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A U.S. Coalition for Life Commentary

by Randy Engel

Eugenics Meets the Pizza King -

Ave Maria in the Shadow of Auschwitz

Introduction

In late March, 2010, the Naples Daily News released information on a proposal of the Jackson Laboratory of Bar Harbor, Maine, to build a new facility, an Institute for Personalized Medicine and Research in Collier County, Florida, on 50 acres of land (with more to come) donated by Barron Collier Companies. If the deal goes through, this will be Jackson Labs' third major genetic/biotechnology venture in the United States. The project carries a price tag of $710 million with costs being absorbed by state, local and private funds as well as the Jackson Labs itself which is expected to kick in $330 million.  

Barron Collier Companies of Southwest Florida in partnership with the Domino pizza magnate and Catholic philanthropist, Thomas S. Monaghan, is the creator of Ave Maria Town, home of Ave Maria University. The new Institute will be situated off Oil Well Road about three miles from the Ave Maria campus on the southwestern edge of property originally controlled by Ave Maria Development.

 

Last year, Blake Gable, Ave Maria Town project manager and President of Barron Collier's Real Estate Division approached Monaghan to discern if his firm's business partner had any objection to the Jackson Labs project, and if not, would he (Monaghan), be willing to sell his interest in the land to Barron Collier thereby making the project independent of Ave Maria Development joint interests.

 

Concern about the morality of having a large genetic research facility so close to Ave Maria University and Town, Monaghan is reported to have sought advice from the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) in Philadelphia, which ultimately advised him that they could see no moral impediment to the land transaction.

 

After the mention of the Jackson Laboratory, which brought up the first red flag when I first read the Naples News story, for reasons that will soon become obvious, the second red flag popped up with Gable's mention of the NCBC.

 

I first became acquainted with the NCBC in the 1970s under its old name, the Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center in St. Louis. I was dining with the Center's Director, Fr. Albert Moraczewski, O.P., when a heated debate arose between us over the priest's assertion that a physician who refused on religious/moral grounds to perform an abortion, nevertheless had an obligation to provide the woman with a referral to another doctor who was willing to kill the child.  I told him he was in grave error. I don't believe I ever heard from Fr. Moraczewski again. Strike one.

 

In more recent years, the U.S. Coalition for Life has clashed with the NCBC over the latter's support of the definition of "brain death" as a criteria for performing vital organ transplantation. Strike two.

 

The  NCBC's latest pronouncement on the morality of the Jackson Labs land deal, makes for strike three. If Monaghan paid NCBC officials for their advice, he is entitled to a refund.

 

Over the last three months, with the exception of AveWatch, Jackson Labs has been enjoying unprecedented and uncritical good press. On March 26, 2010, The Ave Herald featured a public relations piece titled "Research at Jackson Labs Has Helped Millions." On April 10, 2010, Ave Maria University President, Nicholas J. Healy, Jr. was quoted on Naplesnews.com, "If they [Jackson Labs] were to locate here I think there would be very considerable benefits to the entire area. ...They will bring well-paying jobs and so on. It will help real estate in the town."

 

It appears that the publicists for Jackson Labs have been as equally successful in  keeping any media reference to its eugenic history from the Ave Maria community and secular press as they have been in airbrushing out these same references from their own historical records.

 

The Eugenic History of Jackson Labs Founder

From founder C.C. Little's early genetics experiments through

    recent facility expansions, the Laboratory has a long and proud

                  institutional history.

                                                                          Jackson Lab Milestones

         

            Clarence C. "Prexy" Little (1888 - 1971) caught the pernicious bug of eugenics from one of his Harvard professors, the mammalian geneticist William E. Castle, under whom Little studied and worked on inbred mice colonies as an undergraduate and graduate student. Castle was an organizing member of the Second International Congress of Eugenics (New York, 1921) which in 1922 dissolved into the American Eugenics Society (AES) which was funded by America's powerful industrial elite. The AES  promoted "racial betterment" through positive and negative eugenic programs designed to increase the fit and eliminate the unfit.

