October 28, 2011
Twelve years ago, my office and
other pro-life groups in Nebraska were fighting to prohibit the use of fetal
tissue from abortions in research. This was prompted by the revelation that
the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) was conducting research
using fetal tissue it obtained from abortionist Leroy Carhart.
Sadly, our effort to persuade the Legislature to
ban this research was unsuccessful. Some senators who had voted for other
pro-life measures opposed this ban largely due to heavy lobbying by UNMC
officials who portrayed themselves as the only credible voice of science.
This experience made it evident to me and others
that the pro-life movement needed help from pro-life researchers and doctors
to more effectively challenge unethical biomedical research. Thankfully,
several doctors and researchers stepped up and formed the Nebraska Coalition
for Ethical Research (NCER) in April 2001.
This group is dominated by men and women of
science who understand both the importance of medical research and its
strict adherence to fundamental ethical principles such as "first do no
harm." The group’s mission is "to advocate for biomedical research that
promotes the life, dignity and rights of every human being at
each developmental stage."
In commentary on its website (www.ethicalresearch.net),
NCER says the following: "Biomedical research undermines human dignity when
it discriminates against certain human beings based on their developmental
stage, or when it treats humans as mere physical objects that can be
harvested for their parts.
"To treat the human being as too old, too young,
too feeble or as a mere body is to treat the person in an unequal,
discriminatory and dehumanizing manner. Therefore, biomedical research must
respect the whole person, body and spirit, at every stage of development and
guarantee the basic human rights of equality and nondiscrimination."
It has been a privilege for me to have served on
the board of NCER since its inception. The dedication and generosity I have
witnessed from NCER’s board members and staff—all of whom are accomplished
and busy professionals—is edifying. And their contributions to advancing
ethical research and opposing unethical research have been significant.
On Nov. 10 and 11, NCER is hosting a fundraising
banquet and breakfast to raise needed funds to continue its great work. The
banquet will be held Thursday evening, Nov. 10 at Scott Conference Center in
Omaha. The breakfast will be held the next morning, Nov. 11, at the
Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.
Featured speaker at both events is David Limbaugh,
younger brother of talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and author of the New York
Times bestseller Crimes Against Liberty. Also featured at both events
is Doug Rice, who has testified before Congress about the successful adult
stem cell treatment he received to treat his congestive heart failure.
Tickets for both events can be purchased on NCER’s website,
or by calling NCER at 402-690-2299. If you can, please attend one of these
events and support the important work of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical
You can contact Greg at The Nebraska
Catholic Conference, 215 Centennial Mall South Suite 310, Lincoln, NE 68508;