Parliament of Canada to give evidence as an expert witness in its hearings on legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada, in Varnum v. Brien Iowa's Polk County District Court rejected Somerville's testimony concerning the purported social effects of recognizing same-sex marriages. Judge Robert Hanson rejected the expert testimony of Dr. Somerville and stated that her testimony would be inadmissible at trial, on the basis that her opinions were "not based on observation supported by scientific methodology or... on empirical research in any sense." On appeal, the Iowa Supreme Court found that her testimony was admissible in the case, but not as an expert witness. The finding of the lower court that Ms. Somerville was not an expert in these matters was not overturned. 
Canadian philosopher Scott Woodcock has offered detailed criticism of Ms. Somerville's views on same-sex marriage, calling them unpersuasive and question-begging. In contrast to the views expressed in that article, Somerville's most recent publications are:
- “Children’s Human Rights to Natural Biological Origins and Family Structure”, HeinOnline IJJF library 2011, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/ijjf1&id=1&collection=journals; (2011) 1 International Journal of the Jurisprudence of the Family, 35-54.
- “Scholars turn their minds to marriage” Review Essay on The Jurisprudence of Marriage and Other Intimate Relationships, Scott FitzGibbon, Lynn D. Wardle, and A. Scott Loveless (Eds.). Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2010. 330 pages. ISBN 978-0-8377-3812-3, $70.00 (cloth), HeinOnline IJJF library 2011; (2011) 1 International Journal of the Jurisprudence of the Family, 289-296 .
 Selected bibliography
- The Ethical Canary: Science, Society, and the Human Spirit (2000, ISBN 0-670-89302-1)
- Death Talk: The Case Against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (2001, ISBN 0-7735-2201-8)
- The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit (2006, ISBN 0-88784-747-1)
- Do We Care? (May 26, 1999) ISBN 0-7735-1878-9
 See also
- Aubin, Henry. (2006). McGill ethicist refused OC because she was 'too controversial', The Montreal Gazette, 8 July 2008.
- Varnum v. Brien, Iowa District Court for Polk County, Case No. CV5963, slip opinion, August 31, 2007, at page 7.
- Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 http://www.iowacourtsonline.org/supreme_court/recent_opinions/20090403/07-1499.pdf
- Scott Woodcock (2009). "Five Reasons why Margaret Somerville is Wrong about Same-Sex Marriage and the Rights of Children". Dialogue, vol. 48 , pp 867-887
- "Professor Somerville discusses the ethics of medical breakthroughs". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 28, 2007.
- "Margaret A. Somerville". McGill University. Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved June 15, 2006.
- "Canadian Who's Who 1997 entry". University of Toronto Press. Retrieved June 15, 2006.
- "The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage: A Brief Submitted to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights". Retrieved April 29, 2003.
- "Faculty protests award for Montreal ethicist". CTV News. Retrieved June 19, 2006.
- "Spineless and rude - Ryerson University shows how not to award an honorary degree[[National Post]]". Retrieved June 19, 2006. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)