Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Life Links 12/31/08

A couple in England have a healthy son after twice rejecting doctors suggestions that they abort the child.
Gaynor Purdy was warned her first child could have a fatal chromosome defect and a life threatening heart condition.

But she rejected two suggestions to terminate the pregnancy and she and her husband Lee are celebrating life with their "perfect" ten-month-old son.

Mrs Purdy, 28, a quality control inspector, said: "We refused to give up on him, and decided throughout the pregnancy that as long as he was fighting, we would continue fighting with him."

Melinda Penner discusses a dilemma which doesn't prove anything.

The Hill has an article on how Barack Obama will likely change Bush's embryonic stem cell policy and what effect that change will have on research. I enjoyed this quote from Sean Tipton.
“All we’ve been asking for is: ‘Treat embryonic stem cell research like everything else,’” Tipton said.
In other words, treat ethically problematic research as if it weren't ethically problematic.

The Prime Minister's Office in Canada has stated that "We will not introduce or support legislation on abortion" after the leader of the country's pro-life caucus said they would push for a debate.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mark Burton can’t stop lying about Proposal 2, even after it passes.

The Detroit Free Press featured this editorial by Mark Burton on December 18 and I’ve been meaning to respond for a while but have been slacking on blogging during the Christmas season.

Most of these editorial puff pieces describing all the awesome or horrible things ballot proposals will supposedly do usually occur before election but in this editorial Mark Burton describes what Proposal 2 will supposedly accomplish more than a month after Michigan voters voted in favor of it.

Burton unfortunately can’t get out of spin mode and makes a number of claims which are demonstratably false. It’s almost like proponents of killing human embryos for research in Michigan have been misleading the public for so long (with the help of papers like the Free Press) they don’t know how to be honest with them even after their proposal passed. Burton writes,
Proposal 2 was about restoring hope for millions of patients, their friends, and families facing debilitating disease. It unshackles Michigan’s talented researchers and physicians, and permits them to finally join the race for cures by utilizing the most promising medical advancement of the 21st Century: embryonic stem cell research.

Finally, Michigan researchers get to do something they’ve been doing since 2002.

Has the 21st century really produced so few medical advancement that cells which have yet to treat or cure anyone and haven’t been approved for a single clinical trials are the “most promising medical advancement?”
President-Elect Barack Obama, in a marked difference from President Bush, campaigned for, and strongly supports, freeing up hundreds of millions of federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research.
Umm.... except for the fact that the federal government's National Institutes of Health has spent about $40 million a year on human embryonic stem cell research for the last number of years. Obama will more than likely support allowing the NIH to fund human embryonic stem cell research on cell lines created after 2001 but I doubt they’ll be spending hundreds of millions on that small sliver of the pluripotent stem cell research pie.
Because of Proposal 2, Michigan’s great institutions can now compete for those funds, which will accelerate the pursuit for cures and treatments to afflictions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes, sickle cell anemia and spinal cord injuries.
Except that Michigan researchers have already been competing for federal human embryonic stem cell funding. They even received a sizeable, multi-year federal grant in 2003.

Planned Parenthood double charging for services?

Ahhh.... Planned Parenthood’s abortion work is so thorough they think they might as well charge twice. From the AbortionBlogger, who recently had an RU-486 abortion,
I just got a bill from my insurance company.

Planned Parenthood sent them a bill FOR OVER $1,000. They want me to pay $200.

Since I already payed for my abortion, I believe this means they charged me once and my insurance company TWICE.
When she goes in for her follow-up appointment here’s the response she gets when she brings the issue up.
Yea, you guys sent a $1,000+ bill to my insurance company even though I already payed for the abortion when I was here (and it was $525, not $1000+). Why? Can you un-do that?" but they pretty quickly let me know that this wasn't their problem, and gave me the number to the billing office. I'll tackle that problem later because I have a cold, and am just not feeling up for it.
She also writes,
I thought about my 2 minute doctor appointment that I had waited several hours for, and was generally dissatisfied. I had been given too much time to worry about my "not pregnancy" to just accept that all was fine. And I was still supremely cranky about the insurance mess up, and the combination made me feel generally distrustful of the clinic. So I asked for a copy of the ultrasound, filled out the necessary paperwork to get copies released to me, and left.

Life Links 12/29/08

The Telegraph has an article on Lexie Slater-Folksman, a child who survived after being born at 23 weeks. Abortion is legal in the UK through the 24th week. Sarah Slater, the baby’s mother, is quoted as saying,
“Some mothers-to-be would be able to legally terminate their pregnancy at 23 weeks - yet my Lexie is living proof babies can survive being born so prematurely.

