Thursday, December 30, 2004

When prolife Dems attack

Ardent pro-choicers around America are deeply disturbed that the Democratic party over the last few weeks has hinted that there could be some slight possibility that they may be moving ever so slightly away from their hardcore pro-choice position.

They find it appalling and terrifying that as the LA Times reports, Democratic "Party leaders say...they are looking at ways to soften the hard line, such as promoting adoption and embracing parental notification requirements for minors and bans on late-term abortions."

Liberal Oasis tries to defend the importance of the Dems keeping the hardline position by saying that they've de-emphasized it enough, "Did Kerry give one speech on the subject since the March For Women’s Lives back in April? Did the campaign run a single TV ad about abortion?"

Never thinking that maybe Kerry didn't speak out on abortion because he knew that it was an issue that would hurt him, especially if he ever got away from or had to actually explain the "personally opposed but" line. The reason: Liberal Oasis is still buying into the "majority of people/voters are pro-choice" myth. The linking to the less-than-accurate and broad-answer-option exit poll abortion question won't help. Another problem is that they also fail to realize that the current position of the Democratic party is that abortion should always be legal not mostly and always. This position only goes along with 21% of the poll's respondents. And that's not mentioning the other issues, i.e. tax dollars should be spent to pay for abortions, parents shouldn't be notified before their child's abortion, partial-birth abortion should stay legal, informed consent, etc., etc. that the majority of voters disagree with the hardline position of the Democratic party.

In related news, this piece byWilliam McGurn in First Things describes the revenge of the late great prolife Democrat Robert Casey who said, "But the Democrats’ national decline—or better, their national disintegration—will continue relentlessly and inexorably until they come to grips with these values issues, primarily abortion."

Or this piece by Democrats for Life Executive Director Kristen Day.

Granholm signs Senate Bill 72

In what I consider a somewhat surprising move, Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed Senate Bill 72. More information and links to the actual bill are here.

Will EMILY's List disapprove or did Granholm get their permission first?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Crime of Offering Low Prices

On January 3, 2005, The Nation will waste loads of paper by printing this joke of an article by Liza Featherstone.

The article demonizes Wal-mart for offering low prices and attacks Wal-mart for placing stores in low-income areas where low prices for basic goods are needed the most. The author feels Wal-mart should be unionized because we all know how teenagers who stock shelves need to get paid $16 an hour.

Featherstone never thinks once about how unionizing Wal-mart would lead to large price increases which would hurt the poor families she attempts to advocate for.

Bill Steigerwald at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review provides a complete take down on Featherstone's piece.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Could Michigan's state legislature be the Zero of the Year?

It's tough competition but Michigan's state legislature is up for NARAL's most depressing (I mean coveted) award of the year at this web site. They're up against stiff competition like Ashcroft, Coburn, and W so don't expect a win but I'm still hopeful.

Michigan's state legislature is up for NARAL's Zero of the Year award "for passing a near-total ban on abortion. We expect anti-choice advocates to use the new law in the courts to overturn Roe v. Wade."

As usual, NARAL has no evidence to back up some of their ludicrous claims. The legislation, called the Legal Birth Definition, isn't even really an abortion ban per se and there is no way that it could be considered by anyone who has read it to be a "near-total ban on abortion."

It is one of the brightest recent ideas in the history of prolife legislation. Its aim is to prevent partial birth abortion by defining legal birth and therefore the commencement of legal rights at the time when any non-severed portion of a child's body has been removed from their mother. Once part of the child has been removed, that child is considered born and is therefore a born person deserving the same right to life that you and I have. It doesn't come out and ban partial birth abortion but turns partial birth abortion into infanticide by defining birth.

The legislation was originally passed with near veto proof majorities in the Michigan House and Senate. It was vetoed by Governor Granholm. Michigan's constituion thankfully has a clause that allows citizens to initiate legislation through a petition process that cannot be vetoed by the governor and becomes law if passed by both legislative houses. Right to Life of Michigan then launched a petition drive that allowed the citizens of Michigan to override Granholm's veto.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

World's smallest newborn

Blogicus is linking to this story about a child (Rumaisa Rahman) who weighed just 8.6 ounces at birth. To convert that into metric, that's about 250 grams. Rumaisa's twin sister, Hiba, weighed 20 ounces or about 570 grams at birth.

