By Jennifer Lahl, CBC National Director
In 2010, CBC turns ten! We will have some special events and celebrations throughout the year. But to kick us off, I thought I’d highlight my best memories of the past decade. For our full report, Ten Years of Building a Human Future, you can download a pdf here.
Top 10 List — 10 Years and Counting:
- With little money but a big vision to educate and engage the culture in all things bioethical, the CBC was launched with a conference attended by about 40 people in Oakland, CA . We were an all-volunteer staff, and our total income was a little over $12,000!
- In 2001, we broadened our vision and reach with our “Coffee and Discourse” lecture series drawing from expert speakers all across the country – Dr. Chris Hook, from the Mayo Clinic, spoke on nanotechnology and robotics; Dr. Francis Beckwith lectured on the constitution and the right to clone human beings; Dr. Bill Hurlbut gave a wonderful presentation on altruism and love; and Dr. Nigel Cameron, Wesley J. Smith, and Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, along with many others, gave informative and challenging lectures. Through these lectures we built a core base of supporters, many still with us today. We were still an all-volunteer staff.
- By 2002, we came up with this crazy idea to host “The Debate of the Century – What Does it Mean to Be Human?” between Dr. Nigel Cameron, then chairman of the CBC board, and Peter Singer of Princeton University. This debate put CBC on the map and quickly branded us with name recognition as the group who hosted “The Debate of the Century.” Robyn Klein was brought on to manage that event. We received our first $10,000 foundational grant and our income jumped to a bit over $80,000.
- In 2003, we brought together diverse leaders and thinkers to host our first conference on transhumanism, “The Face of the Future: Technosapiens?” At the end of 2003, we received a $200,000 matching grant challenge, and with only 6 weeks to raise the funds, we raised $150,000. This allowed us to hire Robyn to do more public relations building and event coordination with the CBC; and to add Paul van der Bijl to manage our email campaigns and web presence, and Wesley Smith as a special paid consultant to do regular writing and speaking for the CBC.
- 2004 brought the first Paul Ramsey Award dinner honoring Edmund Pellegrino, as we saw the importance of recognizing leaders in this new and important field and honoring the legacy of Paul Ramsey. We hosted our 2nd Technosapien conference in Washington, D.C., with diverse speakers like Dr. Leon Kass and Dr. Nick Bostrom.
- 2005, the height of Prop. 71 – Wesley Smith, Bill Hurlbut and I were invited to speak at the Willie Brown Stem Cell Symposium. CBC hosted a round table conference with political representatives of both left and right, which was the beginning of working with feminists and leaders on the left, reaching across the political aisle, and building coalitions that still serve us well.
- 2006 launched the “6000 Souls” campaign based on the writings of Prof. John Finnis, the recipient of the 2006 Paul Ramsey award. Finnis imagined that if liberal euthanasia laws passed in a state the size of California, 6,000 people would be euthanized who didn’t want it or ask for it!
- 2007 was the year of “Trading on the Female Body.” The international campaign, Hands Off Our Ovaries, launched, and we hosted several bipartisan congressional briefings on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the exploitation of women for eggs for embryo and cloning research.
- By 2008, we saw the need to get ahead of the mainstream media and the sound bite scientific word wars, and to tell the whole story around the stem cell and human cloning debates. So, we began fundraising and script writing for the production of our documentary, Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate.
- In 2009, CBC hosted a conference with international scientific experts addressing “Banking on Life: Cord Blood Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine.” We premiered “Lines that Divide” all across the country, hosting showings at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., The Vine Theater, Boston College and the University of CA at Berkeley, and on over 100 cable stations in the country.
As we enter 2010, the future looks bright! Lines that Divide has been chosen and will be shown at the California Independent Film Festival! We are organizing a showing on the Stanford University campus on May 6th and many more states and organizations are hosting more showings. This film is all the more important as Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Mike Castle (R-DE) have just introduced legislation to expand embryonic and cloning research in the U.S. CBC is actively supporting many states in legislation advocacy work.
I’m happy to report that we are halfway through producing our next documentary film devoted to the issue of egg “donation” and the health risks to women being recruited to donate their eggs for IVF or for research.
This year we seek to raise $150,000 toward our Strategic Initiative to Prohibit Human Cloning in the U.S. (PDF). Over this last year, I have shown Lines That Divide to thousands of people and heard reactions from them as they leave the auditorium. People see this film and they say two things: We don’t need to destroy human embryos to find cures for sick people, and we certainly don’t need to destroy a young woman’s health in the process.
By our 20th anniversary our vision is that:
- CBC would be training the best minds of the future through internships and fellowships.
- CBC would have endowed chairs where Ph.D.s could have thinking and writing time to contribute academically to the field of bioethics, continuing in the legacy of Paul Ramsey and all the great recipients of this award.
- CBC would be training and placing people in all 50 states to enable good public policy.
2009 was a tough year. Our giving was down about 15%. Many of you gave sacrificially – thank you. But at the end of the day, to do the work before us takes money. And so, I ask you again, as you are able, to give to the CBC. Giving is easy through our online account. Monthly support is greatly appreciated. And call us if you want to make a contribution through stock donation. Consider contributing to the legacy of the CBC and the future of the human race!
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