Nikolas T. Nikas

Nikolas T. Nikas is co-founder, president and general counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund (BDF), a public-interest organization that creates winning arguments for life to benefit lawmakers, courts, students and citizens across the United States and abroad. Nikas addresses bioethics issues including abortion, healthcare rights of conscience, human cloning/embryonic stem cell research, and end of life matters.

Nikas is known for clearly integrating the principles of natural law and political theory with the facts of science and medicine as the foundation for dynamic educational speaking events, and the development of model legislation and litigation strategies.

Nikas is a dynamic speaker, having lectured on the full range of bioethics topics at leading medical schools and law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell and dozens of others. He has lectured internationally at legal and medical conferences, including the Rome conference of Matercare, and legal and medical symposia throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.

Among other cases, Nikas has litigated ballot initiatives regarding human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, healthcare rights of conscience, clinic regulations and state-passed limits on late-term abortion. Nikas has organized and participated in the oral argument preparation for attorneys arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court addressing the issues of partial-birth abortion, Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), and free speech for peaceful sidewalk counselors, McCullen v. Coakley (2014).

In the realm of model legislation, Nikas has consulted with policy leaders and lawmakers in state legislatures, along with members and legal staff of the President’s Council on Bioethics in Washington, D.C. during the Bush administration.  He has testified before the U.S. Senate on abortion and First Amendment rights.

Nikas received his B.A. (1979) and M.A. (1981) in government and international relations from the University of Notre Dame, with his masters focusing on political theory. He received his Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, in 1986 from Arizona State University College of Law. He and his wife Melinda, the parents of five grown children, live in Phoenix, Arizona.


  • Arizona State University College of Law, Order of the Coif (J.D.)
  • University of Notre Dame (B.A., M.A.)


  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits
  • U.S. District of Arizona
  • Arizona State Bar

Publications of Note

  • Nikas N.T., Bordlee D., Morena M., Determination of Death and the Dead Donor Rule: A Survey of the Current Law on Brain Death, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (2016). [link]
  • Nikas, Nikolas T., Abortion and Law: Crisis of Reason in Western Jurisprudence, Protection of Human Life in Its Early Stage: Intellectual Foundations and Legal Means, Aleksander Stepkowski, ed., Ad Fontes, Vol. 10 (Peter Lang Edition: 2014). [link]
  • Nikas, Nikolas T., Law and Public Policy to Protect Health-Care Rights of Conscience, The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1 at 41 (Spring 2004). [link]
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