In Michigan for the year 2003, there were at least 106 children aborted who weighed over 400 grams and at least 508 children who weighed between 100 and 400 grams when they were aborted.


Abortion story

How many young women in America have a similar story to this one? The story about tryingtosmile's abortion experience is towards the bottom.

Some excerpts:
"I was anxious, tired and starting to feel the symptoms of my pregnancy. I started having second thoughts, but I fought them off. I worked late to get things off of my mind, but I was 95% sure that I wanted to go through with this. To me this felt like a ball and chain weighing me down. I finally told my sister (the one with twins) and she cried on the phone and begged me not to go through with it. My ex-boyfriend brought the money over for the abortion. We talked some more about what the procedure was and how I would probably feel afterwards. He looked really sad and stated that if he was stable; he would help me with the baby, that is, if I really wanted it."

"It’s finally a reality that I killed my child, my flesh and blood. I tell my close co-worker (who had an abortion as well) and she told me that I made the decision and I should just pray. To make a long story short, I cried every time I thought about it and especially when I talked to my mom about my nieces and nephew’s Christmas gift. This is a niece or nephew that my siblings will never see, a grandchild that my parents will never know and a child that I will never see grow up."


"I do know that if I ever get pregnant again, I will not have another abortion. It’s just too painful."

Judiciary Committee

Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters blog has a good post about how GOP is strengthening the Judiciary committe. He also discusses the lame analogies of pro-abortion activists.

Hopefully, putting Brownback and Coburn on the committee along with the supposed taming of Specter will help the fate of prolife judicial nominees.

I don't think the pro-choice crowd will put their full "strength" against a nominee to replace Rehnquist but if John Paul Stevens dies or steps down or if Sandra Day O'Connor quits, then they'll turn the rhetoric up even higher.

Monday, December 20, 2004

SNL cartoon

Michelle Malkin is posting about a cartoon that ran Saturday night on Saturday Night Live. She gives the final word to Ace of Spades who I believe is right on the nose.

The cartoon whether its purpose was to rip on conservatives or make fun of liberals was wholly unfunny. I didn't laugh once. This SNL cartoon (which aired on November 20th) was also unfunny and seemed like Red State hate. What happened to Fun with Real Audio or the Ex-Presidents? Those would at least have a couple of laughs. SNL has gotten so lousy this year that my wife and I usually make it thru the local news and its 4 weather updates before falling asleep on the couch after the first couple of SNL skits. Our hopes to make it to Weekend Update usually fail unless we're hopped up on Red Bull. It's sad that a show that used to be so good has become less entertaining than almost any half-baked reality show.

NARAL- at it again

A NARAL intern wasted too much (or maybe not enough) time on this.

Stem cells and Safire

Thanks goodness William Safire is giving up his Op-Ed column in the NY Times. Every time he talks about cloning or embryonic stem cell research he gets a little riled up because he says things that are simply not ture.

His column on December 15th while not entirely bad or as bad as this column 6 months ago was at times either dishonest or ignorant. For example:

" The moral issue of destroying potential lives to save actual lives may be dealt with by scientists who are not in conflict with ethicists."

Even though he goes on to discuss adult stem cell research I can't let the phrase "potential lives" go by. There is no such thing as potential life- things are either dead or alive. These living human embryos that are killed for their stem cells are human beings not potential lives.

He continues with, " Therapeutic cloning of cells for the worthy purpose of curing disease, however, troubles people who fear the slippery slope leading to attempts to clone human beings. A majority of Americans disagree with the slippery-slopers, and come down on the side of running that danger in the hope of finding cures."

Cloning of cells? Leading to attempts to clone human beings? Come on Safire. Do you mean cloning of embryonic human beings and leading to attempts to bring these clones to birth. I mean this is cloning 101. His article might play with those that have no knowledge of how cloning works but anyone who has done any research on this subject can tell that Safire is being misleading.

Compare this with Michael Fumento's well-researched and fact based article on adult stem cell research in the National Review.

Friday, December 17, 2004

After Roemer already

Planned Parenthood's Gloria Feldt is already using her blog (entry for December 16th) to attack former prolife Congressman and current candidate for the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Roemer.

