Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Chris' courageous decision

Group member Chris writes about a recent ethical dilemma she had to tackle (posted up on her behalf by Anneli due to technical issues!).

 I recently went to France for the weekend with my son and we came across a large charity event, where you could pay for a ride in a Ferrari. My son is car mad, so, as an early Christmas present,  I said that he could have a go.

It seemed to be a national event as there was also a telethon taking place. The charity's leaflets showed a photo of a young girl, so I presumed it was a children's charity and didn't think any more about it.

It was only later, when I read the leaflet, that I found out it was a charity dedicated to genetic research. My heart sank, as I could imagine that they used human embryos. Shamefully, I was also a little glad I hadn't known beforehand, as my son would have been so upset if I had promised him a ride and had then said he couldn't have it.

I thought some more about how most pro-lifers would refuse treatment for themselves or for their children if the treatment was a result of genetic research on embryos, and then I realised I'd done something far worse by helping fund it!

I decided in the end to contact the charity and ask them to give my money to another children's charity. I explained in my email the reasons behind my request. I just hope they understand. Some people can't see a problem with using aborted embryos for genetic results, as they see it as something good coming out of something bad. I do understand their point of view but it also feels wrong to benefit from something so tragic and so fundamentally wrong.

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Whilst she's posting Chris' words up, Anneli adds, "Thanks for sharing your experience, Chris, and well done for sticking to your principles.  It can't have been easy to write that email.  I think this is a situation more and more of us will be coming across these days with regards to medical research.  I myself came across something similar with regard to a charity that's been supporting my daughter (see previous blog post - unfortunately we've never received a reply from the charity in question).

"St John's Pro Life Group has been having the very discussion Chris alludes to recently with regard to the morality of using vaccines, like the rubella vaccine, which are developed using a cell line derived from an aborted foetus.  We will post more about this dilemma soon!"


  1. That's a very good and thought provoking post Chris. I've fallen foul of charities who don't clearly state that they support abortion or stem cell research or contraception in the past and as hard as it is to think that, at some point or on some way, we've supported or funded them the important thing is once we realise what they do is to stop that immediately. Your emailing then about this is, as Anneli said, courageous as quite often people are hostile to these sorts of discussions (experienced that from a charity before and all!!) but it is the right thing to do!

  2. One problem is that as with the rubella vaccine, as treatments move into the main stream you won't necessarily know what was used in their development.........so then do you not use any treatments?

  3. Agree, Judith, it's a really difficult area with so much ethical and unethical research being carried on side by side and not necessarily distinguished from each other. The charity I referred to, which we belong to, sends out a regular magazine which includes details of medical research being done in the area of ataxia and it is not always easy to discern the sources of the scientific materials used as they won't necessarily feel it important to tell the reader. "Stem cells" are often referred to with no qualifier, i.e. are they derived from embryos or adult cells.

    In the case of vaccines, not using a vaccine can have catastrophic effects on the population as a whole and this obviously has to be taken into account in the moral equation. The official Vatican advice in this specific case is I believe that we don't have a moral obligation to avoid the vaccine even though it draws on knowledge that was originally obtained unethically, but that generally speaking we do have an obligation to speak out for alternative, ethical research and sources of medicine.