The Ashford Institute's Panel of Experts for the

Applied Bioethics Conference, Summer 2019


We've chosen some of the world's foremost experts in their fields to discuss important research and advances in medical science, but when you attend our conference, you'll also hear from important voices who reveal the human side of contemporary bioethical debates. Our panel includes members of the non-profit sector and patient advocates who know from powerful personal experience what's at stake in the complex ethical dilemmas that medical professionals face today. 


Dr. Martha Shuping, M.D., M.A.

 President, Ashford Institute

Psychiatrist, Private Practice


Dr. Shuping is a practicing psychiatrist with 31 years of experience in private practice and community mental health. She is a 2014 graduate of Harvard Medical School’s Global Clinical Scholars Research Training. She earned her M.D. in 1984 from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and completed her psychiatry residency at North Carolina Baptist Hospital in 1988. Dr. Shuping has been a speaker on women’s mental health and pregnancy related issues at the United Nations and in more than 20 countries. She has facilitated more than 50 Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats for abortion recovery. Dr. Shuping is a trainer for George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health curriculum. Dr. Shuping is a faculty associate of Catholics for Family Peace, an initiative for research and education on domestic violence at Catholic University of America She provides continuing education to nurses on intimate partner violence during pregnancy. She is also adjunct faculty at Belmont Abbey College where she has taught a course on psychological perspectives on reproductive issues. She is author of published research, a self-help book The Four Steps to Healing, and three chapters in the book Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion, edited by Rachel MacNair, Ph.D. Dr. Shuping is a former pregnancy resource center director.


Debbie Capen

Executive Director, Mira Via


Debbie Capen has served women in need through Mira Via since 2008, first as Assistant Director, and since 2017, as Executive Director. Mira Via has a college based residential program for pregnant women who desire to continue their education, and an outreach program to pregnant women, offering counseling, parenting classes, maternity and baby clothing, and more. Debbie has personal experience with an unplanned pregnancy and abortion during her college years, which has motivated her to help provide options for young women today. Debbie has shared her personal abortion story through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and through media interviews.


Byron Calhoun, M.D., FACOG, FACS, FASAM, MBA

Professor and Vice Chair, Dept. of OB/GYN at

West Virginia University School of Medicine-Charleston


Dr. Calhoun is a 1979 Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He earned his MD from the University of Iowa Medical School in 1983, completed OB/GYN residency at Missouri-Columbia in 1987, and completed a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Oregon Health Sciences University in 1989. He is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and in Addictions Medicine. Dr. Calhoun practices maternal-fetal medicine, performs diagnostic obstetrical ultrasound, participates in prenatal diagnosis, and teaches residents and medical students. He has authored 82 peer-reviewed articles in the obstetric and gynecologic literature, presented over 100 scientific papers, and participated in over 40 research projects. He recently edited and published a new book (March, 2016, Springer publication) dealing with addictions in women’s health titled, Tobacco Cessation and Substance Abuse Treatment in Women’s Healthcare. He is an Associate Scholar of Charlotte Lozier Institute.



Sandy Christiansen, M.D., OB/ GYN

National Medical Consultant, Care Net

Board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist


Dr. Christiansen was in private practice from 1990 – 2000, and currently serves as National Medical Consultant to Care Net and as medical director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Frederick, Maryland. Dr. Christiansen has testified on reproductive issues before the President’s Council on Bioethics, the Maryland Senate and Capitol Hill. She has presented at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.



Cindy Collins



Cindy Collins is the founder of several global and community outreach organizations, including, focusing on awareness of the effects of abortion, human trafficking, sexual slavery, exploitation and behavior causing destruction and oppression. SpeakHope also provides restoration through mentoring, advocacy and counseling. Cindy, with Dr. Laura Lederer, produced an online training program to teach professionals and peer counselors how to screen for trafficking and appropriate actions to take if it is discovered that a woman is a trafficking victim.