Gloria's is upset because Roemer has been endorsed by both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Having a prolifer lead the only political party her organization has any influence over has got to be extremely scary for Ms. Feldt.

Is partial-birth abortion gruesome?

Media Matters (a joke of an organization if there ever was one) is mad that a Newsweek reporter is using "gruesome" to describe partial birth abortions in this article. They call using the word "gruesome" to describe the gruesome killing of children as "Republican terminology."

They think that Newsweek should use the term "intact dilation and extraction" or "so-called partial birth abortion." For one, not a large percentage of the population knows that "intact dilation and extraction" is partial birth abortion. You ask someone on the street what intact dilation and extraction is and you'll get a funny look and a wrong answer but if you ask them if they know what partial-birth abortion is you'll get probably get an affirmative response. Second, how can it be "so-called" partial birth abortion. Aren't we talking about an abortion procedure where the child is partially born? Is that description somehow inaccurate?

Interestingly, abortion "rights" supporters have used similar words to describe this gruesome procedure. Frances Kissling, longtime president of Catholics for a Free Choice says that "all methods of abortion along this continuum (after 15 weeks) are grim, as frankly are all late-term abortion procedures" here. She continues by saying, "there is nothing aesthetically attractive about the abortion of fully formed, relatively well-developed fetuses" and "gruesome nature of late term abortion procedures."

This web site provides quotes from other pro-choice sources that mimic Kissling like, " "You're looking between the woman's legs; you're seeing, you know, what the doctor's doing. And it's what a lot of people would call kind of, I guess, gruesome- that's not really the word because- it's identifiable. I mean, when he...takes the forceps and pulls out a foot, you can see the foot, and my reaction- because I feel so strongly that women who want to have a twenty week abortion should be able to have that- but I mean when I look and was just like, you know, my first reaction was, you know, I was pretty horrified."

Or Atul Gawande in Slate saying "If partial-birth abortion is too gruesome to allow, however, it is hard to see how other late abortions, especially D and Es, are any different."

Late-term abortions are gruesome. Using the word "gruesome" to describe an obviously gruesome procedure is not bias, it is accurate reporting.

Read the Newsweek article - it includes this quote, "When Ellen Malcolm, president of the pro-choice political network EMILY's List, asked about the future direction of the party, Kerry tackled one of the Democrats' core tenets: abortion rights. He told the group they needed new ways to make people understand they didn't like abortion. Democrats also needed to welcome more pro-life candidates into the party, he said. "There was a gasp in the room," says Nancy Keenan, the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America."

Kerry has more guts than I thought. Can you imagine the "I could just kill you eyes" of Malcolm, Keenan, and any other leader of a pro-abortion organization in the room?

Gives me the chills. Ehh.

Healing Flubber

German doctors have used stem cells from fat to repair the skull of a 7 year-old girl. Before the surgery this "girl wore a protective helmet" and "her brain could sometimes be seen pulsating through the missing areas of her skull."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Planned Parenthood - still America's #1 abortion provider

Planned Parenthood's newest annual report is out and no one is surprised that the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood clinics went up again. In 2003, they performed 244,628 abortions. That's up 6.1% from last year and up a whopping 48.1% from 1997 when they performed 165,174 abortions.

Also of note is that their number of adoption referrals again decreased from 1,963 to 1,774. Since 1997, when Planned Parenthood referred 9,381 women to adoption agencies, their # of adoption referrals has gone down 81.1%.

Planned Parenthood, one of the world's most profitable "non-profits" also raked in $35.2 million dollars in profit (excess of revenue over expenses).

One thing I find interesting in the annual report is Planned Parenthood's obsession with celebrities. Page 20 lists off the names of numerous celebrities who support them. I find this telling because it's like they think that real people actually care what these celebrities (including Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, and Christina Aguilera) think about the abortion issue. They don't understand that most people don't think too highly of the morality or opinions of undereducated actors, comedians and singers.

It's almost like they think, "If people know that Kevin Bacon is pro-choice, then maybe they'll realize that they should be pro-choice too."

They also have the guts to post their 990 tax form which includes the high salaries of their president Gloria Feldt ($363,426) and vice-presidents (from $214,200 to $177,028).

