Monday, March 02, 2009

Life Links 3/2/09

Researchers have now created induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by "using strands of genetic material, instead of potentially dangerous genetically engineered viruses, to coax skin cells into a state that appears biologically identical to embryonic stem cells."
In addition to the scientific implications, the work comes at a politically sensitive moment. Scientists are anxiously waiting for President Obama to follow through on his promise to lift restrictions on federal funding for research on human embryonic stem cells. Critics of such a move immediately pointed to the work as the latest evidence that the alternative cells make such research unnecessary.

"Stem cell research that requires destroying embryos is going the way of the Model T," Richard M. Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said. "No administration that values science and medical progress over politics will want to divert funds now toward that increasingly obsolete and needlessly divisive approach."
Also worth noting:
The researchers did their initial work on skin cells from embryos but say the approach should work just as efficiently in adult cells, and they plan to start those experiments.

"We do not expect that adult cells would behave significantly differently than the ones we are using currently," Nagy said.

The Hill notes the reasons for prolife opposition to Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's pick to direct the Department of Health and Human Services.
Sebelius vetoed a late-term aborition law in 2008, and in 2007 she held a reception at the Kansas governor's mansion that included Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita doctor whose clinic provided late-term abortions. Tiller was under investigation for violating that state's restrictions on some forms of abortion.

The reception, which Sebelius office said Tiller won at an auction, has nonetheless ignited a furor among anti-abortion rights groups and activists.

Scott McClare attended a debate on the morality of abortion at Ottawa University.
I was impressed at the even match of the two opponents. Too often, the pro-choice debater has come to the debate armed only with political rhetoric and anecdote, and the debate seems lopsided. Dr. Sneddon, on the other hand, had a well-prepared moral argument for his position that he was ready to defend - although I did not find it convincing, for reasons that I will get into later. And as professional philosophers are wont to do, he was sometimes a little more circumspect about his arguments than the situation would have demanded. In the end, I feel Stephanie won the debate by about half a length, primarily because of her greater focus, clarity, and conciseness, as well as her better preparedness to answer questions.

As much as I enjoy seeing people like Jojo, Stephanie, or Scott Klusendorf give some Planned Parenthood spokeswoman a sound drubbing, it was nice to see a more level playing field, and hence a good fair fight, last night.

The editors of the Austin Statesman (a Texas newspaper) had this to say about a bill in the Texas legislature which would require abortion providers to turn the ultrasound screen towards women considering an abortion, describe what the ultrasound shows and make the heartbeat of the unborn child audible.
The bill is popular with the anti-abortion activists because the required reading and images puts them right there in the clinic, shaking their collective fingers at the woman. It is an incredibly invasive requirement forced on women, many already traumatized by an unexpected pregnancy and the decision to have an abortion.
Looking at where their unborn child is (if they want) and hearing the heartbeat is incredibly invasive?

If abortion isn't killing a human being then why is showing an ultrasound and describing it supposedly so invasive and traumatizing?

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