"I never realised a baby would be so well developed at 23 weeks and they do have a chance life. My Lexie is living proof the abortion limit should be lowered.”

Canada’s National Post has a story on frozen embryos which has a number of quotes from fertility doctors regarding the feelings of parents who store their embryonic children.

Also from up north, Rod Bruinooge, the recently elected chair of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, writes, “Why I am pro-life.”
Most Canadians would agree that you should not be able to remove your kidney and sell it on eBay to the highest bidder. Although it's your body and your kidney, this would not only be a poor bioethical choice, but it is in fact illegal under our laws.

Most Canadians would also agree that an unborn child in the ninth month of gestation, moments away from delivery, should not be eligible for an elective abortion. However, regardless of the fact that this would be an extremely poor bioethical choice, it is in fact legal. As such, Canada has far greater protections for human kidneys than we do for human fetuses.

David Bass describes how the agenda of pro-choice organizations, entitled "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration" and posted on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition web site, would provide some “hefty handouts” to pro-choice groups in this time of financial uncertainty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Life Links 12/23/08

Another breakthrough using induced pluripotent stem cells.
A team led by neuroscientist Clive Svendsen used the new stem cells to create a model of spinal muscular atrophy, the most common genetic cause of infant mortality. Researchers at Harvard University and elsewhere have used the cells to simulate other diseases, but Svendsen is the first to do so and show how a disease process works, said a prominent scientist in the field.

In the Weekly Standard, Wesley Smith writes about a district court ruling to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.
Still, McCarter wasn't totally insensitive to the charge that she--like too many judges--would have courts settle all the controversial social questions rather than the people through the democratic process. She just saw no reason to wait for the political branches of government to recognize that the time had come to legalize assisted suicide. "Here, the Court is simply the first in line to deal with the issue," she wrote, "followed by the legislature to implement the right. Thus, both the courts and the legislature are involved."

In a post on the new HHS conscience rules, Jill at Feministe has this unintentionally hilarious quote,
Can you imagine if a pro-choice group decided it just wasn’t going to tell women about the options of birth and adoption? And if instead, it gave women scare-tactic, inaccurate propaganda about how adoption is exploitative and will leave you miserable, and how childbirth is directly linked to depression, and how there is clearly One Best Choice? People would (rightly) throw a fit.

Yes, just imagine if a pro-choice organization did everything it could to sell women on abortion and provided no real services to women who choose to raise the child or choose adoption. And then imagine this organization gets hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and is the largest abortion provider in America.

Too bad we don't have to imagine.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life Links 12/18/08

Wesley Smith on “experts” calling for more genetic tests to cull unborn children with Down Syndrome.
This is rank eugenics. Germans in the 1930s called it racial hygiene. Not long ago, it was considered the worst sort of bigotry. Not today, apparently because "the experts" tell us so.

Babies with Down won't be the only casualties of this pogrom, either. Making these tests universal will also result in the unintended deaths of babies that would have been born without a disability.

JT at Between Two Worlds links and quotes from a few posts in “Abortion, the New Administration and Anarchy.”

Sarah Posner has a piece in the American Prospect which provides some insight into how pro-choicers like Posner see prolife individuals who are involved in trying to get Democrats to embrace their abortion reduction goals.
Calling abortion "morally repugnant" shows that even those claiming to stand on "common ground" can still deploy the incendiary language that the evangelical-Catholic coalition claims to eschew. Common ground is a worthy goal, but the abortion-reduction coalition's claim to define it is itself an impediment to cooperation with the dominant pro-choice elements of Obama's coalition.

Luxemborg is currently in the process of attempting to legalize euthanasia but they’ll have to remove powers from Grand Duke Henri first.


That’s what both Ann at Feministing and Jill at Feministe are calling Rick Warren after hearing the news that he will give the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

I’m having difficulty seeing anything that resembles an argument in either of these posts for why Rick Warren is supposedly a bigot besides noting that he was in favor of Proposition 8 and is opposed to same-sex marriage.

Have proponents of same-sex marriage reached such depths that anyone who is opposed to same-sex marriage and publicly voices that opposition can be termed a bigot?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"I don't care how old he is"

Another week and another video showing Planned Parenthood staff in Indiana failing to fufill their duty to report statutory rape.

Planned Parenthood has suspended the staffer and a member of Indiana's General Assembly has called on the Indiana attorney general to investigate Planned Parenthood.

One local television station is reporting that the attorney general's office is investigating Planned Parenthood based on the first video in which the now fired staffer told the undercover staffer to lie about her age.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bundle Up

Ross Douthat's post pointing out that Planned Parenthood unbundles its services and that abortion is a much larger part of what they do than they'd like to admit has drawn the ire of a few pro-choice bloggers.