Heather Featherston

Director, Lifetime Adoption


Heather Featherston is an adoption professional and author, with 17 years of experience in adoption work. As Director of Lifetime Adoption, she often speaks to groups around the U.S. about adoption. She was a contributing author to the 2011 book Called to Adoption, and has written a chapter for a book on pregnancy counseling to published in 2019. She is an expert in open adoption.


Rebekah Buell Hagan


Rebekah experienced two unintended pregnancies during her teens. During her second pregnancy, she visited two abortion clinics while trying to make a decision. After taking the abortion pill, mifepristone (RU-486) Rebekah felt distressed and wanted a second chance for her baby. She shares her experience of receiving daily progesterone injections in the hope of giving birth to a healthy child. Her story gives insight into women’s experiences of unintended pregnancy and how pregnancy decisions are made.


Sheila Harper

Founder and President, SaveOne


SaveOne is an international outreach ministry for men and women suffering in silence after reproductive losses, including miscarriage and abortion, founded by  Sheila Harper in 2000. Sheila has traveled the world speaking on the topic of abortion recovery as well as training abortion recovery leaders. She holds a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling and has authored 8 books. Her most recent book, Finding You, is a workbook for recovery from sexual abuse. Her book SaveOne – A Guide to Emotional Healing after Abortion has been translated and distributed in fifteen languages. Sheila is a personal survivor of sexual abuse and has personally experienced abortion. 



Jack Harper

Vice President, Men's Director, SaveOne

Jack Harper has been involved as a SaveOne board member and liaison to the global church  for  the organization founded by his wife, Sheila.  In 2018, joined the SaveOne staff full time.  His own life experience as an alcoholic who found freedom after giving his life to Christ has led him to invest in the restoration of others.   He is the author of Gifts from God and is currently working on two new books due out in 2019: Ten Days in the Upper Room, and Eight Days of Miracles.



Donna Harrison, M.D.

Executive Director, A.A.P.L.O.G.


Dr. Harrison has taught continuing medical education in the U.S. and internationally on topics of medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol, adverse events associated with mifepristone (RU-486) and misoprostol, emergency contraception with ulipristal, maternal mortality, and the short- and long-term complications of abortion. She has also spoken on these topics at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She is an adjunct professor at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL, recently teaching a postgraduate continuing medical education seminar on current reproductive technologies ethical implications. She has authored peer-reviewed papers on the RU-486 approval process, adverse events associated with medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol, and mechanisms of action of ulipristal. Dr. Harrison also has patient care experience in Haiti and India, in addition to U.S. practice settings. 


Matthew Harrison, M.D.

Medical Advisor, Abortion Pill Rescue


Dr. Harrison is a medical advisor for Abortion Pill Rescue, a network of healthcare professionals who help implement all aspects of the Abortion Pill Reversal Protocol: the trained consultants answering the hotline calls, the medical professionals prescribing the medication, and the support team that works with the woman throughout the entire process. He has served as Hospitalist Director of Novant Health Rowan Regional Medical Center in North Carolina. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with BS and MA degrees, The Medical College of Virginia/VCU with his MD degree and completed residency at University of South Alabama as a board-certified physician in Family Medicine. He is the Medical Director of the student health clinic at Belmont Abby College as well as Associate Professor at Campbell School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Katherine Hearn

Katherine has a BS in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina (1976) and a Masters of Religion in Apologetics from  Southern Evangelical Seminary (2009).  Katherine speaks from personal experience on issues related to pregnancy and  pregnancy loss having had an abortion in 1976, and then having found healing through a faith-based approach that changed her life.  Katherine and her husband have two grown children and currently reside in Charlotte, NC.



Jennifer Lahl, R.N., M.A.

President, Center for Bioethics and Culture


Jennifer Lahl is founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. She combines 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, especially regarding egg and womb trafficking. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. She is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has twice addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking. She has been involved in writing, directing and producing, several documentaries on topics related to ethical issues in third-party reproduction including the award-winning film, Eggsploitation. She serves on the North American Editorial Board for Ethics and Medicine.

