NCBC/Ave Maria Update

ChelseaBioethics, Embryonic Stem Cell Research1 Comment

Two weeks ago I questioned the conclusion by the National Catholic Bioethics Center that there was no moral objection to Ave Maria University/Town creator Tom Monahan possibly selling part of his interest in the land around the university in order to allow the Jackson Laboratory biotech firm to build a research facility on the site. Here is a statement from the NCBC summarizing their position (via American Papist)


Essentially, the NCBC found no evidence that Jackson Labs was actively engaging in human embryonic stem cell research at this point in time – though they may do so in the future. All of their research involves mouse embryos and is, therefore, not immoral in and of itself. Thus, the NCBC found “no moral obstacle” to Mr. Monaghan selling his interest in the land for the building of a new Jackson facility.

My immediate reaction: Ok, so they don’t actually do human ESCR at their facilities…yet. But what, exactly, does the NCBC think they are doing mouse ESCR for? Certainly not just for the heck of it. Animal ESCR lays the groundwork for future research with human embryos. Indeed, Jackson Labs has offered its mouse models in order to educate and advance research using human embryos. So, even if they do not actively engage in the research themselves, they do offer their services to help advance its cause. Does that not matter at all? And what about their commitment to finding ā€œbetter contraceptive methodsā€?

CMR’s Patrick Archibold spoke with NCBC President Dr. John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L. who said that while

the fruits of this research could be used for immoral ends, the research itself is not immoral and might even provide positive results.

Hmm…I still don’t get it. Let’s look at a seemingly related situation: As long as there is a pro-life alternative, Catholics are not permitted to vote for pro-choice candidates. Though the candidate himself does not perform the abortions, he is an advocate for abortion rights and could help pass legislation that would benefit the abortion industry and destroy lives. This may be a way off base comparison, but it seems similar to me.

In his post, Patrick says Monaghan deserves credit for being concerned enough about the morality of the transaction and seeking advice from a reputable Catholic institution. And I agree. However, because the morality of their motives and research is even a little bit questionable, it would have been nice if Mr. Monaghan would have at least tried to replace Jackson Labs with a different, less controversial biotech company. Like NeoStem, for example, which is the company that the Vatican recently teamed up with to promote ethical stem cell research.

What do you think about all of this? A reader at the American Papist blog made the point that, if this transaction is wrong – as many still think it is – shouldn’t it be even worse for Catholics to support/attend schools like Yale, Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Stanford, WUStL, etc., that all actually do engage in human ESCR? Can’t some of that money be funneled into their ESCR labs?

One Comment on “NCBC/Ave Maria Update”

  1. With all due respect to those who disagree: this is a no-brainer. Jackson not only involves itself in ESCR research, but it boasts of its proactive research into IVF and contraception. I strongly suspect that, since these things are seen as being “less grave than abortion” (though that isn’t true with IVF), they’ve quietly dropped off the radar. Given that morally licit alternatives exist for “research firms” (as you pointed out, Chelsea), there’s absolutely no excuse. I see no reason not to think that the current “show” is one long effort to obfuscate for the sake of expediency–quieting the objections so that the “better” purpose of “doing good business” can move forward.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *