Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spinmeister Art Caplan

Bioethicist Art Caplan has a new column out about the whole Michael J. Fox/Rush Limbaugh/embryonic stem cell controversy.

The column contains a number of obvious mistakes that are usually standard in the columns of newspapers writers who are largely uninformed about stem cell research and shouldn't be found in the column of someone who is supposedly an expert on this issue. For example, Caplan writes:
A constitutional amendment on the Missouri ballot would legalize embryonic stem cell research.
Hmmm.... since when did Missouri ban embryonic stem cell research? Caplan is well aware that embryonic stem cell research is already legal in Missouri and he knows that this amendment does much more than simply legalizing embryonic stem cell research. Caplan also references this despicable and dishonest commercial and labels it as "tough."

More bad "facts" from Caplan:
Just a few months ago a Republican Congress came very close to overriding the only veto that President Bush ever made — to block public funding of embryonic stem cell research. How did it happen that Congress, which was strongly opposed to such funding back in 2002, and being lobbied hard by the influential pro-life lobby, shifted with a majority supporting public funding in both the House and the Senate by 2006?
Congress strongly opposed public funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2002? What vote was that Art?

According to National Right to Life's 2002 scorecard there was no vote about the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. There was, however, a vote on legislation to ban human cloning. Is that the vote you're talking about Art? Aren't those quite different things?

He uses this phony apples-and-oranges comparison to attempt to argue that Congress was strongly influenced by the lobbying efforts of disease advocacy organizations. I'm sure those disease advocacy organizations had some impact on some legislators in Congress but not the impact Caplan is delusionally imagining.
For the first time ever, these groups pulled together and made their lobbying presence felt to the point where a Republican Congress came close to abandoning a president from their own party.
I'm not sure about Caplan but I don't see Republicans voting 180 to 50 (in the original legislation) and 179 to 51 (in the attempt to override Bush's veto - 51 votes short of overriding the veto) against the legislation to increase the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as coming close to "abandoning a president from their own party."

Caplan's article almost seems like an attempt to convince himself that large portions of voters are going to cast their vote based on the issue of funding embryonic stem cell research. Maybe he should read this poll (question #5) from Newsweek which finds that only 3% of those polled (1% of Republicans, 4% of Democrats and 6% of independents) think the stem cell issue is the most important issue to them. To 4% of those polled, abortion was the most important issue. Both of these issues are dwarfed by the situation in Iraq (29%), the economy (21%), healthcare(14%), terrorism(14%), and immigration(11%).

Life Links 10/31/06

James Kelly on Michael J. Fox's advocacy for embryonic stem cells and some of the problems with embryonic stem cells.

British scientists have grown a miniature liver from umbilical cord blood stem cells. Looking through Google's news story, no American media outlets have picked up this story, as of yet. Surprise, surprise.

Abortionist and activist Jane Hodgson has died.

Pumpkin carving this Halloween

My pumpkin this year

I don't think it was as good as last year's.

The Big House

That's where my wife and I were on Saturday freezing our tails off. We stayed the whole game while half of the students never showed up or left at halftime. The picture is of the touchdown celebration after a Mike Hart run.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Life Links 10/27/06

Long article in USA Today about partial-birth abortion.

Richard Stith in First Things discussing why some pro-choicers view prolife arguments as absurd.

A man with multiple sclerosis is confident a transplant of stem cells from umbilical cord blood he received in Mexico have helped.

More language smithing from Michael J. Fox and company

Some excerpts from the Michael J. Fox interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos regarding embryonic stem cell research and my thoughts below.
Stephanopoulos: In the ad now running in Missouri, Jim Caviezel speaks in Aramaic. It means, "You betray me with a kiss." And his position, his point, is that actually even though down in Missouri they say the initiative is against cloning, it's actually going to allow human cloning.

Fox: Well, I don't think that's true. You know, I campaigned for Claire McCaskill. And so I have to qualify it by saying I'm not qualified to speak on the page-to-page content of the initiative. Although, I am quite sure that I'll agree with it in spirit, I don't know, I— On full disclosure, I haven't read it, and that's why I didn't put myself up for it distinctly.

I think this shows how little Fox actually knows about what's going on. He made his bed with these pro-embryonic stem cell groups and organizations a long time ago and I'm guessing they are the ones who provide him with all the information he gets on this issue. How can you say you support something in spirit without even reading it? Only if you trust the people and the groups behind it unconditionally.
In fact, they just did some work where they found that it actually relieved the symptoms of Parkinson's in one test, but there some residue, some tissue residue that built up, which is not ideal.
"Some tissue residue?" Is that what proponents of embryonic stem cell research are calling "multiple tumors" nowadays? Also no mention of what kind of animals these experiments were performed on. I'm guessing some people who aren't up on this issue would think Fox is describing research on human beings and not research on rats.
Stephanopoulos: What's the best evidence that you've seen recently of the promise of stem cell research?

