Anscombe Bioethics
Vatican Double Helix Staircase

Bioethics Centre

'... not just the premier Christian bioethics
institute in Britain, but one of the finest in the
world, Christian or secular'.

The Most Rev. Anthony Fisher O.P.,
Archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

 
About Us

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre (originally known as the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics) is a Roman Catholic academic institute that engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research. It brings to bear on those questions principles of natural law, virtue ethics, and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and seeks to develop the implications of that teaching for emerging fields of practice. The Centre engages in scholarly dialogue with academics and practitioners of other traditions. It contributes to public policy debates as well as to debates and consultations within the Church. It runs educational programmes for, and gives advice to, Catholics and other interested healthcare professionals and biomedical scientists.

We also run an online bookshop, where you can buy our publications securely, and make conference bookings. Please click here to visit our bookshop

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For more information please see the About Us section. See here for information on how to support us, including our educational work.

News & Events

Mind, Medicine & Morals: The ethics of psychiatry and mental health care
Anscombe Lecture 2017
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is holding an international conference on the ethics of psychiatry and mental health care on 5-7 July, 2018 at St Anne's College, Oxford. Speakers include Baroness Sheila Hollins, Former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive of Mind, and Jonathan Herring, Professor of Law at Oxford University. This conference will explore topics such as resource allocation and mental health, ethics of research in psychiatry, compulsory treatment of mental illness, assisted suicide for psychiatric reasons and the mental health effects of sexual abuse.

For more information on the conference and how to register, please visit this page. Residential and non-residential rates are available, and there is an early bird discount for bookings before 1 Mar 2018. There is also a Call for Papers for graduate students and early career academics/professionals.

Abortion, Disability and the Law - Day Conference in Ireland
Anscombe Lecture 2017
On Friday, 20 October, 2017, the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, in association with the Consultative Group on Bioethics of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, held a day conference in Athlone examining the ethical, legal, social and psychological issues raised by abortion or childbirth following a diagnosis of foetal anomaly.






Anscombe Memorial Lecture 2017
Anscombe Lecture 2017
On 16 October 2017, the annual Anscombe Memorial Lecture was delivered by the Anscombe Centre's former director, Prof Luke Gormally, on the topic, 'Chastity, Human Dignity and the Common Good: Anscombe and Aquinas', in Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. The 2017 Lecture coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Centre, so it was fitting to welcome back Prof Gormally, who was involved with the Centre since its establishment in 1977 and was director for over 20 years.

Press Statement (15 August 2017) - Pontifical Academy for Life
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has released a press statement welcoming the appointment of the director, chair of governors, and other fellows and associates of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Press Statement (3 August 2017) - Editing human embryos: Unethical research with eugenic goals
The director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, David Albert Jones, has issued a press statement on the first known experiments conducted on human embryos using the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 in the United States.

Press Statement (24 July 2017) - Charlie Gard: The end of legal proceedings
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has released a press statement regarding the news that Charlie Gard's parents have ended legal proceedings.

Press Statement (5 July 2017) - Charlie Gard
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has released a press statement on the Charlie Gard case entitled 'Charlie Gard: Doing the right thing for the right reasons'.

Anscombe on Contraception: A Half-Day Symposium
Anscombe Contraception Symposium
On Saturday, 22 July, the Anscombe Bioethics Centre held a half-day symposium on 'Anscombe on Contraception' with Prof. Stephan Kampowski, who will be the Centre's Visiting Research Fellow this July. The other speakers at this event were Dr Mary Geach, Dr Anthony McCarthy and Dr Pia Matthews.






Press Statement (27 April 2017) - Artificial Wombs
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has released a press statement on the development of artificial wombs for premature lambs.

Public Consultation on Conscientious Objection by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has published a briefing paper on the GPhC's consultation on conscientious objection, and has made a submission to the consultation, which is now closed. Both the briefing paper and the Centre's submission can be viewed on the Reports & Submissions page under the "Resources" tab.

Press Statement (20 February 2017) - Conference on Abortion and Disability: Warnings from recent history and calls for life-affirming alternatives
Abortion Conference 2017
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has released a press statement about its recent day conference, 'Abortion, Disability and the Law', which took place on Saturday, 18th February in Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University. The press statement includes a summary of the conference proceedings.








Seminar Series - The Moral Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe
Anscombe Seminars The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has held a seminar series on the moral philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe, who has been described as 'a giant among women philosophers' and one of the 'pioneers of a genuine renewal of Catholic thought'. This seminar series was organised in conjunction with the recent release of a new collection of essays reflecting on Anscombe's thought, The Moral Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe, edited by Luke Gormally, David Albert Jones, and Roger Teichmann, which was published following a conference organised by the Centre in 2013.

