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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Jackson Labs Admits It Might Do HESC Research In Ave Maria Town

Jackson Labs has a nifty new website devoted to the proposed facility to be built in Collier County, Florida, just outside of Ave Maria University. (HT: commenter "curious"). The website has a neat section of "Frequently asked questions" where Jackson Labs proudly declares the following as one of its "key discoveries": "In vitro fertilization, the freezing of embryos and other assisted reproductive technologies were invented and/or perfected by Jackson." Uh-oh. Not a good sign that Jackson takes its ethical obligations seriously.

But let's get to the central question we are all wondering, the one about whether there will be human embryonic stem cell research at an Ave Maria facility:
Would researchers at JAX-Florida work with stem cells? What kind of stem cells?
The Jackson Laboratory is dedicated to the search for tomorrow's cures, and JAX scientists pursue the scientific truth, wherever it lies. Stem cell research - in all its many forms - is a promising avenue for new disease therapies. Most of the Laboratory's stem cell research involves mouse stem cells. Human embryonic stem cell research is not central to JAX's current research program, and is not expected to be a main focus at JAX-Florida. However, we could not rule out the possibility that some research of this kind might be done in the future.
That's not comforting. Keep in mind, this doesn't even address the fact that much of JAX's current research and development is still immoral, because even though it is not actually engaged in HESC research, JAX formally cooperates with the evil of HESC research being done at other labs by means of JAX's training programs, seminars, mouse products, and other services which are directly marketed to, and supportive of, HESC research done elsewhere.

Now Ave Maria surely can't condone JAX's involvement with HESC research? The "Frequently asked questions" paint a different picture:
Would there be issues related to JAX-Florida's location near Ave Maria?
Executives from The Jackson Laboratory have had productive discussions with the leaders of Ave Maria University about the Laboratory, and both institutions are respectful of the others' work. We do not foresee any problems arising from our proximity. Rather, both institutions have a vested interest in the further growth and development of eastern Collier County.
What are you possibly thinking, Ave Maria, by tacitly approving JAX's involvement in HESC research?

I'm glad to see other people finally noticing this issue and raising questions: Pat Archbold, at the National Catholic Register blog, has a good post calling on Ave Maria to address the concerns. (HT: AveWatch) An excerpt:
These issues are too important to simply issue a statement that asserts "oh don't worry we looked into it and everything is fine." Catholics cannot roll over in cases such as these anymore.

According to Randy Engel at the National Coalition for Life, Monaghan sought advice on Jackson from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and they raised no objection. That said, I don't think that Monaghan, Baron Collier, or Ave Maria University can say that covers it. They all have an obligation to address the troubling statements on the Jackson Lab's website and the other distressing questions raised by AveWatch.com.

They must directly address these concerns or pull the plug on Jackson. If they get this wrong, Monaghan's whole vision for a Catholic University in a Catholic town will be forfeit.