Fox: Well, like I said, the fact that they can, that they can halt the symptoms of Parkinson's relative to us, again, with, you know, again, with, with flaws and with things that don't make it translatable at this point.
Again, no mention that Fox is probably talking about experiments on rats. Or if he's talking about humans, he's not mentioning that it was adult stem cell research which halted the symptoms.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Life Links 10/26/06

Arguments were heard today in front of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for the Legal Birth Definition Act. The LBDA was a law designed to ban partial-birth abortion in Michigan by defining when legal birth occurs. The article has an absolutely ridiculous quote from an ACLU lawyer.

UPDATE: The ACLU has a press release about this hearing including the claim from attorney Brigitte Amiri saying the LBDA would stop doctors from treating miscarriages. Has she even read the legislation? The law specifically makes physician's immune if the child is being expelled by a spontaneous abortion (aka miscarriage).

Laura Ingraham takes on Missouri's Amendment 2 on the Today show (starting at about 4 minutes in).

There's some trouble between Northern Kentucky Right to Life and a Catholic diocese in the northern part of Kentucky. The article doesn't elaborate on what Northern Kentucky did.

Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures still plagiarizing

Here's the site. They've recently put their question and answer section back online after nearly of month of "technical" problems. This was the section whose plagiarism was formerly the most egregious. They haven't really changed a ton but at least this time they cite sources for a good portion of the information taken word for word from other groups. A lot of times they forget to cite anything, though.

For example, the whole Q and A on blastocysts contains no cited sources yet it seems fairly obvious to me that the majority of this information was taken from this page from the Kansas University Medical Center. The Q and A on somatic cell nuclear transfer (aka cloning) also has some "similarities" to the KUMC web page linked to above yet no citations from the MCSCRC.

Whoever was adding citations forgot to add one for question 4 of the cell therapy page - it, like the rest of the answers on the page is taken word for word from the FAQ web page of the Stem Cell Research Foundation. They also forgot to cite the SCRF on question 3 of the adult stem cell page, question 5 of the embryonic stem cell question page and question 3 of the research page. I guess when you're busy copying and pasting the writings of multiple sources it can be confusing which stuff you took and where you took it from.

These people are supposed to educate the people of Michigan on stem cell research yet it takes them a month to add citations to their web page and change or delete a few sentences and paragraphs here and there after they got caught plagiarizing and then after a month they still haven't completely cited their sources. This group is pathetic.

Did I mention their advisory board includes big name politicians like Governor Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, soon-to-be-former Congressman Joe Schwarz and state representative Andy Meisner?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Jim Talent killed Superman"

Here's a parody of Claire McCaskill's ads on stem cell research via the Political Pit Bull.

Tax-funded abortions with no real restrictions - yeah, it's tough to get an abortion in California

In a state like California, where there's no parental consent, 59% of counties have an abortion provider, abortion providers don't need to report the number of abortion they perform (probably somewhere around 250,000 a year) and tax dollars are used to pay for abortions, you'd think it be tough to make a case that getting an abortion in California is difficult with a straight face. But Tali Woodward with the San Francisco Bay Guardian is up to the task. The article also highlights the delusional thinking of some abortion proponents who house women coming to the Bay area for abortions. They actually compare themselves to the Underground Railroad.

The second to last sentence regarding a proposal to have a parental consent law passed in California is classic: "It would join the long list of obstacles that women face when they decide to end their pregnancies."

The long list being:
Paying for the abortion, that is, if California won't pay for it
Finding an abortion provider
Finding transportation to the abortion provider

It's almost like in a fantasy world for these abortion advocates (who'd also probably claim they want abortion to be rare) there would be at least one abortion provider for every 20 square miles and California would pay for every abortion and help transport women to the doors of abortion providers.

Life Links 10/25/06

Dan Morgan: An Abortion Thought Experiment HT: Joe Carter

Sean Hannity talked to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America about the Michael J. Fox ad and Rush Limbaugh's response to the ad.

Adult stem cells helped save a woman's leg in India.

What now Michael J. Fox?

People against human cloning for research also have celebrities on their side. Watch Jim Caviezel, Kurt Warner, Patricia Heaton, Jeff Suppan (he'll be pitching for the Cardinals tonight against the Tigers) and Mike Sweeney (he plays for the Kansas City Royals) smack down Missouri's cloning initiative.

UPDATE: According to Kathryn Jean Lopez, this commercial will air during Game 4 of the World Series tonight in Missouri. A commercial featuring Jeff Suppan ripping on Amendment Two will air on the night he's pitching and every Cardinal fan in Missouri will be watching. Ouch!! Did I mention Suppan was the National League Championship Series MVP? Double ouch!! I'm guessing the Stowers and their $28 million aren't going to be happy about that.

I'm still rooting for the Tigers but it will be tough to root against Suppan.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some questions for Jennifer Granholm regarding abortion

As part of your plan to keep your job as Michigan's governor, you've got a new TV commercial out which claims,
"Jennifer Granholm personally oppose abortion, but she believes that this deeply personal and private decision should be made by a woman and her doctor, and not by politicians."
What does saying you "personally oppose abortion" mean?

