We asked Jennifer’s husband Dan to bring a Call to Action at the end of our recent Paul Ramsey Award Dinner. Dan has supported The Center for Bioethics and Culture since it was merely an idea, and he has had a front-row seat to watch that idea come to fruition and grow to what it is today. He is a Global Vice President with the technology company SAP. Below is a lightly edited transcript of his remarks. I hope you find them as powerfully encouraging and motivating as I do.
Yes, I was there at the launch of The Center for Bioethics and Culture. I was so proud of Jennifer. Instead of saying that she wanted to write a thesis for her master’s degree, she actually wanted to put her master’s to work to doing a project. That was 18 years ago, and she’s made such a huge difference for the world. Thank you, Jennifer. She is awesome, by the way. Just so you know.
This is the 14th Paul Ramsey dinner. For some of you it’s the first, for some of you it’s more than that. You’ve heard from the leaders of the CBC tonight, you have been introduced to the current cohort of Paul Ramsey Institute Scholars and Fellows, and there are several Paul Ramsey Institute Alumni who are here tonight as well. You’ve heard how much the CBC is doing and accomplishing in so many areas of bioethics.
Paul Ramsey’s life work was to wrestle with, write on, and to teach about ethical issues. The CBC is an outworking of Dr. Ramsey’s teachings, an active proponent in the world of his beliefs, vigorously striving for the good of humanity in our culture. I consider it a privilege to have close proximity to the daily work of the CBC.
Looking at the work of the CBC, I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. To remind you of the parable, Jesus told it to answer the question, “who is my neighbor?”. It’s the story of a run-of-the-mill person who, unlike the clergyman and the lawyer who passed by on the other side of the road, this ordinary person had compassion and showed mercy to a half dead man, binding up his wounds, carrying him on his own animal, getting him to a hotel, paying for his room and care and recovery. In short, the Good Samaritan was a person caring about his neighbor in need simply because of his neighbor’s human dignity. The ailing person wasn’t powerful, rich, or influential. He was just the opposite, in fact. But the Good Samaritan helped this man because he was simply a person in need. This is Jesus’ answer the question “who is my neighbor?”.
Dr. Martin Luther King said about the parable of the Good Samaritan,
I imagine that the first question the clergyman and lawyer asked was this: “If I stop and help this man, what will happen to me?” But by the very nature of his concern, the Good Samaritan reversed the question saying, “If I do not help this man, what will happen to him?”
Mother Teresa once wrote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
This to me sums up the CBC. Its reasons for existence is because we all belong to each other. If the CBC does not help those in need, who will help them?
Why has the CBC asked me to wrap up the events of the evening? For the CBC there’s no bake sale tonight, there’s no silent auction, there’s no opportunity to purchase desserts for your table. That’s not how the CBC rolls. Rather, tonight the CBC is simply going to ask you to financially partner with us on the vision we have for 2018 and beyond.
Just as the CBC is a Good Samaritan to those in need of human dignity, you have the opportunity tonight to be a Good Samaritan to help the work of the CBC.
There are three particular areas I want to highlight where your financial giving can significantly help the CBC: 1.) The Paul Ramsey Institute, 2.) The making of the new film, and 3.) The Stop Surrogacy Now project.
The Paul Ramsey Institute is training young men and women who are going to be the next generation of physicians, lawyers, philosophers, theologians—speakers, teachers, writers, influencers. Past graduates of the program include Matthew Rose of the Berkeley Institute, Rhodes Scholar Aurora Griffin, and Marc LiVecche who is managing editor of Providence: A Journal of Theology and American Foreign Policy.
Tonight’s recipient of the Paul Ramsey Award, Farr Curlin of Duke University and Divinity School, sent two of his students into the current cohort of Fellows: Ben Frush and Bailey Sanford.
This extremely important training program seeds the academy to inform, shape, and engage with the culture. It is the only multidisciplinary project with this goal that is focused on bioethics. It is led by Drs. Bill Hurlbut and Gil Meilaender who were members of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who heads the Bioethics Program at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine is the newest Paul Ramsey Institute Scholar. For many of the Paul Ramsey Institute meetings, they also host a visiting scholar, like they did today with tonight’s honoree, Dr. Farr Curlin. Folks, this program is simply unparalleled.
