What the CBC Means to Me

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture on May 21, 2013

Dear Friend of the CBC,

As you may know, I serve as chair of the board of directors of The CBC. During the day I practice general surgery in Manhattan . . . Kansas. We call ourselves the Little Apple. We even have a ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

I have had the honor of helping support this organization from almost the beginning. I got to know Jennifer Lahl when we started our master’s studies together at Trinity University in Chicago. As part of her major project for graduation, she decided to start a bioethics center. When she told me about the work she felt called to do, I agreed to help provide some support to get things going. At the time, I thought it would run for two or three years and then probably fade away. I hoped that it would be successful in the same way that I hope a major operation is successful when I work on someone with a massively bleeding ulcer, a bad heart, and kidney failure.

Shortly after that, she asked me to be a member of the board. Once again I said “sure” because she’s a good friend, because I respected what she was doing, and because I wanted to help. I figured there would be a few meetings and no significant intellectual heavy lifting.

My prognostication skills are obviously lacking. Sometimes the patient survives in spite of my best surgical efforts. The CBC has survived and grown for 13 years, with your help. For that I thank you.

But why do I support the CBC? Like many of you, I receive letters and calls to support numerous organizations on a weekly basis. Many of them are good and worthy causes and make a compelling case for their mission. Why the CBC?

I’d like to tell the story of a friend of mine who is on faculty in the animal science department at my local university, Kansas State University. Being a land-grant university, K-State has strong emphases in agriculture and related areas. My friend’s specialty is reproductive physiology, working in assisted reproduction in cattle.

In 2001, our local and state news broke the story of “Baby Doe,” the first cloned calf the university produced. My friend was one of the researchers on the project and was featured in interviews throughout the week. He called me a couple of weeks later wanting to get together for coffee and discuss some of the ethics around cloning. He told me he’d been thinking about what his team had done and now he wasn’t so sure he had done a good thing.

I of course said I’d be happy to talk to him but felt compelled to remind him that the best time to think about whether you’ve done the right thing or not is before you do it, not after.

We want the coed on the college campus to think about the implications of what she might be doing before she answers the ad in the campus newspaper or on Craigslist for an egg donor.

We want the struggling single mom to think about what is really involved before she agrees to be a surrogate mother carrying a baby for someone else.

We want the voters and the politicians to think about the implications of assisted suicide and euthanasia before they vote to legalize it.

We want to speak for and defend the dignity of those who are most vulnerable and voiceless in society, whether it be the unborn, the disabled or the dying.

The CBC has made significant inroads through film and media to bring the stories of the vulnerable to audiences that would not otherwise hear them. The films—Anonymous Father’s Day, Eggsploitation, and Lines that Divide—have shown on major college campuses, at Ivy League law schools, at independent film festivals, and in movie theaters. They have also shown in Europe at colleges and international conferences, and the videos have been sold and shipped all over the world.

We have seen the profound impact that the power of a human story can have. Most of us hear facts and figures throughout the day. And while the CBC can and does make logical arguments for the positions we take, what really reaches people is the story of someone like them who has walked the path before them. The stories they will remember.

We are asking people to partner with us in our mission to carry the call of human dignity into society. It is only with the help of those partnering with us that we can do the things that we do.

Your partnership can make a significant difference to the future of us all. We are not a large organization with a multi-million dollar budget. Heck, we don’t even have a million dollar budget. That’s why your gift, whether it be with time, talent, or treasure can make such a big difference in the CBC’s ability to reach further into the culture and give a voice to human dignity, a voice that values people simply for the fact that they are human beings and not just for what they can contribute.

Which brings me back to the original question: “What the CBC means to me.” Very simply, I care about people. That’s part of why I am a physician. I care about human dignity, because I think there is more to being human than proteins and DNA.

Historically, we’ve seen the results of what happens to societies that consider certain populations and groups as less than human, not possessing human dignity. I’m concerned that our culture is going down that path.

The CBC exists to defend the dignity of every human. Like the old Sunday School song says, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” That’s why I support the CBC. That’s what the CBC means to me.

Thank you very much and God bless.
  
David Pauls, MD FACS

Your generous and timely gift is tax deductible.

PS: Your partnership now will make a significant difference to the future of us all.

 

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