Why do you "personally oppose abortion?"

Is there something wrong with abortion?

Why is the "ideal" number of abortions "zero?"

Is it because abortion intentionally ends the life of an innocent human being?

That means you think it should be legal to intentionally kill innocent human beings, right?

Or is there some other reason to personally oppose abortion?

When you say "that this deeply personal and private decision should be made by a woman and her doctor," aren't you forgetting someone?

Your ad also claims Dick DeVos' position on abortion is "extreme." Do you think the numerous individuals and politicians from your party - two of the six Democratic House members from Michigan, numerous state senators and state house members, longtime Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley (who you called "my friend" during your state of the state address) and Scott Bowen (who was your choice for the Democratic Attorney General nomination this year) - who have the same position as Dick DeVos are "extreme?"

Did you write a letter to the Knights of Columbus in 1999 and claim you supported life ‘from the moment of conception to the natural end of life?'

If you are personally opposed to abortion, why did you go to a "luncheon gala" for EMILY's List, arguably the most pro-abortion group in the country?

If you're personally opposed to abortion, have you ever donated time or money to your local pregnancy center?

Why do you continue to lie about whether the ban on partial-birth abortion ban you vetoed had life of the mother and health of the mother exceptions?

How do you sleep at night?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Embryonic stem cells cause tumors - what? Don't tell the media.

Why hasn't this story about embryonic stem cells causing tumors in rats with a syndrome similar to Parkinson's disease received more American media attention? As of this posting the Washington Post, ABC News, the Arizona Daily Star, and the Canton Repository were the only American papers covering this story according to a search of Google news. What would the coverage be like if the stem cells hadn't formed tumors?
The new cells integrated into the animals' brains and produced copious amounts of dopamine. As a result, the animals' motor coordination improved almost to the point of being normal, according to the report in yesterday's online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

But when the animals were autopsied after three months and their brains were examined microscopically, the team found multiple tumors, indicating that some of the injected cells did not settle into the job of being neurons but rather had begun to grow uncontrollably.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Writers (who need a lesson in embryology) for abortion

Ramesh Ponnuru highlights an absurd assertion from Jonathon Chon. Chon writes,
Science can prove a lot of things about the process of human reproduction, like what happens when a sperm and egg meet, how the newly formed zygote behaves after that point, when it implants in a woman's uterus, and so on. But the one thing science cannot "prove" is at which point in this process life actually begins--because, by definition, that is a subjective judgment based as much on moral and religious beliefs as on observable scientific facts.

Chon ends his article by saying, "And they (the doctors) are entitled to their opinion. But they should be clear that it's just that--an opinion--rather than objective scientific fact."

So let's get this straight, science can prove a "lot of things" but the definition of when the biological life of a human organism begins is an "opinion" and a "subjective judgement" based on "moral and religious beliefs?"

Sorry Jonathon. The question of when the biological life of an organism begins needs to be answered by biology not morality. Morality, religion and philosophy can help us answer whether this organism has value but they can't tell us whether it is a living organism or not.

Second, if we don't really know when life begins (since it's a "subjective" "opinion") then how do I know that a newborn or toddler or adolescent or a New Republic writer is alive?

If someone asserted that Jonathon Chon killed a living human being by putting a piece of paper through the shredder, how do you think he would respond? Would he say, "That's just your subjective judgement. My subjective judgement holds that a piece of paper isn't a living human being."? Probably not, right? Instead, if he was forced to take the accusation seriously, he would probably use biological facts to show that 1.) paper isn't human and 2.) paper isn't alive.

Why didn't he do that here? That's right. He couldn't.

Why didn't he cite standard embryology textbooks asserting that when an individual human life beings is a subjective religious belief? That's right. He couldn't.

Some pro-choicers have a difficult time dealing with the inconvenient facts of science and instead of recognizing the reality that the unborn are living human beings and then arguing from there, they instead hide behind this diminutive curtain of relativism where biological facts are treated as mere opinion.

Friday Cat Blogging

Inanimate objects and plants beware. Dangerous cat on the prowl.

The newest outcry against pictures of aborted children?

According to one college feminist group in Canada showing pictures of aborted children on campus is:

Sexual harassment.

HT: Big Blue Wave

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Charges against the woman who shot herself to kill her unborn child have been dismissed

ABC News has a long story on Tammy Skinner, her situation, and the legalities surrounding this case.

As always, abortion advocates have a way of using any situation to call for increased "access" to abortion. A woman shoots herself on the day she's supposed to give birth and you want to know what Lynn Paltrow (an abortion advocate) thinks the solution is? That's right - tax-funded abortions.
"When Medicaid does not fund abortion. … It is totally inappropriate to turn to the criminal justice system to respond to these problems"

Instead of asking "What crime did she commit?," Paltrow thinks we should be asking, "Why didn't she have access to abortion services?"

