NCBC Offers 24/7 Free Emergency Ethics Consultation

ChelseaBioethics, Embryonic Stem Cell Research4 Comments

Thanks to Gerard Nadal for pointing out the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s free 24 hr. consultation service. From their website:

The National Catholic Bioethics Center regularly provides consultation services for institutions and individuals on critical issues which affect Catholic identity in health care.

Institutional issues are related to the faithful observance of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and may include resolving complex issues of cooperation in Catholic hospital mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. Many of these requests come from bishops, leaders in Catholic health care, policy makers across the country at the highest levels, as well as from offices of the Holy See.

The Center’s most active ministry, however, is to individuals who regularly take advantage of our free email and telephone consultation services – including a 24/7 emergency service – when faced with difficult and pressing decisions regarding the medical care of loved ones. Staff ethicists receive over 1,000 such requests annually.

An NCBC ethicist is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 215-877-2660. This kind of thing could come in very handy for families facing difficult medical decisions, especially with regard to end of life care.

I don’t know a whole lot about the NCBC myself except that one of my favorite people in the world, Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. is one of their contributors. He is as smart and as solid as they come in defending human dignity and ethics in biotechnology. Having followed Dr. Nadal’s writing for some time now, I’m fairly certain that he would not pass along something like this that thought wasn’t 100% in line with Church teaching, especially in the area of life sciences. However, I am a little concerned about the NCBC’s judgment in light of this disappointing story about 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.

Research at the Jackson Lab includes finding “better contraceptive methods” and there is some evidence to suggest that they engage in or at least provide services supporting embryonic stem cell research. Both of which would be problematic for any Catholic institution to be associated with. However, when Monahan reportedly consulted the NCBC about the Jackson Lab they had saw absolutely no moral objections to the research facility.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t give me much confidence in the reliability of their consultation services. Am I wrong? I hope I am. I hope there’s something I’m overlooking – or that hasn’t been revealed – regarding their decision in this case.

4 Comments on “NCBC Offers 24/7 Free Emergency Ethics Consultation”

  1. The NCBC is a gem. It has some superb bioethicists who have literally flown all over the U.S. to assist Bishops, hospitals, etc. in very difficult moral cases. I am not familiar with the case of Ave Maria and what the land would be used for. I do know that NCBC is a source for excellent information on bioethics, is faithful to the Magisterium, and the position statements available for members who join online are marvelous. I highly recommend their small packet explaining the position of the Church on Living Wills and how to appoint a Health Care Proxy. It is available at modest cost.


  2. Chelsea,
    I don’t know that we can conclude that the NCBC found no objections to Jackson Labs in and of itself. I’m thinking the question the NCBC might’ve been responding to was whether the transaction itself is morally licit. A common example of what I mean is the question of whether it is ever permissible to work at a hospital where abortions are performed. I’m not a moral theologian nor do I know the details of Monahan’s conversation with the NCBC. Do we have anything directly from the NCBC on the matter? Maybe you should call or write to them.

    God bless,

  3. Mr. Monaghan’s decision baffles me, too; it’s not as if there aren’t companies out there who have “cleaner noses”, as such. If other options are readily available, and if there’s no moral imperative for choosing the “contraception-friendly” company, then I see no moral excuse for doing business with them. They can’t plead “double-effect”, and the only “motive” I can see for going with Jackson Labs is that “Um… well, they’re big, it’d be efficient, and it’ll likely be good for the economy!”

    Colour me unconvinced.

  4. Thanks Bob, DV. I am quite sure NCBC is a good, faithful organization. But this Ave situation kind of threw me for a loop on that. I’m sure there’s more to this story that we don’t know about – I hope there is. Unfortunately, as with everything that goes on at Ave, there are such strong feelings on both sides it’s hard to get the actual facts straight sometimes.

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