STOPP International has more information on last years annual report here

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Granholm and SB 72

Michigan's pro-choice governor, Jennifer Granholm is now being faced with what most people would consider an easy decision but I'm not so sure it's easy for her. Senate Bill 72, has passed the Michigan Senate by a vote of 26-8 and the Michigan House by a vote of 99-0, garnering quite a few pro-choicers along the way.

This pro-life, pro-woman bill would use private donations to "provide grants to encourage certain institutions of higher education to establish and operate a pregnant and parenting student services office for pregnant and parenting students attending the institution." This office would help these young women find the resources in their community that would help them stay and school and care for their child. The program would start as a two-year pilot program on 2 universities and 2 community colleges and then hopefully expand after that.

The bill has faced limited opposition because no one can make a sensible argument against helping pregnant college women who want to keep their child and continue their education. As far as I've seen, only NARAL's Michigan affiliate has attempted to oppose this legislation. Their website doesn't really supply any reason for their opposition except for "The bill prohibits abortion referrals in the campus programs."

It's not like the university can't have a health office that refers for abortion but MARAL is still upset because this new office, designed solely for women who want to keep their child, won't refer for abortion. So much for pro-"choice."

Granholm might be wary of signing this bill because of her support from EMILY's List. The large portion of money that EMILY's list brought in and their 3 before the primary mailings helped Granholm win the Democratic primary and general election in 2002. I don't know if they have a position on this legislation but if they're against it - my guess is that Granholm will be as well.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pro-choice mother vs. prolife daughter

After Abortion is linking to a post at the house of dog about a column in Philadelphia Magazine.

The columnist discusses how her efforts to control her daughter's thinking about the abortion issue have completely failed. Her daughter clearly wins the argument when she asks, "What is the difference, then, between a fetus and a baby?"

Her mother has no answer except, "I'm not sure there is a difference."

The mother later goes on to discuss her own abortion experience. It seems obvious that the mother's position on abortion isn't based in rational thought but on her own experiences with abortion. Its like she's thinking "abortion can't be the killing of a child because I had an abortion and I would never kill a child." It must be extremely hard for women to admit that abortion is wrong when they've had one. My respect for prolife women who have the strength and courage to admit this and ask forgiveness for their abortion is up at least 2 fold after reading this.

It makes you wonder how many or what percentage of pro-choicers (especially active/vocal pro-choicers) have been somehow personally involved with abortion and shows how hard it can be to convince someone who has been involved in taking the life of their own child to admit that what they did was wrong.

Euthanasia on ER

Last night's episode of ER featured a story where Dr. Jing-Mei Chen (played by Ming-Na), euthanizes her father as Dr. Greg Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) looks on. Earlier in the episode, Pratt discovered Chen's plan and attempts to stop her by trying to convince her that what she is planning to do is wrong and that her father should be in a nursing home instead. He seems to be eventually swayed to her side and even offers to euthanize Chen's father.

According to Chen, her father has been asking her to kill him for a while (the audience can't be sure because her father speaks mainly in Chinese to her). The whole reasoning behind Chen's decision to kill her father instead of putting him in a nursing home because she can't take care of him seemed extremely weak. I think she mentioned that she would be abandoning him by putting him in a nursing facility. This is odd as killing someone because you can't take care of them any longer is a final abandonment.

The episode (though I doubt it intended to do this) showed the dangerous power that some doctors think they should possess over life. Instead of healing and helping patients, some doctors believe that killing them is some kind of treatment for pain. After killing her father, Chen is shown and heard calling a hospitable or some other entity to lie about how her father died.

I hope that ER will do more than just leave their audience with the message that "euthanizing people is hard but sometimes necessary and morally ok."

Embryology quote of the week #4

"Although human life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed. ... The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity."

(O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29).

Is the recognition that the life of a human being begins at conception a religious belief or a fact based in science?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Giuliani in '08? Nope.

Hugh Hewitt has a piece in the Weekly Standard where he thinks that Giuliani might be the leading contender for the GOP's Presidential candidate in 2008 based on the response from the National Federation of Republican Women. Josh Clayburn at In the Agora is doubtful because of Giuliani's pro-choice stance. I agree 100%. When it comes election time, we're going to hear a lot more about Giuliani's abortion stance and it's not going to go over well with GOP primary voters.

Having Giuliani run as a pro-choice Republican candidate in '08 would be one of the stupidest things the GOP could do. Talk about abandoning your base.