How about questions like:
Did Skinner ever consider adoption?
Was she aware of Safe Haven laws?
How did she find out she was pregnant - what services were offered to her at that time?
How fallen is our society that a mother shoots herself with the desire to kill her child on the day the child is due to be born?
How messed up are some people in our society that they think the solution to this problem would be spending tax dollars on abortion? (It's like Paltrow is thinking - "If only we could have killed that child earlier.")
How can anyone think shooting herself is the answer to a crisis pregnancy?
Is killing the child the solution to any crisis pregnancy?
Did Skinner see her child as human being? And if so, why did she shoot this child and not one of her two born children?
What would Skinner have been charged with if she shot her child right after the child was born?
Would Skinner have been charged if she shot a partially-born child?
How can the advocates of legal abortion who put a woman's right to do whatever she wants to her body be against a woman shooting herself on her due date? It's her body, right? Shouldn't she be able to end her pregnancy in any manner?

Life Links 10/19/06

2Tricky is a new site designed to help voters in Missouri understand how tricky the pro-cloning Amendment 2 is.

I'm with Rebecca. This garbage from Majority Action makes me sick. I guess only doctors and scientists can decide if "stem cell research" (read that embryonic stem cell research) should receive increased federal funding and that somehow this increased federal funding of embryonic stem cell research will decide which individuals with spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's and juvenile diabetes will live or die.

Denis Boyles on how Kansas would be out of the mainstream on abortion and embryonic stem cell research if it was in Europe. And not in the way you might suppose.

In related news, Taiwan's cabinet has proposed some new regulations on abortions including a 3-day waiting period and spousal notification. Those crazy Christian conservatives!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Silently protesting abortion

The Students Day of Silent Solidarity is a day (October 24 this year) where prolife students from across the country will silently protest abortion by not speaking during the school day. Students can also wear a red arm band or red duct tape on their mouths during the protest. When students are asked why they are silent the pass out a card which explains why they are being silent.

High school and elementary school students from Livingston County in Michigan are planning on participating in this event according to the Livingston Press and Argus. The article also mentions the blog of local school board member named Wendy Day who supports the protest.

She refused to get an abortion, he strangled her to death, he'll spend the rest of his life in jail

Stephen Poaches was convicted yesterday of killing both his girlfriend, LaToyia Figueroa, and their unborn child.

Are prolifers just naive people who don't understand the real world?

Serge helps out with this fairly common pro-choice characterization.
"Considering everything that we have witnessed, I hope I can be forgiven for my offense. My experience has not taught me that life is simple, but has shown me that human beings have tremendous capacity for evil. My experience has not taught me that "being realistic" means we jettison the notion that human beings are intrinsically valuable, but has taught me the consequences when we deny our intrinsic value."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Life Links 10/17/06

Adult stem cells are helping patients with heart ailments in India.

Human stem cells "did not succumb to ALS" when injected into rats and slightly prolonged the lives of the rats with ALS.

An Illinois abortion provider has been evicted from the building he worked in after disappearing several weeks ago. The owner of the building used to perform abortions there and is now putting the building up for sale.

Monday, October 16, 2006

North Korea - certainly not prolife

These stories of what is done to pregnant women and their children (born and unborn) are simply horrific.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"No path at all"

MIT professor and stem cell researcher James Sherley wrote an article today for Australia's Daily Telegraph on stem cell research. Here's bit of what he had to say:
The idea research on human embryos will yield an amazing medicine chest of new cures for debilitating diseases of children and adults is a myth. Nothing could be further from the truth.....

Some scientists have not revealed the problems that prevent them being used to treat diseases. For example, in terms of fundamental biology, embryonic stem cells are not able to be used to treat adult tissue.

One major barrier to using embryonic stem cells in therapy is tumours could form when they were put into adult tissue....

Despite misinformation to the contrary, adult stem cell research is a viable path to new therapies.

Even calling them an "alternative" to embryonic stem cells misinforms the public. Why? Because embryonic stem cells provide no path at all.

Friday Niece Blogging

Fall is here and my niece is ready with her styling jean jacket.

Life Links 10/13/06

The New York Daily News posts some of Lennart Nilsson photographs of unborn human beings. Article author Julian Kesner notes, "While such images won't quell the abortion debate anytime soon, their beauty alone deserves pause and admiration."

HT: Prolife Blogs

An article discussing possible fetal surgeries of the future using stem cells.

Dick DeVos, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, told a Catholic radio host yesterday, "You're not going to find a more pro-life governor in Michigan's history than me."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"I don't know why I want to have this baby!.....But I FEEL it is right!"

A young woman named Katie is pregnant and seems to be leaning towards/has decided to keep the child. The child's father seems to have other plans.

He still wants me to get an abortion (which I have no moral problem with- I just don't feel it's right in this case) and he wants me to schedule an appointment just-in-case. But I have a problem with that....

And he started talking again about how he's going to have to completely drop out of school and get 20 jobs working at McDonald's and at a gas station and dut-dah-duh, and how he's going to have no friends anymore. That over-dramatic nonsense.