Did you know that this year the CBC had to turn away four potential Fellows because we didn’t have the funds to bring them into the fold? One was even from Poland and one from Canada.
If what the CBC is doing through the Paul Ramsey Institute is important to you—training those who will impact the future of bioethics—then here’s your financial opportunity. The CBC needs an underwriting of $5,000 for each fellow each year. We have to raise $75,000 to fully fund the Paul Ramsey Institute for 2018. That’s the cost. There is a great need for you to be a Good Samaritan for the Paul Ramsey Institute.
The second area where your financial giving can significantly help the CBC is the new movie. It’s about Kelly, a woman who loved being pregnant and helping others, but as a surrogate mother she was lied to, lied about, used, exploited, and nearly ruined financially. In the end, she barely escaped with her life.
I think these movies that The Center for Bioethics and Culture produces are actually strategic weapons against assisted reproductive technology. They not only capture intellectually people’s minds, but they touch people’s hearts as well.
The CBC’s films have been translated into many different languages, they’ve been shown at universities, they’ve been shown at the European Parliament, on Capitol Hill, and in state legislatures. Literally, they have reached thousands of people through these little movies that Jennifer and Matthew make on what is truly a shoestring budget.
The surrogate in this film was exploited not by one, not by two, but by three couples. The last couple left her literally destitute, paying her own medical bills, leaving her high and dry.
Folks, the way that surrogacy arrangements are being made by reproductive brokers is through contract law. Contract law! The woman and the unborn baby are commodities in contract law!!
The filming is done for this movie and the editing is underway. If you would like to partner with the Center of Bioethics and Culture on this movie project, a gift of $10,000 will be credited to you and you’ll be called a Producer. A gift of $1,000 will gain you the title of Associate Producer. But any Good Samaritan effort on this film would be welcome. This will have a worldwide impact, literally.
The third opportunity is for their Stop Surrogacy Now efforts. This is a strategic, global project that Jennifer and the CBC have put together. Surrogacy is an international problem in need of an international solution. Did you know there were entire hospitals in India dedicated to surrogacy tourism, where people could come, contract with a poor Indian woman, and have a baby through surrogacy. That woman is many times shunned by her community after the surrogacy is finished. One of the other largest targets for surrogate mothers is actually low income U.S. Military wives. That’s the target for surrogacy, folks.
To combat these unethical practices, the CBC created the Stop Surrogacy Now project. Its aim is to educate, inform, and influence U.S. and international legislative bodies. Jennifer has been up to Washington state twice this year to testify to their state legislature. She’s been in New Jersey, to the United Nations, and to New York to speak and to testify. There is a tremendous amount going on, all around the world, as part of the Stop Surrogacy Now project.
It is also of great importance to conduct studies on the psychological impact of surrogacy on women. So little is known or understood about this. Jennifer has sought out an accomplished clinical psychologist and researcher to partner with Stop Surrogacy Now to study on the effects and health of women who have served as surrogate mothers. This is huge! But it’s not inexpensive. It will cost $50,000 to fund this study. But again, any Good Samaritan gift toward that study will be welcome.
In summary, tonight you’ve heard all the great work we’re doing. You’ve heard the call to action for Stop Surrogacy Now, for the new movie, and for the Paul Ramsey Institute.
You now have the opportunity to give back. Whether you want to give $10,000 or $1,000, $500 or $100, $50 or $5, please give. Perhaps you would consider making a monthly pledge. A monthly pledge of $10,000 would be really awesome! Seriously, though, one of the best ways to support the CBC is through monthly support, which helps us plan our year more effectively.
Let me close with this from Pope Francis: “If we see someone who needs help, do we stop? There is so much suffering and poverty, and a great need for Good Samaritans.”
On behalf of the CBC, I ask you and I thank you for being a sacrificial supporter of the CBC.
Thank you and God bless you!
The need is great. You can make a significant difference to the Paul Ramsey Institute, to the making of the new film, to the Stop Surrogacy Now project. Please give generously today.
The Center for Bioethics and Culture is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit educational organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.