Paul Ramsey Award 2017
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is pleased to learn that our director, David Albert Jones, has been awarded the Paul Ramsey Award for Excellence in Bioethics 2017 by the US-based Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Commenting on the award, the director said:

“I am honoured to be recipient of the 2017 Paul Ramsey Award, to be associated with his name and to be associated with former recipients, a great cloud of witnesses. Ramsey was the doctoral supervisor of my doctoral supervisor, and the first writer who taught me to acknowledge the essential indignity of death and the dignity of the person who dies well. Technologies and societies change but the greatest challenge remains to see the patient as person and the doctor as person.”

A Note on "Mitochondrial Donation"
On 15 December 2016, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced that they will consider the implementation of "mitochondrial donation" (sometimes referred to as "three-parent IVF") in clinical practice and invite clinics to apply for licences. Our director, David Albert Jones, has issued a statement, highlighting some ethical considerations involved in the techniques now permitted by the HFEA.

Statement on Cryonics
The director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre offers a brief reflection on the practice of cryonics from the perspective of a Catholic bioethicist.

Cardinal Eijk Anscombe Memorial Lecture 2016
On 7 November, 2016, Cardinal Willem Eijk, the Archbishop of Utrecht, delivered the 7th Anscombe Memorial Lecture, on the topic, 'Is Medicine Losing its Way? A firm foundation for medicine a real therapeia'. In his lecture, Cardinal Eijk discussed various non-therapeutic medical practices, such as sexual reassignment surgery, gene doping, assisted reproduction, and assisted dying, in relation to mind-body dualism and the classical Christian conception of the human person as an essential unity of body and soul.

A video recording of the lecture is available to view here.

Professor Joseph Boyle
Cardinal Eijk also celebrated Mass for the benefactors of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre among whom we remember Professor Joseph Boyle who passed away in September 2016. Professor Boyle was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and a long-time friend of the Centre. He was Visiting Research Fellow of the Centre in 2011 and again in 2015. In 2015 he delivered the sixth Anscombe Memorial Lecture on the topic, 'Against "Assisted Dying"'.

A video recording of Professor Boyle's lecture can be viewed here.

Pregnancy book picture We are delighted to announce the publication by Routledge of The Ethics of Pregnancy, Abortion and Childbirth: Exploring Moral Choices in Childbearing by Dr Helen Watt, the Anscombe Centre's Senior Research Fellow. See here for a brief description of the book, chapter headings, and endorsements.

Copies are now on sale here and also on Amazon (electronic/Kindle copy available). To request a review copy, please contact the publisher at Myles.Stavis@taylorandfrancis.com mentioning the journal/publication for which you would like to write a review.

Book Launch
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is delighted to announce the publication and launch, of Thinking Christian Ethos: the meaning of Catholic education. The book, authored by Centre staff David Jones and Stephen Barrie was launched at the annual CATSC/CES conference on 28 January 2016 with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. See here for reviews, endorsements and further details. To request a review copy, please contact CTS or admin@bioethics.org.uk.

What are the Courts saying about assisted suicide?

At the request of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, John Finnis FBA, Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford University and Biolchini Family Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana, has prepared a short briefing paper entitled 'Allowing Assistance in Suicide: What are the Courts Saying?' He has also made available the author's corrected proofs of his 'Casenote to the key legal case Nicklinson v Director of Public Prosecutions'. This Casenote was published in the Law Quarterly Review vol. 131 (January 2015), pp. 1 - 8.

The Centre has also produced a guide to the evidence from jurisdictions that have legalized physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, which raises grave concerns about the impact of such legislation. A two-page briefing entitled 'Eight Reasons not to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide' is also available on our Resources page. In this briefing, David Albert Jones argues that legalizing physician assisted suicide would not address the needs of the dying but would threaten people with disabilities and those who are suicidal. Permitting healthcare professionals to 'encourage or assist' suicide would undermine key principles of law, medical ethics and palliative care.

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Mind, Medicine & Morals: The ethics of psychiatry and mental health care
5-7 July 2018, St Anne's College, Oxford


An international conference on the ethics of psychiatry and mental health care. Speakers include Baroness Sheila Hollins, Former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive of Mind, and Jonathan Herring, Professor of Law at Oxford University. This conference will explore topics such as resource allocation and mental health, ethics of research in psychiatry, compulsory treatment of mental illness, assisted suicide for psychiatric reasons and the mental health effects of sexual abuse.
(more information and registration)

Call for Papers: We also invite submissions of abstracts for short papers by graduate students and early career academics/professionals. Successful submissions will attract a £50 contribution towards travel and accommodation in addition to free conference registration at the day delegate rate. For more information, please see the following document:

Conference Call for Papers