Life Links 10/12/06

The Middleton Guardian has an article on a UK woman who will be heading to Holland to receive a stem cell treatment for her multiple sclerosis.

The Alabama abortion clinic which closed after they tried to abort a nearly full-term child using RU-486 has filed for bankruptcy.

The Daily Kent Stater editorial board has an editorial against the Center for Bio-ethical Reform showing pictures of aborted children on Kent State's campus with buses and planes. I don't know if I've ever seen so many strawmen in an editorial before. I'm not the biggest fan of putting the photos of aborted children on buses and planes but most of the arguments this editorial board makes against them are beyond silly. Yeah, CBR's goals are just to influence people for this election - that's why they do displays like this year round in non-election years. Also notice the editorial board's ridiculous view of freedom of speech. I still am always amazed at how people think the pictures of children killed by abortion are "obscene" yet don't think abortion is obscene.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Debate Lies on Cloning from Governor Jennifer Granholm

Last night, I switched back and forth between Michigan's second gubernatorial debate and the Detroit Tigers' win (yeah!) over the Oakland Athletics. You can listen and/or watch the debate at WOOD TV's website.

Towards the end of the debate, Granholm laid down a major league whopper regarding her position on human cloning. After discussing her position on embryonic stem cell research, Granholm said something like, "I think it is important if you don't clone embryos for the purpose of doing the research but it's limited to those embryos that would be discarded. That's important to allow that life-sustaining, prolife research to go on."

I was completely surprised by that statement because as readers of this blog know, Governor Granholm has been a huge supporter of H.B. 4900. H.B. 4900 would legalize human cloning in Michigan. Granholm's been using the state of Michigan web site to push this legislation for months. She spoke approvingly about this legislation in her State of the State address and even promoted it on a weekly radio address just last week.

Why does Granholm feel the need to be say researchers should be limited to "those embryos that would be discarded" and then work hard to pass legislation which would allow researchers to try to clone and kill human embryos?

Governor Granholm also lied during the second debate (just like she did during the first debate) about her veto of the Michigan's Legal Birth Definition Act, a law which attempted to stop partial-birth abortion in Michigan. She claimed she'd be in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion and would sign it as long as the ban had exceptions for the life and health of the mother and that the Michigan's ban didn't have these.

Unfortunately, for Granholm the truth is certainly not on her side. You can read the legislation online here. If you do, you'll notice this section which describes how doctors would be "immune from criminal, civil, or administrative liability" if (my emphasis)
"in that physician's reasonable medical judgment and in compliance with the applicable standard of practice and care, the procedure was necessary in either of the following circumstances:

(i) To save the life of the mother and every reasonable effort was made to preserve the life of both the mother and the perinate.

(ii) To avert an imminent threat to the physical health of the mother, and any harm to the perinate was incidental to treating the mother and not a known or intended result of the procedure performed.

Granholm is lucky Michigan's media outlets are either clueless, lazy or so biased they don't take the time to check if Granholm's claims are true or not.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research web site back up

Finally . All it took was about 2 weeks to solve those plagiarism problems.

As you might have guessed the web site which was supposedly experiencing technical difficulties has text which is quite different than the original plagiarized web site. Gone is the "frequently asked questions" section which had a number of different web pages filled with information taken word for word from other web sites. According to the web site, the "frequently asked questions" section "is currently being updated and will be available soon." Updating information on a web site takes more than two weeks?

Also notice the hilarious claim that the "MCSCRC does not and cannot express support for any piece of legislation or political petition related to stem cell research." On the side bar they link to a news article describing the group's press conference ("Coalition pushes state to ease stem cell limits") and it's fairly obvious what their opinion is on Michigan's legislation.

They also describe Michigan's law by saying Michigan "runs the risk of falling behind these other states. One way Michigan can attract and create new jobs is to promote research in stem cells and other life sciences."

Basically, without their plagiarized information, this web site currently has little to offer someone looking to be educated about stem cell research, the different kinds of stem cells, where stem cells come from, etc.

I may have spoken too soon. It looks as though they still might have some random information on their current law page (scroll all the way down) which appears might have been taken from this speech by David Paterson.

Under the "The Economic Aspect of Stem Cell Research for New York State," Paterson discusses how stem cell research might help the state of New York (not Michigan) financially. He says, "Comptroller Hevesi has estimated that new investment in life sciences in New York State could result in 7,000 new jobs directly related to the biotech industry and 15,000 total new jobs. This would produce an estimated $307 million more in state government revenue."

The bottom of the MCSCRC's stem cell page says, "Estimates show that new investments in life sciences with a single state could result in 7,000 new jobs directly related to the biotech industry and 15,000 total new jobs. This would produce an estimated $307 million more in state revenue."

At least this time they listed the following disclaimer above the long list of information on the side: "The following list indicates the adult and embryonic initiatives going on around the country, according to Scientific American, the Houston Chronicle and other sources."