Laura J. Lederer, J.D.

President, Global Centurion


Dr. Lederer is a pioneer in the work to stop human trafficking. She serves as the President of Global Centurion, an NGO fighting human trafficking by focusing on demand. Prior to her work at Global Centurion she served for eight years in the U.S. Department of State as Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons to Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. From 2002 - 2009, she was also the Executive Directorship of the Senior Policy Operating Group on Trafficking in Persons, a policy group that staffed the President’s cabinet-level Inter agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons. She founded and directed The Protection Project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and moved it to Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in the year 2000. At Georgetown Law Center, she developed and co-taught the first law school course on human trafficking from 2001 – 2014. She is the author of numerous books and articles, most recently, “The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking,” published in the Annals of Health Law, and a 2018 book entitled, Modern Slavery: A Documentary and Reference Guide, published by ABC-CLIO. Currently she is serving as Subject Matter Expert on Human Trafficking for the Family Youth Services Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kathy Schmugge

Director of Family Life, Diocese of Charleston

Kathy has a Master of Theological Studies, and an M.S. in Healthcare Bioethics. 
She has served as a consultant for medical bioethics cases including end of life issues. She is a former chemistry professor at Catawba Valley Community College, and was a Nuclear Power Instructor in the U.S. Navy for 5 years. For the past 14 years, she has served as Director of Family Life for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, supervising several ministries including marriage preparation, abortion recovery ministry, and others. 

Also Featuring:

Kathi A Aultman, M.D.  

Associate Scholar,  Charlotte Lozier Institute 


Kathi Aultman, M.D. is a board-certified Ob/Gyn and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She obtained her B.A. at Drew University College of Liberal Arts in1972, earned her medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1977, and completed her Ob/Gyn Residency at the University of Florida affiliated Jacksonville Health Education Program in 1981.   Dr. Aultman was a co-founder and co-director of the first Rape Treatment Center in Jacksonville, Florida and performed sexual assault exams on women and children as a medical examiner for Duval and Clay Counties. She performed 1st trimester suction D&C abortions and received special training in 2nd trimester D&E’s. She also served as the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Jacksonville from 1981 to 1983. Her experiences doing abortions, and those in her Ob/Gyn practice, led her to a prolife position. She subsequently testified extensively before state and congressional bodies, in state courts, and assisted various state attorneys and the Justice Department in defending the ban on Partial Birth Abortion. She has more recently testified at the state and national level on a variety of pro-life bills. She spoke at the 2019 Washington D.C. March for life Rally and was the keynote speaker at the 2019 March for Life Rose Dinner.  She participated in Clay County’s We Care program and the Healing Hands Clinic in Jacksonville to provide free care for uninsured patients. She cared for the female crew members of Mercy Ships in and out of the country and participated in their medical outreaches overseas.  Dr. Aultman received the Clay County Medical Society’s “Award of Excellence” and the Florida Medical Association’s Distinguished Physician Certificate, “A Physician Who Cares” and their “Harold Strasser, MD Good Samaritan Award.” She served on the Ethics Commission of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, the Quality Assurance Committee for NF OB/GYN Associates, the Governing Board (Chair for many years), Medical Executive Committee and Quality Assurance Committees of the Orange Park Surgery Center and the Board of Community Health Outreach which provides medical and dental care as well as food and other services to the needy. She retired from her medical practice in Orange Park, Florida where she worked from 1981-2014. She is currently an Associate Scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute and is a member of the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.


Annette Lancaster, M.H.A.

Patient Diversity Coordinator at Cone Health

Annette has a B.A. from Elon College in North Carolina, and an M.H.A. in Health Care Administration from Ashford University of San Diego, California. She is currently the Patient Diversity Coordinator for Cone Health in North Carolina, and previously worked in health care administration at Duke University School of Nursing.  Her past experience also includes the position of Health Care Manager at a clinic that provided family planning and abortions.