Tom Shakely

Research Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism

Tom Shakely is a Research Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, where he focuses on human dignity, human rights, and law and policy. Tom also serves as Chief Engagement Officer at Americans United for Life, a national leader in advancing life-affirming law and policy, where he hosts "Life, Liberty, and Law," featuring conversations on the human right to life.

Tom previously served as Executive Director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, whose Crisis Lifeline serves patients and families facing denial of basic care and strives to awaken the conscience on human dignity and bioethical issues.

Tom has spoken on human rights issues at the United Nations, testified to the District of Columbia City Council on conscience rights, and advised on testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. House of Representatives. Tom is a member of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and Knights of Columbus, and is a Charlotte Lozier Institute guest contributor and a Sons of the American Revolution life member. Tom serves as a board member for the Mount Nittany Conservancy and has previously served as a board member for the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia and as an at-large member of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council in Philadelphia, as well as a National Review Institute Washington fellow and as a Leonine Forum fellow.

Tom holds a B.A. in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in Bioethics from the University of Mary, and Certification with Distinction in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Tom has written for National Review, HuffPost, National Catholic Register, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and other nationally recognized media.

Archives

Carter Snead on the Fundamental Disagreement of Our Time: What a Person Is

“The fundamental disagreement … is about what a person is — what human flourishing is, what is the nature of human identity, what is human nature, is there such a thing as human nature. And I think that it divides along, broadly, two polarities that you see play out in our public conversations and our private conversations…” One view, as Professor Carter Snead of Notre Dame lays out in this rich five minutes, is that what defines a human being is that you have “will and desire”. The other and older view is what Alasdair MacIntyre calls “recipricol indebtedness”: Professor Snead points to the question of telos; to whether human life has any concrete end or purpose outside of our Read More ›

Independence Day and Renewed Vigor

Happy Independence Day! As America marks July 4th, it’s worth taking a few moments to pause in gratitude for the Declaration of Independence and its lasting importance for what America’s framers recognized about the human person, the source of human dignity, and the nature of human rights. Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life (and a colleague and friend) writes in National Review today on why the Declaration still matters for all Americans: Amid our national dialogue over race and justice, my family’s reading of the Declaration of Independence will be even more meaningful than usual this Fourth of July. At the core of the Declaration — the founding political document of America — is the principle that the Read More ›

‘The Committee Heard From People Who Had Made Plans for Suicide’

Australia braces for more intentional killing, as Queensland appears set to join Victoria in embracing what we euphemistically term “assisted dying”: Queenslanders are set to find out this week whether [assisted suicide and/or lethal injection euthanasia] laws will be introduced by the Palaszczuk government. In March, a parliamentary health committee recommended Queensland legalise voluntary assisted dying for adults with advanced terminal medical conditions. … The committee, which began its inquiry in November 2018, gauged public opinion on the issue and found most Queenslanders were in favour of helping terminally ill people to die. The committee heard from people who had made plans for suicide in circumstances where they had a life-limiting illness or debilitating condition. It found a terminally-ill person Read More ›

What If We Ignored Those Most Vulnerable to COVID-19?

“We locked down America with relative speed in March and we avoided all the worst predictions of the potential impact of the coronavirus, but we struggled to reach consensus anywhere on how to responsibly open back up.” If we had to write the one sentence history of the COVID-19 pandemic today, that would be something like America’s version. We don’t know how things will continue to play out, but what’s clear at the moment is that state and local leaders appear to be paralyzed. Unfortunately, those bearing some of the greatest costs of this ruling class paralysis aren’t likely the first to come to our minds. Their story is not told in the TL/DR history of this time. We’re witnessing Read More ›

Autonomy, Ezekiel Emanuel, and the Limits of Advance Directives

One of the lessons (wrong, it turns out) that Americans took from the Terri Schiavo fight goes something like this: “What made Terri’s situation so tragic was that she didn’t have a “living will,” an advance directive. If she had only had one of those, everything would have worked out fine.” Advance directives, more commonly called “living wills,” are simple enough documents. Aging with Dignity is just one of many organizations that offers a “simple” advance directive. You run through a list of treatments or care you do or do not want to receive in the future, putting pen to paper, and viola! — you can now rest easy knowing your wishes will be respected should you no longer be Read More ›

China, the Virus, and the Imperative to Build for Tomorrow

Marc Andreessen’s “It’s Time To Build” is a hopeful cri de coeur in this time of pandemic. Americans, and American elite leadership specifically, need what strikes me as essentially a spiritual awakening, and Andreessen speaks to that in his own way by pointing out that an ugly aspect of American life that this virus has revealed is a sort of cultural impotence: Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, but it’s not too early to ask why, and what we need to do about it. Many of us would like to pin the cause on one political party or another, Read More ›