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

To sign up to our Mailing List,click here.

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

News & Events

Conference Registration Open - Abortion, Disability and the Law
Abortion Conference 2017 Registration is now open for our upcoming day conference, 'Abortion, Disability and the Law', on Saturday, 18 February 2017, from 9.30am to 4.30pm, in the aula of Blackfriars Hall (St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LY). The conference will examine the ethical, legal, social and psychological issues raised by abortion or childbirth following a diagnosis of foetal anomaly.

Please click here to register (£20 standard; £10 concession). If you have any queries please contact Gwen McCourt ( / 01865 610 212).

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.

A further step to a less human future
4 May 2016 The Centre responds to research, published in Nature Cell Biology, in which human embryos have been cultured in vitro past the implantation stage of development.

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 where you may also purchase an electronic/Kindle copy. To request a review copy, please contact the publisher at mentioning the journal/publication for which you would like to write a review.

Ethos book launch picture
Ethos book launch picture 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

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre welcomes the decision of MPs to reject the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill by a majority of 330 votes to 118. The evidence from jurisdictions that have embraced physician assisted suicide or euthanasia clearly raises grave concerns about the impact of such legislation.

While Westminster had rejected this particular bill, the ethical and political debate is sure to continue and the Centre continues to support critical discussion on this important topic.

The topic of the 6th Annual Anscombe Memorial Lecture is therefore very timely:

Professor Joseph Boyle (University of Toronto)
'Against "Assisted Dying"'

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 two-page briefing entitled 'Eight Reasons not to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide'. 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.

This Anscombe Centre's guide to the evidence and the briefing paper complement other material which is available on the website's Resources page, in particular the booklet on spiritual care of the dying and the papers in the section on euthanasia.