"I always thought that I would chose life if the situation ever arose"

A young woman named Jen has an abortion appointment (language warning) scheduled for tomorrow in order to receive an RU-486 abortion.

If you choose to comment, please show Jen love and kindness.

World Views Collide (Part II)

On Friday, I wrote about the first forum of Thomas Cooley Law School's World View's Collide event regarding stem cell research. Today, I want to share about the second forum on assisted suicide. I should also mention that on the way to the event I walked past a small anti-war/anti-Bush protest and learned that "9/11 was an inside job."

Anyway, the speakers in favor of assisted suicide being legal were Eli Stutsman (who was/is involved with Oregon's assisted suicide law) and George Felos (Michael Schiavo's former lawyer) while the speakers against assisted suicide being legal were Nikolas Nikas (from the Bioethics Defense Fund) and Wesley Smith. I left early so I unfortunately missed out on the rebuttals and Q and A with the audience. Below are summaries of the four presentations.

Eli Stutsman went first and basically outlined Oregon's assisted suicide law, a little of the history behind it and the efforts to overturn it. I thought it was somewhat odd and dry because he didn't make an argument in favor of why assisted suicide should be legal but basically provided a time line on Oregon's assisted suicide law. He also used a projector and when his transparencies projected on to the screen behind him they were extremely difficult to read. I don't know if they requested him to make a presentation like he did but it just didn't seem to fit.

Nikolas Nikas discussed his work to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in Arizona and some of the dangers of assisted suicide. He mentioned how many people equate not receiving life-continuing treatment (like being resuscitated and put on a respirator) with assisted suicide and that how many people favor assisted suicide tends to drop the more specific you are when describing it.

George Felos' presentation was probably one of the weirdest and most uncomfortable speeches I've seen from someone who is being paid to speak in favor of assisted suicide. He started out with some random "kids say the darndest things"-type jokes and then meandered to random situations where assisted suicide might be morally right (like in a John Wayne movie where John Wayne gave a gun to guy who was about to be attacked by wolves). He talked about polls regarding assisted suicide and threw out random numbers like 65% of people are in favor of assisted suicide but never cited which polls said this. His voice would often rise and fall in various places as well. I don't know if that's some courtroom lawyer trick but I thought it was weird. He then kind of went into something that seemed almost like a prolife speech as he talked about how 47% of doctors don't know what their patients wishes are, how end of life care is often substandard and how if we improved end of life care then maybe we wouldn't need to have a debate on assisted suicide. Felos ended his presentation without making any arguments for why assisted suicide should be legal.

Wesley Smith was last and discussed the two main pillars (as he sees them) of proponents of assisted suicide.

1. A radical notion of personal autonomy where people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their lives including saying an example phrase "It's my body and I'll die if I want to" accidentally so it sounded like "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

2. Death is an acceptable answer to suffering.

He then talked about the consequences when a society accepts this kind of world view and discussed how compassion is really "suffering with" a patient. Wesley also shared how one of his first hospice patients (he volunteers for some kind of hospice organization) wanted to die when they first met and Wesley lost him as a patient, not because he died but because he got better and left hospice.

The Danger of the Religious Right

Watch out according to Harry Cook and Sherwin Wine's editorial in the Detroit News because the "rightist axis of politicians and fundamentalist clergy is a clear and present danger to our health, well-being and economic strength."

Cook and Wine also claim that intelligent design is a "fundamentalist religion disguised in a lab coat."

We're also told that Michigan will become an "an educational, medical and economic backwater" if intelligent design is taught in classrooms and if the non-existent prohibitions on embryonic stem cell research are not repealed. If these two things can be stopped (teaching intelligent design and keeping non-existent restrictions in place) then Michigan's economic growth will be ensured and Michigan will become more attractive to "21st century companies." I'm guessing both Cook and Wine don't know what Michigan law says and I'm assuming they're talking about embryonic stem cell research but the term "embryonic" is never mentioned. Michigan law doesn't prohibite embryonic stem cell research. Michigan law prohibites the killing of human embryos for research. It is legal for Michigan researchers to import embryonic stem cells and experiment on them in Michigan.

Cook and Wine also introduce a new freedom scientists supposedly have: "the freedom to experiment." Are there any restrictions to this "freedom" or is it completely unfettered? Cook and Wine don't say.

We're told that "economic self-interest" must motivate us to reject intelligent design and remove any restrictions on stem cell research (does this include allowing human cloning for research?). We're also told that the law prohibiting the destruction of human embryos in Michigan "amount(s) to indifference to human health and well-being." Funny, the purpose of the law was to make sure researchers weren't indifferent to the lives and well-being of unborn human beings.

Did I mention Cook and Wine are members of the clergy? Cook is an Episcopal minister and Wine is a rabbi.

How sad is state of some members of the clergy when "economic self-interest" is their guiding light instead of their Creator? How disappointing is it when members of the clergy put "economic self-interest" above truth and the lives of unborn human beings? How pathetic is it when members of the clergy turn to deceptive politicians like Andy Meisner for guidance instead of the word of God?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Life Links 10/9/06

Researchers in the UK want to clone human embryo using rabbit eggs.

