WYA Releases New Declaration on Human Dignity and Bioethics


March 5-8, 2018 NEW YORK CITY—World Youth Alliance recently concluded its 15th International Solidarity Forum on Human Dignity and Bioethics at the World Youth Alliance and United Nations Headquarters.

The International Solidarity Forum (ISF) is WYA’s annual training event. The ISF brought together 40 World Youth Alliance members from  Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and North America. The 2018 theme “Human Dignity and Bioethics” opened discussions on Surrogacy, Physician Assisted Suicide, Mental Health and Palliative Care. After listening to the experts, WYA delegates then negotiated an outcome document articulating WYA’s views on the topics mentioned above.


Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. She serves on the North American Editorial Board for Ethics and Medicine and on the Board of Reference for Joni Eareckson Tada’s Institute on Disability. She made her writing and directing debut producing the documentary film Eggsploitation, which has been awarded Best Documentary by the California Independent Film Festival and has sold in more than 30 countries. She is also Director, Executive Producer, and Co-Writer of Anonymous Father’s Day (2011). In 2014, she completed what is now a trilogy of films on the ethics of third-party reproduction with Breeders: A Subclass of Women?, which focuses on surrogacy.

Charles Donovan is the President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. He served as Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee from 1979-1981, was a writer for President Ronald Reagan for eight years, helped to lead the Family Research Council for nearly two decades, and served as Senior Research Fellow in Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, where he co-chaired the Foundation’s Religious Liberty Working Group alongside former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese III. Chuck has helped develop public policy on legal protection for the unborn, public financing of abortion, alternatives to abortion, the child tax credit, marriage penalty relief, health care, and conscience rights.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Donovan grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife, Meg, have four children and a grandson.

Stephanie Woodward is the Director of Advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY where she leads Disability Rights advocacy efforts on a local, statewide, and national level. Stephanie attended Syracuse University College of Law where she earned her J.D. with a certificate in Disability Law and Policy and her M.S.Ed. in Disability Studies. Stephanie previously worked as a litigator in Miami, Florida focusing on Disability Rights law. Stephanie is a proud disabled person and member of ADAPT, a national grass-roots community that organizes to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. Stephanie has been arrested multiple times while advocating for Disability Rights. While Stephanie’s work spans across all areas of Disability Rights, she is particularly interested in deinstitutionalization, community living, ending violence against people with disabilities, and improving access in the community. She has also spoken on opposition to legalizing assisted suicide at conferences and other public forums as well as in media interviews.

Weronika Janczuk is World Youth Alliance North America’s Regional Director. Weronika was born to Polish parents in Canada, grew up in Minnesota, and came to New York to study, graduating from NYU with a self-designed B.A. in the Philosophy of the Human Person. She sold novels as a literary agent for a few years, is a former WYA intern, and loves tea.

Nadja Wolfe is World Youth Alliance’s Director of Advocacy. Nadja’s interest in human rights began when she learned about modern slavery when she was thirteen. She graduated magna cum laude from Washington & Lee University where she majored in Russian Area Studies and Theatre Arts and minored in Poverty and Human Capability. As a Bonner Leader (AmeriCorps volunteer) during college, she worked at a women’s shelter and spent a summer teaching English to refugees in Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from William & Mary Law School in 2014 and came to WYA that autumn as an advocacy fellow. Nadja is a New Englander at heart, but has also worked and studied in Virginia, New York, Russia, Senegal, Poland, and Azerbaijan. She is a licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.

Tom Shakely is executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, whose mission is “upholding human dignity through service to the medically vulnerable.” He lives in Philadelphia, where he is vice-chair of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia and Guiding Star Ministries maternity home. Tom is a member of Democrats for Life and a past member of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. He has written for National Review Online, HuffPost, and others.

William Breitbart, M.D. is Chairman, the Jimmie C. Holland Chair in Psychiatric Oncology, and Attending Psychiatrist, Psychiatry Service, in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY. Dr. Breitbart is also Attending Psychiatrist, Supportive Care Service, Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Vice Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Countries Represented:

  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Kenya
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • the Philippines
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain
  • United States of America

ISF Highlights

Experts in the field of the theme, including activists, doctors, researchers, and scholastics, presented global issues to the participants. The positions expressed by the lecturers in the ISF greatly influenced the declaration made. Hosting the ISF at United Nations Headquarters allowed participants to learn about the UN system by experiencing it through attendance at concurrent UN Commissions and other meetings. As a diverse group of people from different parts of the world, delegates experienced different cultures and shared a part of themselves at the negotiations. The discussions tackled topics reflecting insights from their respective regions.

Many thanks to the Permanent Mission of St. Lucia to the United Nations for their support of this event!

We are pleased to announce that the Declaration on Human Dignity and Bioethics is now officially published on the site.