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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, and is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Mr. Doerflinger has testified before Congress, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the National Institutes of Health, the President’s Council on Bioethics, 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 ReportDuquesne Law ReviewCell Proliferation, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, the Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor Press 1997), the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Human Life Review, The Public Discourse, and the American Journal of Bioethics. His biweekly column “A More Human Society” is syndicated by Catholic News Service and published in many Catholic newspapers. 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

  • Update: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion-Derived Cell Lines | September 30, 2020

    To view this chart as a PDF, see: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion-Derived Cell Lines   Updated March 3, 2021   Accurate information about the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines is essential, especially because many proposed candidates use newer molecular technologies for production of a viral vaccine. One concern regarding the ethical assessment of […]

  • A Visual Aid to Viral Infection and Vaccine Production | June 15, 2020

    This is Issue 1 in CLI’s On Science. To view this report as a PDF, see: A Visual Aid to Viral Infection and Vaccine Production   Updated November 2020   Introduction As a result of the rapid spread of the new coronavirus technically known as SARS-CoV-2, the United States and other governments have begun crash […]

  • The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Ethics of Triage | March 26, 2020

    by R. J. Snell, Ph.D. This paper can be viewed as a pdf here: The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Ethics of Triage   As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Italy, many hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, necessitating difficult triage decisions that can seem like choosing who lives and who dies. In the United States, already […]

  • Pro-Life Topics for Lawmakers Regarding Coronavirus | March 25, 2020

    This is Issue 43 in CLI’s On Point Series. To view this report as a PDF, see: On Point 43 Pro-Life Topics for Lawmakers Regarding Coronavirus.   Abortion advocates have found a new ally—COVID-19.   During this intensely stressful time, the vast majority of Americans are focused on protecting their health and the health of […]

  • Assisted Suicide’s Slippery Slope in Action: Washington State May Drop “Safeguards” Against Abuse | January 25, 2021

    Opponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have long warned that there is a “slippery slope” from initially limited acceptance of the practice to a broader “right” to take the lives of the sick and elderly. PAS supporters have generally dismissed this claim as alarmist. In my home state of Washington, however, supporters are now embracing the claim, and urging lawmakers to ski down the slope.

  • The “Equality Act”: Threatening Life and Equality | January 14, 2021

    Former vice-president Joseph Biden has made it clear that on becoming President, he hopes to advance his party’s stand on so-called “social issues” such as abortion and the LGBTQ agenda. His ability to do so will depend on whether he will be working with a Congress that shares his goals.

  • Federal Bioethics Commissions and Bias Against the Unborn | October 5, 2020

    This is Issue 17 in The American Reports Series. The paper may be viewed as a PDF here: Federal Bioethics Commissions and Bias Against the Unborn   In August, the Trump administration’s new Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board reviewed requests made to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for federally funded fetal tissue […]

  • Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Path to Active Euthanasia | November 2, 2018

    To view this report as a PDF, see Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Path to Active Euthanasia   Introduction   Groups promoting the legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have worked for decades to persuade state and national medical societies to support their agenda – or to take a “neutral” stance, widely recognized by advocacy groups and news media […]

  • 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.