Macht's brother is using some dangerous technology. One might actually be misled into thinking that entity pictured is some kind of human. Gasp!

Australian abortionist Suman Sood loses her license for 10 years after being convicted of performing an illegal abortion.

The website of the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures is still down. It's been almost 2 weeks. Maybe someone should tell them it's not the week of October 2 any longer.

Stupid celebrity quote of the week

From Sienna Miller : "Monogamy is a weird thing to me. It's overrated because, let's face it, we're all f***ing animals."

So then I'm guessing Sienna wasn't at all mad when her fiancee (at the time) Jude Law cheated on her?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Rascal doing one of the things she does best.

Gotta love those Detroit papers

Amazing isn't it how a story publicity stunt about Muhammad Ali endorsing Jennifer Granholm for governor because of her advocacy for killing more humans embryos for embryonic stem cell research gets an AP press story and is printed in a number of papers while the press release exposing advocates of killing embryos for research as uninformed plagiarizers gets nothing.

Also notice the extra bit of information at the end of the AP story from the Louisville Courier-Journal which is left out of the Detroit Free Press story linked above and other stories.
However, the group Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures is pushing to have the need for more embryonic stem cell research part of the public debate.

They warn that Michigan's restrictions could leave Michigan out of the race to find new cures, hurting research and the state economy.

Why isn't this part in the Free Press story? And wouldn't this be a perfect time for the Free Press to include a blurb about how the MCSCRC's web site has been down for more than a week (the week of Oct. 2 is quickly coming to a close) after Right to Life of Michigan exposed their web site plagiarism? Or maybe mention how Granholm is on the advisory committee to this organization?

World Views Collide (Part 1)

I was absent from the blogging yesterday because I spent most of my day at Worldviews Collide event put on by the Thomas Cooley Law School. The event featured two forums/debates, one on embryonic stem cell research and one on assisted suicide with a presentation about brain chip technology in between. I thought the event was well put together and was disappointed that more people didn't attend.

The first forum on embryonic stem cell research featured Louis Guenin and Bernard Siegel on the pro-embryonic stem cell side and William Hurlbut and Richard Doerflinger on the other side, though Hurlbut didn't really discuss any opposition to embryonic stem cell research but rather focused on discussing and defending altered nuclear transfer. Each speaker was given 15-20 minutes of opening, 5-10 minutes of rebuttal and then there was a Q and A with audience.

Guenin accepted that human embryos are organisms and they have a moral weight so his speech attempted to provide an argument for why killing human embryos for research would be justified. The main premise was that the developmental potential of these embryos was bounded (since parents have no duty to transplant) and therefore we have a moral obligation to use these embryos which could help those who are suffering. I felt his argument fell apart when he discussed embryo adoption/donation and he put the desires of the biological parents above the moral weight of the embryos (without really providing an argument to why) and didn't seem to understand that the biological parents are already parents and one could certainly argue that as biological parents to these embryos, the parents have certain obligations to their embryonic children.

He then talked about whether embryos are persons, claimed the Catholic Church provided the best arguments for the position that embryos are persons, went after different positions held by various theologians (usually based on a lack of knowledge of embryo development), concluded this position was untenable and then asserted that therefore there are no good arguments that an embryo is a person.

While I appreciated Guenin attempt at making a logical argument in favor of embryonic stem cell research I think he failed and during the question and answer I think he ultimately lost the audience when he asserted that his "finger was a human being."

Hurlbut then discussed human embryology and his hope of being able to create an entity which isn't a human organism yet still produces pluripotent stem cells. Even though I felt his speech was at times halting, he certainly came off as a thoughtful man who really wants to bridge the divide between those who favor and oppose embryonic stem cell research.

The presentation by Bernard Siegel made me visualize a junior high pitcher trying to strike out a major league slugger. He just kept throwing out these really poor assertions and arguments and Richard Doerflinger kept knocking them out of the park. Siegel's background is as a personal-injury lawyer (and as a co-owner of Florida Championship Wrestling) and he only has 3 years of experience with this issue and it showed. He actually admitted somatic cell nuclear transfer was cloning but typically referred to it as "nuclear transfer," he called Michigan's law banning human cloning "draconian," said opposition to embryonic stem cell research was basically fueled by a desire to attack Roe v. Wade (yeah, I know, really stupid), brought up the Science strawman attack on David Prentice, waxed about how much money opponents of embryonic stem cell research had (basically adding up the total income of a variety of Christian organizations (Focus, FRC, Catholic Bishops, etc.) and acting like all that money went to combat cloning and ESCR (never mentioned how much money proponents of cloning have poured into a variety of public persuasion campaigns), claimed human reproductive cloning was "unethical human experimentation" but never talked about why this was so much worse than human cloning for research. During the rebuttals, he never really responded when Doerflinger pointed out how silly some of his arguments were and during the question and answer time kept mostly quiet, especially when a woman in the audience asked where all these eggs necessary for human cloning are going to come from. Siegel is one of those guys that might sound smart to people who are entirely uninformed or completely on his side but when placed in a forum like this with people who are more experienced and knowledgeable he didn't come out looking very good.