Also it's too soon to tell. Politicians can rise and fall in 3 years. W's endorsement (if he gives one) will be huge.

Giuliani's received a lot of press during the election but what will he have for the next 2 years unless he runs against Hillary in the Senate in '06? His comments during the election were usually focused on Iraq and the war on terror (good subjects for him) and not the social issues where he is more moderate.

Hugh's hand raising survey method is also somewhat dubious as people who might not otherwise raise their hands do if others around them do.

When is viability again?

I'm a little slow to report this story from the Detroit News about a child born at "barely 22 weeks" in Michigan who will hopefully be going home sometime soon.

Cheyenne Phillips at birth and now

Unborn children who are the same age as Cheyenne was when she was born and older are aborted every single day in our country.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More on Kissling

Both the Village Voice and the Washington Times have articles about Kissling's essay. It's ruffling a few feathers in pro-choice land.

Why? They understand what Kissling doesn't - that the pro-choice movement can't acknowledge the value of the unborn or they lose basically the entire foundation upon which their movement was built and currently relies. If the unborn are valuable, innocent human beings then intentionally killing them is a pretty tough sell to people who have a shred of rationality.

Kissling responds to the Times article here.

In the Village Voice article, Eleanor Smeal from Feminist Majority Foundation says, "I think if an 11-year-old is pregnant, it's a great relief for her to have an abortion. I happen to think it's a moral good to allow people to decide when they give birth."

Hey Eleanor, it might be a greater relief for that 11-year-old (that's elementary school-aged child by the way) not to be raped. But abortion providers often don't report rape when they should.

Kissling's essay is reporting on an essay by Frances Kissling "Catholics" for a Free Choice about the abortion debate.

The essay is available online at the CFFC web site under "What's New". It's long and full of a lot of pro-abortion baloney but read it. It lets you into the mind of someone who's been advocating legal abortion for a long time but seems to dislike the efforts of other pro-abortion organizations and seems to be growing tired of the debate (it's because she's losing and her position makes no logical sense).

Kissling says some very unusual things for a pro-abortion advocate. Ertelt at LifeNews presents the essay as questioning pro-choice tactics but the essay also takes numerous cheap shots at the prolife movement. In usual Kissling fashion, they are mostly unsupported assertions. Ertelt has covered the things the pro-choice movement might take offense to. I will attempt to cover some of the pro-abortion comments that fly in the face of reason and reality

Kissling says, "This obstinate insistence on an absolute legal ban is the major obstacle to what might have been the development of an abortion praxis that combined respect for the fundamental right of women to choose abortion with an ethical discourse that included the exploration of how other values might also be respected, including the value of developing human life."

This is similar to what Anna Quindlen quoted her as saying recently in Newsweek. It makes absolutely no sense unless you believe that the unborn aren't living human beings or don't really believe that their lives have value. Could I say, "We need to come to a compromise where we combine the respect for a woman's right to kill her toddler yet explore how other values might be respected including the value of the toddler's developing human life."

Note to Frances: How can we as a society value developing human life if we allow the legally killing of these lives?

Later on, "This brings us to the second value of a good society: respect for life, including fetal life. Why should we allow this value to be owned by those opposed to abortion? Are we not capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time; of valuing life and respecting women’s rights? Have we not ceded too much territory to antiabortionists by not articulating the value of fetal life?"

Is she that dense? She's spent probably that last 30 or so years of her life doing everything she can to devalue the lives of unborn children yet now she's asking why pro-choicers haven't articulated the value of fetal life.

Quick answer for Frances: The main crux of the pro-choice position is that fetal life doesn't have value (or at least enough to merit legal protection) and that is why women should be allowed to have abortions (end the lives of their unborn children). Once pro-choicers start admitting that the unborn are living human beings and their lives have value it becomes exponentially harder for them to defend the taking of these lives.

More: "Is there not a way to simply say, “Yes, it is sad, unfortunate, tragic (or whatever word you are comfortable with) that this life could not come to fruition. It is sad that we live in a world where there is so little social and economic support for families that many women have no choice but to end pregnancies." (my emphasis)

"No choice?" Huh? Isn't your organization called Catholics for a "Free Choice?" So maybe the decision to have an abortion isn't really then a "free choice" but something women feel forced into because they feel they have no place else to turn.