In the later link, Lauren at Feministe seems to think she can dismiss Charlotte Allen's Planned Parenthood piece (which Douthat quotes) by simply claiming that Allen is calling women who go to Planned Parenthood "sluts." Unfortunately, Lauren is so blinded by her idea that people who are opposed to abortion think women who go to Planned Parenthood are "sluts" that she can't understand Allen's real argument. No one is arguing that Planned Parenthood separates it statistics based on whether women get abortions or not. We know they unbundle services regardless of whether a woman has an abortion or not. The point about the unbundling is that unbundling services allows Planned Parenthood to act like abortion is only a very small part (3%) of what they do when in fact it is a much larger part.

Amie Newman provides almost less insight by writing this,
Planned Parenthood isn’t “massaging” numbers by separating out numbers of reproductive and sexual health care services provided to women either before or after an abortion. When a woman comes to a health care provider with an unintended pregnancy and wishes to discuss her (legal!) options, she is first asked to take a pregnancy test. This is, of course, a separate service from an abortion procedure. The medical provider needs to know for sure that this woman is pregnant first. Then they can discuss options: continuing the pregnancy and parenting the child, continuing the pregnancy and working with adoption services, or having an abortion, thus terminating the pregnancy. That’s what health providers do - should they instead, in Allen and Douthat’s world – ask women to come in with a used pregnancy test? Secondly, Planned Parenthood does not provide prenatal or childbirth services. Women who visit Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test are more than likely already thinking about abortion as an option.
So Planned Parenthood discusses all the options but only can help with one option. Plus, most women who think they're pregnant and go PP are already looking for an abortion. Interestingly, most Planned Parenthood's only discuss other options with abortion-seeking clients if their state has an informed consent law (the same laws Planned Parenthood fights so vigorously against).

But back to the bundling services debate. This is kind of like a restaurant claiming that providing meals is only a small part of the services they offer. If customers eat the bread rolls, that's another service. If customers gets a drink, that's another service. If they have a dessert that's another service. If they take a mint or a toothpick on the way out, that's another service. By this standard providing meals only accounts for 20% of that restaurant's services or even less if you count the customers who just come in for a drink or a dessert.

Life Links 12/16/08

Renee A. Reijo Pera, director of Stanford’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education, provides a perfect example during her interview with the New York Times of why we shouldn't blindingly trust scientists regarding public policy question. Sometimes they don't have any clue what they're talking about.
Think about it: we study embryos donated by couples who finished their I.V.F. treatments. They would be destroyed anyway. Nationally, the clinics discard about 400,000 unused embryos every year — and yet few people consider I.V.F. clinics “immoral.” Stem cell researchers use about 10,000 of those about-to-be-discarded embryos. And in learning from them, we are getting information that we can get nowhere else, that will make mothers and babies healthier.
Except for the fact that the 400,000 statistic was the number of frozen human embryos stored at IVF clinics (not the number thrown away annually) and the 10,000 (actually 11,000) statistic was the number of embryos which were available to be used for research not the number actually used by researchers. The RAND study also notes that the 11,000 embryos available for research would result in approximately 275 stem cell lines.

Also, note Pera's incredibly shallow answer to whether she has any moral qualms about killing human embryos.

Another example of pro-choice intolerance.
The sign's pro-life messages were covered with smudged blue and red spray-paint and accompanied by the phrases "woman's choice" and "free choice."

A Swedish doctor who failed to spot a woman's unborn child and accidentally removed the child has been reprimanded for his actions.
The 28-year-old woman had sought treatment at the Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset) in May 2007 because she was having trouble getting pregnant.

An ultrasound performed in September showed that the woman’s fallopian tubes were free from obstruction, but also revealed suspected polyps along the uterine wall.

Doctors scheduled an operative hysteroscopy for December, during which the suspect tissue was scraped away.

A subsequent examination of the discarded material revealed that it contained a fetal tissue.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Potentially life-threatening condition? "No worries," says abortionist

The Raving Atheist has a post about a new blogger (AbortionBlogger) who started a blog to chronicle her experience with abortion. She had an RU-486 abortion last week.

In her post Clinic Day: Part 2 she discusses her experience inside the abortion clinic. During a vaginal ultrasound, the clinic worker is unable to find the embryo.
She asked if I wanted to see, and I said yes.

But she couldn't find anything. She looked at my chart and saw that my last period was only 5 weeks ago. "Hmm.. " she said. "The doctor will have to make a decision, but you may have to come back later, or this could be an ectopic pregnancy."


