Be Vigilant with Charities
Throughout the year there are various medical charities that come knocking on our doors at home, work, or school, asking for our donations or for our help in raising money. Most of these charities do good work in finding treatments for a variety of diseases. Unfortunately, many of these charities also support or engage in research that violates the dignity of human life.
A few years ago, my office surveyed numerous medical charities asking for their positions on research using aborted fetal tissue or human embryos. About half of the charities did not respond or had ambiguous responses. They are: Alliance for Aging Research, National Parkinson Foundation, American Auto-Immune Disease Assoc., National Spinal Cord Injury Association, American Paralysis Association, Neurological Disorders Research Coalition, Epilepsy Foundation of America, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Huntington’s Disease Society, Spina Bifida Association of America, National Hemophilia Foundation, Tourette Syndrome Association, National Infertility Association, National Osteoporosis Foundation, United Parkinson Foundation, and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
Four of the charities said that they were not involved in fetal tissue or embryo-destructive research: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, National Kidney Foundation, Children’s Leukemia Research Association, American Heart Association.
Ten charities expressed clear support for research using aborted fetal tissue, and/or embryonic stem cells: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, March of Dimes, Glaucoma Research Foundation, The American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which sponsors an annual “Race for the Cure” fundraiser, has a different problem. The Foundation gives a large amount of the money it raises to community outreach programs. In 2003, $475,000 of such funds was distributed to 21 local Planned Parenthood chapters. The Foundation’s refusal to discontinue its relationship with Planned Parenthood caused one of its board members to resign.
It is very sad when organizations that otherwise do good and important work get unnecessarily entangled with immoral activities or organizations. This entanglement presents a dilemma to people who want to support good research, often as a tribute to a loved one, but don’t want their contributions to support immoral activities.
Catholic individuals, and especially Catholic organizations, can have a powerful influence on such charities by refusing to donate to, or raise funds for, them until they change their policies. A case in point is the American Heart Association (AHA). Following a flood of protest letters, including one from the Archbishop of St. Louis, and the resignation of an entire fundraising committee in one state, the AHA changed its policy and no longer funds or advocates for immoral research.
For those wishing to support research without supporting immoral activities, there are some alternatives. In addition to the four charities mentioned above, Easter Seals, which helps children with disabilities, does not support immoral research (www.easterseals.com). The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute was founded to look at the connection between abortion and contraceptives and breast cancer (www.bcpinstitute.org, 1-866-622-6237).
The Spinal Cord Research Advancement Foundation raises money to support research using adult stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries (http://www.linksforcure.com/scicuremain.htm). The Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research was founded by “God Squad” co-host, Father Tom Hartman, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The foundation excludes any funding for human embryonic stem cell research and supports research using adult stem cells to treat Parkinson’s (http://www.hartmanfoundation.org , 631-277-9655).
The Lee Iacocca Foundation is raising money to support research with an adult stem cell therapy that reverses Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes in animals. The Foundation has contributed $1 million for human trials and is asking one million Americans to help by donating $10 each (http://www.joinleenow.org).