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Richard Doerflinger, M.A.

Associate Scholar

Richard M. Doerflinger is a Public Policy Fellow with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture and an Adjunct Fellow in Bioethics and Public Policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He was formerly Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he worked for 36 years. Among his duties was the preparation of policy statements and congressional testimony on abortion, euthanasia, conscience rights in health care, embryo research, and other medical-moral issues for the bishops’ conference. He also serves on the Advisory Board to The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.

Mr. Doerflinger has testified before Congress, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the National Institutes of Health, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and several state legislatures on the way public policy treats human life at its most vulnerable stages.  His writings on medical ethics and public policy include contributions to The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the Hastings Center Report, Duquesne Law ReviewCell Proliferation, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, the Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor Press 1997), the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, and the American Journal of Bioethics. He holds a BA degree and an MA in Divinity from the University of Chicago, and conducted doctoral studies in Theology at that institution and the Catholic University of America.

In January 2009, Mr. Doerflinger became one of the first recipients of the Gerard Health Foundation’s “Life Prize,” honoring efforts to awaken the conscience of America to the sanctity of human life.  In April 2011, he became the first recipient of the “Evangelium Vitae Medal,” awarded annually by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture “to honor individuals whose outstanding efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.”

Latest Research & News

  • Food for Thought: The Push to Starve Helpless Seniors | March 29, 2018

    On March 11, The Washington Post reported on efforts to expand the “right to die” in Oregon and elsewhere.   The state has passed legislation to study changing its law on “advance directives,” by which people can decide on future care in case they lose cognitive powers. A key supporter of this effort is Bill […]

  • Open Letter to the Hawaii Legislature On Assisted Suicide | March 9, 2018

    To view this Special Report as a PDF, see: Open Letter to the Hawaii Legislature on Assisted Suicide   March 4, 2018     Dear Hawaii Legislators:   Friends in Hawaii have asked me to comment on the pending bill HB 2739, titled the “Our Care, Our Choice Act.”  For three decades I analyzed proposals of […]

  • Oregon’s Assisted Suicides: The Up-to-Date Reality in 2017 | March 1, 2018

    To view this paper as a PDF, see: Oregon’s Assisted Suicides: The Up-to-Date Reality in 2017   In February 2018 the Oregon Health Authority released its latest annual report on legally authorized physician-assisted suicides, covering deaths that occurred in 2017.[1]  This provides a renewed opportunity to test the constantly repeated claim of the advocacy group […]

  • A Reality Check on Assisted Suicide in Oregon | April 13, 2017

    In short, despite a thoroughly inadequate reporting system designed to cover up rather than reveal problems, Oregon shows exactly the problems that critics predicted: No meaningful protection against coercion, influence by others on patients with depression and dementia, an expansion beyond imminently dying patients, and a road toward active euthanasia.

  • The Effect of Legalizing Assisted Suicide on Palliative Care and Suicide Rates: A Response to Compassion and Choices | March 3, 2017

    The leading national organization promoting legalization of physician-assisted suicide, “Compassion & Choices” (formerly known as the Hemlock Society), has distributed a December 2016 “Medical Aid in Dying Fact Sheet” in various state legislatures around the country to persuade them to approve what they call “medical aid in dying.”

  • Q&A with the Scholars: Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia | January 30, 2017

    Richard Doerflinger, M.A., is a Public Policy Fellow with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture and an Adjunct Fellow in Bioethics and Public Policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. In this interview, he discusses physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.