So.... then more waiting in the waiting room, then I talked to the doc for a short while (a dude, surprisingly enough). He told me there was a small chance I had an ectopic pregnancy, but he wasnt too worried about it because I was probably just too early for anything to show up on the ultrasound. So he wasnt making me come back in 2 weeks (SWEET!!!).

So she could have had a dangerous medical condition but the abortionist wasn’t too worried about since she was so early in her pregnancy. Since she was so early, wouldn’t it make sense for a responsible doctor to wait a couple weeks before giving her the abortion pills?

Life Links 12/15/08

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s what what Planned Parenthood wants out of Obama’s presidency and Dave Andrusko’s summary of it.

Ross Douthat responds to pro-choice bloggers who have difficulty understanding why prolifers don’t want their tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood.
But telling people who are against abortion that they're "pro-herpes" because they don't support channeling three hundred million public dollars a year to America's largest abortion provider is the equivalent of me accusing a fierce and moralizing anti-theist like Sam Harris of being "anti-education" because he doesn't want his tax dollars being used to, say, fund the Catholic school system. The phenomenon of an institution that does good with one hand and evil with another is a familiar one in human history - even Hezbollah does a lot of impressive humanitarian work, I believe - and it does not by any means follow that those who oppose the evil are morally obligated to support the institution anyway just because it does other, less morally problematic things besides.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has an online article about a recent study of Australian women who either had abortions or miscarriages.
The study, which appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry, also showed that having an abortion before 21 years of age doubled the risk of alcohol abuse or of developing depression; and more than tripled the risk of illicit drug use.

The study took into account existing risk factors such as child sexual abuse, teenage alcohol and illicit drug use and mental health disorders.

It looks like the UK’s Telegraph and Sun are running a story about 10,000 women (that number seems awfully round, doesn’t it?) from Poland coming to Great Britain for abortions based solely on an estimate from a Polish pro-choice organization. Solid journalism, huh?

A couple of Russian news sources have noted that the bodies 5 unborn children who were apparently aborted were found in garbage bin in Moscow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life Links 12/12/08

The Washington Post links to and writes about a new statement from the Vactian entitled Dignitas Personae which focuses on various bio-ethical issues including embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. Glenn McGee has a truly odd quote on the second page of the article wondering where all the Catholics who comment on bio-ethics have gone.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has fired the nurse who was caught on video encouraging an undercover prolifer posing as a teenager looking for an abortion to lie about the age of her boyfriend.

It's amazing the things some pro-choice representatives will say. Here's Nita Lowey claiming the Mexico City policy (aka the Global Gag Rule) would be "patently unconstitutional" if it was applied in the U.S. Lowey's knowledge of the Constitution is apparently so scarce she thinks it would be an unconstitutional violation of free speech for the U.S. government to make decisions on which organizations it provides taxpayer funding based on whether they perform or promote abortion. What she doesn't seem to understand is that if the Mexico City policy was applied for domestic funding, it wouldn't prevent organizations like Planned Parenthood from talking about and promoting abortion, it would merely prevent them from receiving government funds. There's a big difference between the right to free speech and the privilege to receive government funding.

Catholic Online has reprinted a Public Discourse essay by Robert George regarding the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists paper on the conscience rights of physician who are opposed to performing abortions.
Those responsible for the report purport to be speaking as physicians and medical professionals. The special authority the report is supposed to have derives from their standing and expertise as physicians and medical professionals, yet at every point that matters, the judgments offered reflect their philosophical, ethical, and political judgments, not any expertise they have by virtue of their training and experience in science and medicine.

The Belfast Telegraph has an op-ed by Laurence White entitled "Why assisted suicide should not be an option in our society."
Remember that when the Abortion Act was introduced it was for well-defined exceptional cases, but over the years has become so debased that terminations are now often contraception for the forgetful.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Baby/Cat Blogging

Life Links 12/11/08

With the recent news of Rod Blagojevich’s rub-my-back-and-I’ll-rub-yours style of politics and his belief that he was owed something (campaign contributions, etc.) by organizations and companies whom the government did business with, I’m wondering if something more than politics (i.e. $$$) was the reason for his executive order to spend $10 million of Illinois’ money on embryonic stem cell research.

Related - David Prentice lists some other actions Blagojevich has taken to promote embryonic stem cell research while in office.

Princeton Professor and prolife advocate Robert Geroge was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal yesterday.

Robert Klein’s salary for being head of CIRM (California embryonic stem cell agency) will be $150,000 for working half-time.