When discussing the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2004 Kissling says, "The bill includes a mandated script that doctors must read to women seeking abortions and specific written consent forms they must sign. The wording of the script doctors are required to use is cruel. It is not completely accurate, is highly judgmental and completely negates the basic principles of good patient care, in which a health professional needs the freedom to decide how best to convey important information to patients."

Read the text of the bill yourself. It's accurate and honest. Kissling may not like the term "unborn child" but just because women may not like the fact that they are deciding to end the life of a child that maybe able to feel pain doesn't mean that the legislation is innaccurate or cruel. The act of killing a pain-experiencing unborn child without giving that child pain-medication is what is truly cruel.

She continues, "To the extent possible, abortion should be a humane and compassionate procedure and although it involves the termination of fetal life, we approach that termination with respect and compassion. Thus, we would recommend that those who provide abortion provide the option of fetal anesthesia."

"To every extent possible toddler termination should be a compassionate procedure and although it involves the termination (why not say killing?) of toddler life, we approach that termination (again, why not killing?) with respect and compassion. Thus, we would recommend that those who provide toddler termination provide the option of toddler anesthesia."

The logic is a little off, wouldn't you agree? Or maybe it's her moral compass?

There are numerous other assertions I take offense to but this post is already too long.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Parties," Pyramid Scams, and Peer Pressure

The phenomenon of pyramid scam parties has swept through our country's female population. Be it tastefully simple parties, tupperware parties, jewelry parties, spa parties, etc., etc. probably millions of women every year are invited and/or invite co-workers, friends and family to "parties."

The more women who attend and buy, the bigger take/discount the inviter gets from the presenter(who usually knows the inviter (and has pressured her to have the party). The presenter will also pressure invitees (who the presenter probably doesn't know) to throw their own parties with her as the presenter.

But the twist for the inviter is that if any of the invitees throw their own party, the inviter becomes the invitee. The former inviter "must" attend her former invitees "parties" because they attended hers. And a lack of attendance at a former attendee's party (without a real reason) could be troubling for the relationship. So if a inviter invites 15 friends to a "party" and 10 of them come and buy (because if you come, you "have" to buy) but then later on 7 of these attendees throw their own "party" then the former inviter is now "forced" to attend 7 "parties"(some of which might be for products she has no real use for) and buy at least 1, probably 2 things at these "parties." Her take/discount from her party is more than erased by the products she "must" purchase at the "parties" of former attendees.

Who ever thought of this marketing scam is a genius. Using "parties," peer pressure and the illusion that "You have to buy something" to sell overpriced stuff (some of which is useful - some is not) works much better than million dollar ad campaigns. We all know most women love gathering together to go out and shop be it to the mall, flea markets, garage sales. Some look for deals, others want top of the line stuff but they're never really "forced" to buy at the GAP or Old Navy. But now they are in essence buying from friends - not unknown shopkeppers or salespeople and there is an unspoken correlation between the # of items bought and the strength of the friendship. And everyone else knows that they "have" to buy something so you can't be the only one.

A few of the items my lovely and financial responsible wife has been "forced" into buying include a metal cube for a necklace (it didn't include the strap that goes around a neck but was simply a metal cube with a hole in it) for $25, a bottle of lotion for something like $15, and a marinade for something like $8.

Can you imagine a scheme like this trying to work on guys? 10 guys standing in one of their buddy's living rooms looking at overpriced tools, steaks, beer or TVs while another male tries to persuade them to buy or throw their own "party." Not happening. I'm not buying overpriced stuff I don't really need from anyone, including my best friend and he knows it.

Monday, December 06, 2004

New kind of embryonic stem cells

The Washington Post (you might need to register) is reporting on 2 new options of obtaining embryonic stem cells that were recently presented to the President's Council on Bioethics.

Option 1: Embryos from IVF treatment that have stopped growing and are "functionally dead."

Option 2: Using a technique similar to somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) to create a bundle of cells that supposedly isn't an embryo but still has embryonic stem cells.

In the first technique, two Columbia University researchers "argued that a certain percentage of embryos created, frozen and later thawed for potential use in assisted-reproduction procedures are similar to brain-dead adults. The embryos no longer have the capacity for human life.