Doerflinger's presentation and rebuttals showed him to be an experienced debater who knows this issue inside and out (even though he arrived late due to the cancellation of his original flight). The way he rebutted Siegel's points (often making the crowd laugh) made you wonder if he hired Siegel as a pawn to dismantle. Besides laying out the basics of the prolife position on this issue, he discussed how the RAND survey showed scientists would be able to create at most 275 cell lines from the available embryos at IVF clinics and pointed out these cell lines would have a great deal of genetic diversity (something Guenin wanted) and that scientists would have to create embryos to obtain genetic diversity.

I think one of his best lines was during the rebuttals after Siegel and Guenin moaned about the federal "restrictions" (aka not getting the federal funding exactly how they want it) on embryonic stem cell research was something like: "Just because the federal government won't buy me a car doesn't mean I can't drive." Or when rebutting Siegel's claims about money: "while the Catholic Bishops may have some moneys, you're looking at their stem cell department and that's only a part of my job."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I can't imagine anyone is this stupid

According to this story in the Telegraph, some British teens smoke for the purpose of having smaller babies because they think smaller babies=less pain during childbirth.

Life Links 10/4/06

Watching Robert George persuasively destroy Eduardo Penalver is almost painful.

Robert George and Patrick Lee have also dissected Lee Silver's arguments against their prolife arguments.

It appears the Wash for Life was a success.

Here's an AP article on Ms. Magazine's "We Had Abortions" campaign. Remember the one where the woman recruiting others to announce their abortion wouldn't say if she had an abortion or not. Notice the quote from Debbie Findling, one of the signers,
"It's emotionally devastating," she said in a phone interview. "I don't regret my decision _ but I regret having been put in the position to have to make that choice. It's something I'll live with for the rest of my life."
HT: Dawn Eden

Wesley Smith: PVS Patients: The New Human Guinea Pigs

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Free" speech for Colorado prolifer

Some people aren't too happy that CBS News aired the free speech of Brian Rohrbough on their news last night.

Among other things, Brian said, "We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children."

For his comments, Brian has been called "an idiot," "a sick, sick man" and compared to terrorists and for airing Rohrbough's statement CBS has been accused of "stoop(ing) to this level" and "promot(ing) this kind of garbage."

An update on the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures

Their web site (as of today) is still down. It will be a week tomorrow since they took down their web site filled with plagiarized information because of a "maintenance" problem. That must be one heck of a maintenance problem.

Yet as Serge points the fact that their web site is down still hasn't stopped some of Michigan's newspapers from promoting MCSCRC and their web site and showing how incredibly lazy/biased/absurd/ these newspapers are.

Nor has the internet "maintenance" problem stopped the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures from trying to deceive people via other venues. They'll be leading a panel at MichBio's expo and their executive director Marcia Baum will be the moderator. They've also asked the members of MichBio to fill out a survey on stem cell research which starts with a misleading question.

The first question on the survey asks, "Are you aware of the Michigan statute banning embryonic stem cell research?"

The problem with this question is that Michigan law doesn't ban embryonic stem cell research. It bans killing embryos for research. It doesn't prevent researchers from experimenting on embryonic stem cell lines - which is exactly what's going on at the University of Michigan.

The survey site also notes how MCSCRC is a 501(c)3 non-profit which means they shouldn't be promoting legislation or taking a position on legislation. Anyone who saw their web site before they took it down would have to be a little slow not to know what the MCSCRC thought about Andy Meisner's legislation to legalize killing embryos and human cloning for research. They're all for it and Meisner is even on their advisory board.

Isn't it nice to know that an organization devoted to educating Michigan's citizens on stem cell research would start their survey with such a misleading question? Isn't it nicer to know they'd be promoting legislation while holding the tax status of a group which isn't supposed to take a position on legislation?

Can the Michigan media get a clue on stem cell research?
More Lies (because of plagiarism) from the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures
Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures' web site is down
Spin Time for the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures
Detroit Free Press shows bias on embryonic stem cell research

"Worried" and "Dangerous"

That's how proponents of legal abortion in the United Kingdom feel about 4-D ultrasound technology.

The images are supposedly dangerous because of the "temptation .. to associate foetal movements" like thumb sucking and leg movements "with adult movements."

They're worried because the images of unborn children moving in the womb and looking like a miniature newborn children "do not prove that those human qualities can be attributed to a foetus."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Planned Parenthood assured me it was just tissue....

A woman named Barbara shares her abortion story.

More examples of pro-choice tolerance

At a Life Chain in Wilmington, North Carolina, some individuals threw eggs at the Life Chain participants while others grabbed their signs.

Life Chain participants in Des Moines had some "unprintable expletive(s)" thrown their way for peacefully holding signs.