 

            After serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I, Little became  a research associate and assistant director of the Carnegie-funded Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, Long, Island, NY. The Cold Spring laboratory was directed by eugenicist Charles B. Davenport, a founder of the AES. It was the sister organization of the Eugenics Record Office, America's epicenter for eugenics, funded by the Harriman family and manned by Harry H. Laughlin. Another founding member of the AES, Laughlin gained national recognition for his formulation of a "model sterilization law" which later served as a basis for Nazi eugenics programs. When Laughlin retired from the Presidency of the AES in 1929, Little took over the office.  

 

            In 1922, one year before accepting the post of President of the University of Maine, Little became a founding director of Margaret Sanger's American Birth Control League, the forerunner of Planned Parenthood-World Population. Little was President of the League from 1936 to 1939 and served as Scientific Director from 1925 to 1945. He also served as a consulting editor of Sanger's racist Birth Control Review which pounded away at the necessity of limiting births of coloured people.  

 

            Little also had a vested interest in the early euthanasia movement. In 1938, he became a trustee of the American Euthanasia Society, which unlike its British counterpart called for both voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia or "mercy killing" of "defective children." At this very time, Little was also holding a post as a Rockefeller appointee to the American Society for the Control of Cancer, later renamed the American Cancer Society, and the American Birth Control League, in addition to his duties as founder/director of the Jackson Labs.

 

The Jackson Labs Promotes Medical Eugenics

 

Little founded the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1929, one year after the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan forced his resignation as President of the University because of Little's position on controversial social issues. Initially, Little's business revolved around the breeding of laboratory mice for other research institutions. But by the time of Little's death in 1971, the non-profit (renamed) Jackson Laboratory had expanded to become an international center of mammalian genetic research as well as a key player in the field of Medical Eugenics.  

 

            The year 1960 was a pivotal year for the Jackson Labs. It was the year of the first  "Bar Harbor Short Course in Medical Genetics" - a summer course for students, physicians and geneticists which united Little's eugenic philosophy with scientific advances in medical eugenics, later renamed human genetics or medical genetics.

 

            This joint venture was directed by John Fuller of the Jackson Labs and Dr. Victor McKusick, architect and Chief of the Division of Medical Genetics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, which shared a symbiotic relationship with the American Eugenics Society. McKusick's mentor was H. Bentley Glass, a Director of the  AES.

 

            As a newly appointed member of the Medical Advisory Board of the March of Dimes, which had switched from polio research to birth defects research in 1958,  McKusick was able to persuade MOD officials that they should finance the Bar Harbor Course.

          By the early 1960s, scientific knowledge and technological developments in areas of gene mapping, cytogenics, cell culture and prenatal testing especially the use of second-trimester amniocentesis combined with a liberalization of abortion laws opened the door for mass pre-natal eugenic killing. McKusick established one of the nation's earliest programs of eugenic abortion at Johns Hopkins directed specifically at Down syndrome children in utero, secured MOD "search and destroy" funding for his like-minded eugenic colleagues, and used his influence at the MOD and Jackson Labs to promote eugenics under the guise of medical genetics.  

          The "Health by Death" ethic, that is the prevention of genetic disorders by the killing of affected pre-born children who are have the disorder, has always been a major theme of the Bar Harbor Course. Guests speakers and faculty members  at the Jackson Labs' Bar Harbor Course have included well-known advocates of eugenic abortion such as Dr. Rodney Howell, Dr. John Littlefield,  and Dr. Orlando J. Miller, all past MOD grantees.

 

Contraceptive Research at Jackson Labs

 

          In 2007, Robert Braun, Ph.D., a specialist in the field of Spermatogenesis,  assumed the role of Associate Director and Research Chair at the Jackson Laboratory. Before coming to the Bar Harbor facility, Braun was employed at the University of Washington School of Medicine where he engaged in reproductive research funded in part by NIHCD's Contraceptive Development Research Centers Program.

 

In the May 24, 2004 issue of Science Daily in an article titled "Researchers Identify Gene Linked To Sperm-Producing Stem Cells In Mammals," Braun discussed the practical implications of such research in the development of a male contraceptive. He said, "Luxoid appears to be important in the cells' decision whether to remain a stem cell, or differentiate. If we can understand all the players then maybe we could develop a drug that could block the decision to become sperm - a contraceptive that would be reversible."