Cells have stopped dividing in those embryos, which in some cases account for about 60 percent of ones made in infertility treatments."

It seems that they aren't talking about the 400,000 supposedly "leftover" embryos but embryos that are planning on being implanted into a womb in the near future but were found to be untransplantable. Are there really that many of these "dead" embryos out there? Are we sure that they are "dead?" How many stem cell lines could we create?

In the second technique, from William Hurlbut, a member of the panel, "called his idea "altered nuclear transfer" -- a cloning procedure with one crucial alteration. One or more genes essential for normal embryonic development would be temporarily canceled or inactivated at the start. The cluster of growing and dividing cells that would be produced would have no capacity ever to develop into a human fetus. Consequently, it would not have the status of a person by anyone's definition, he argued."

I haven't heard the whole proposition but right now to me this simply sounds like creating some kind of defective cloned human embryo. The lack of capacity to develop into a human fetus doesn't mean that the creation isn't a human embryo. Will we be able to tell if this is really a non-human being that merely has human being parts or will it be something that we're always wondering about?

Though these new techniques might not necessitate the intentional killing of human beings (it's tough to tell from Post article) I'd still be skeptical.

1.) Even if they can get embryonic stem cells without killing embryos, I still don't think embryonic stem cells are the way to go. Wouldn't the cells still be prone to forming tumors and being rejected by the patient like the embryonic stem cells we have now?

2.) Practically speaking, will this kind of research ever be affordable to the average Joe with diabetes or Parkinson's? It just seems that this kind of stem cell research treatment will be just as unaffordable and difficult as any type of treatment from cloning.

3.) In terms of federal funding, if these techniques worked they would be new embryonic stem cell lines and not eligible for federal funding. So Bush would either need to reformulate his August 2001 policy or create some kind of loophole.

4.) Isn't this money better spent on research with adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cords? We already know that we can help people with this cells. Why not focus our attention and money there? The idea of exploring all areas of research can be very persuasive (especially if all areas are ethical) but it just seems that exploring all areas of research takes funds away from areas that have and are working.

The full text of the meeting is available online here. It's the transcript for Dec. 3. It's an interesting, though long, read if you get the chance.

After reading what Hurlbut is proposing and his answers to questions - it's fairly clear that this is currently an idea in the works (it may not even work with humans) and that he wants to make sure that an embryo isn't created in this processes. The language in the Post column that I quoted is not really the type of language that Hurlbut used in his presentation.

Hurlbut says of his proposal, "The crucial principle of any technological variation of altered nuclear transfer, however, must be the pre-emptive nature of the intervention. This process does not involve the creation of an embryo that is then altered to transform it into a non-embryonic entity. Rather the proposed genetic alteration is accomplished ab initio, the entity is brought into existence with a genetic structure insufficient to generate a human embryo."

Later on in the questioning he says, "I, as everybody in this council knows, have stood very strongly for the principle that human life is present from conception. When I looked at the scientific facts and I didn't come in like some rubber stamp agent of this counsel to do what somebody told me to do, I looked as plainly as I could and I simply could not think -- could not agree that the early embryo was, as some scientists are saying, an inchoate clump of cells. It's a living whole human being."

He wants to make sure embryos aren't being created.

His proposal is basically to take a gene out of a cell before putting that cell into an egg and zapping it. The lack of this gene basically then creates something similar to a hydatiform mole or teratoma that might still have stem cells.

It's interesting to see those on the Council use science to get around moral problems caused by the previous advancement of science (without moral safeguards) but I still can't see this as being practical medicine in the long or short run.

The text to Bush's August 9, 2001, decision says "we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Embryology quote of the week #3

"Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zygtos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being."

[Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

If you're an infant and Dutch, you're not much

Hugh Hewitt and Mark Roberts and John Mark Reynolds are commenting on this story from the AP about how a hospital in the Netherlands has been euthanizing terminally ill newborns even though the proposed law to legalize this horrendous practice has yet to pass.

What will our media say? Will they pass this off as nothing? Will they continue to ignore how the Netherlands have continually changed their laws to allow doctors to kill instead of heal?

Why haven't government prosecutors in the Netherlands done anything? Has their lack of respect for life slipped so far that breaking the law and killing infants is no big deal?