 

            The Jackson Labs website on their Reproductive Biology Division headed by Braun states: "Research into egg and sperm production and associated problems provides new ways to address reproductive disorders such as infertility and the potential for better contraception methods."

Jackson Labs and Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In the April 10, 2010, Naples Daily News issue mentioned in the introduction to this commentary, in an article entitled "Jackson Lab biomedical research and Ave Maria as neighbors. Can they co-exist?," the issue of human embryonic stem cell research is raised by reporter Leslie Williams Hale.

 

According to Ave Marie University President Healy, "Jackson labs does (sic) not do human embryonic stem cell research, which from the point of view of Catholic moral teaching, would be problematic (if they did)."  Problematic indeed, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the deliberate destruction of innocent human life at any stage of development including the earliest embryonic stage, is gravely sinful and prohibited.

 

Healy added that he doesn't have a problem with Jackson's involvement in education on stem cell research.... "There is nothing wrong with having seminars or workshops," he said. "We could have a seminar here on it. The Catholic Church is not afraid to engage issues in science and technology."

 

Even after Jackson Vice President stated that his firm may not have the same world views and philosophy as Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Town, and that Jackson Labs was "not willing to rule out doing human embryonic stem cell research," Healy said he hoped that such research would not come to pass, but if it did he would be open to dialogue with laboratory officers to explain Ave Maria University's objections to human embryonic stem cell research. 

 

What the obviously clueless Healy fails to realize is:

  • Jackson Labs is both in principle and in action an advocate and leader in the promotion of human embryonic stem cell research worldwide and the destruction of human embryos that such research entails.
  • As noted by AveWatch, Jackson Labs markets and sells certain strains of mice specifically designed for human embryonic stem cell research.
  • Also from AveWatch, since 2004, Jackson Labs has received NIH funding for the purpose of holding training workshops to teach scientists how to culture, manipulate, and differentiate human embryonic stem cells in vitro.

A Summary of the Catholic Case Against Jackson Labs

Ok. Let's tally up the arguments against the donation of land to Jackson Labs by Barron Colliers Companies, partners with Thomas Monaghan.

 

Clearly, Jackson Labs officials have deliberately withheld information from the general public and from Ave Maria leaders including Tom Monaghan, regarding the role of its founder/Director, C.C. Little, in the early  eugenic, birth control, sterilization, racial, and euthanasia movements of the first half of the 20th century. Each of these movements was vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church.

 

            Jackson Labs is a major promoter of eugenics and eugenic abortion.

 

            Jackson Labs promotes and engages in human embryonic stem cell experimentation as well as contraceptive research in violation of the Natural Law and Church Law.

 

These objections alone should be enough to convince Barron Colliers Companies to scrap the project. If not, then Monaghan along with pro-life state legislators, right-to-life leaders and residents in Florida, especially the students of Ave Maria University and resident of Ave Maria town, should force the issue.

 

In 1912, Father Thomas J. Gerrard speaking for the Catholic Social Guild, dubbed radical eugenics doctrines as "a complete return to the life of the beast. ...Man is not an animal by nature; the table not a feeding trough, and the home not a biological experimental station" Gerrard said, an obvious slap at the Cold Springs Harbor Experimental Station for the Study of Evolution where C.C. Little was later employed.

 

            Ave Maria Town and Ave Marie University do not need a little Auschwitz in their backyard.   

The End

 

 

Released: Monday, April 26, 2010

 

Media Contact: USCL Office at rvte61@comcast.net or call 724 327-8878 or write Box 315 Export, PA 15632.

 

[Randy Engel is a prolife veteran of more than 40 years. Engel is the founder and Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life (www.uscl.info), the oldest pro-life research agency in the United States and the co-founder with Dr. Jerome Lejeune of Paris, of the Pittsburgh-based International Foundation for Genetic Research/Michael Fund (www.michaelfund.org), the pro-life alternative to the March of Dimes.  The Michael Fund, created in 1978, combines a pro-life philosophy with a truly therapeutic research program centering on treatments/ and cures for chromosomal disorders especially Down syndrome.]