Researchers at Harvard have discovered that some stem cells in bone marrow divide at a much slower rate than other cells.
While researchers said they are uncertain about the significance of this new finding, Hock suggested the slower stem cell division could be a biological mechanism to preserve the integrity of the cells. Since genetic mutations accumulate as cells divide, slower division could reduce the rate of mutation, he said.

Change, huh?

Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds submitted the following question to Obama’s web site regarding Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.
"Would you consider rescinding your promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, given your desire to reduce abortions and to seek common ground, and in light of the fact that it would invalidate every measure and law intended to reduce abortions?"
It has been removed “because people believe it is inappropriate.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life Links 12/10/08

The Wall Street Journal has an article from Stephanie Simon on prolifers attempting to remove Planned Parenthood funding on the state and local level.
But the new lobbying effort, backed by conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council, focuses more on economic than moral concerns. The campaign paints Planned Parenthood as a wealthy organization that doesn't need taxpayer help. Planned Parenthood reported record revenue and a $115 million budget surplus last year, and it is building a network of elegant health centers to attract middle-class clients.

The New York Times has published letters to the editor responding to Ross Douthat's recent op-ed on abortion.

Wesley Smith points out a moment of honesty from assisted suicide proponent Kathryn Tucker in one of her recent op-eds.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why have any restrictions in the first place?

Last Thursday, Amie Newman at the RH Reality Check blog outlined and commented on Rick Weiss’ piece at the Center for American Progress web site which calls for a new federal policy on the funding of human embryonic stem cell research.

Newman writes (my emphasis), “President-Elect Obama has an opportunity to cleanse the federal government of far too many ideological, non-scientifically based restrictions placed upon science by President Bush over the last eight years.”

She then lays out Weiss’ suggestions for restrictions and says, “All of these restrictions ensure that all ethical considerations are taken into account, in particular that embryos are not created solely for research purposes nor harmed or destroyed in the research process beyond what is allowed, under law, on fetuses in utero.”

Below are Weiss’ suggested “minimum” restrictions.
* The cells must have been derived from embryos produced for reproductive purposes.

* Those embryos must have been deemed in excess of medical need, were no longer being considered for transfer to a womb ,and were slated for destruction.

* The embryos were freely donated by both of the adults who contributed genetic material to create them, as evidenced by proper written informed consent.

* No financial inducements were offered to donors, and the donors expressed through an informed consent process their understanding that any resulting cell lines will be used for research and not for the development of therapeutic benefits for the donors.

* All federally funded research on human embryonic stem cells must be conducted under the review of a Stem Cell Research Oversight committee that adheres to the standards put forth in the guidelines of either the National Academies or the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Now are any of these restrictions “scientifically based?” Or do they all, as Newman later remarks, ensure that “ethical considerations are taken into account?”

It seems ethical considerations that Newman agrees with are “scientifically based” while ethical considerations which she disagrees with, such as not funding research on human embryonic stem cell lines created after 2001, are “non-scientifically based.”

While Newman struggles to understand the difference between science and ethics, Weiss fails to provide reasons for why his suggested restrictions should be in place in the first place. Why only provide funding for research on cell lines from human embryos created for reproductive purposes? Why do the embryos have to be in excess of medical need and slated for destruction? Why shouldn’t the federal government provide funding for research on cell lines created from human embryos who were created with the intention of killing them for their cells?

His piece doesn’t even attempt to answer these questions. There seems to be no ethical anchor for his position. If killing human embryos for research isn’t ethically wrong, then why are stem cells derived from human embryos created solely for research not “ethically derived human embryonic stem cells?”

Further evidence of a lack of ethical anchor arises later in the piece when Weiss calls on Congress to pass legislation codifying the stem cell funding policy,
“The legislation should provide broad, principled, ethical standards so that the science can evolve in the direction that experimentation and evidence takes it—subject always to policy details promulgated by HHS/NIH.

The legislation should charge HHS with the duty to update at regular intervals, such as every two years, its regulations for embryonic stem cell research in light of new science.”
So ethical regulations should be updated based not on ethics but on science. In other words, Weiss wants the door left open for HHS to change his minimum requirements in case cell lines which don’t meet his requirements become scientifically useful or necessary.

Knowledgeable proponents of embryonic stem cell research know that freely donated “leftover” frozen human embryos from IVF treatments won’t create genetically diverse treatments for every American suffering from even one of the diseases they’ve promised a cure for. They know they’ll need “personalized” stem cell lines created from cloned human embryos created for non-reproductive purposes to avoid the problems with Graft vs. Host Disease.

So Weiss’ suggestions amount to this: Ethical restrictions with no ethical anchor which can be quickly removed if they get in the way of what scientists want.

Gee, thanks.

Related: Wesley Smith notes Weiss’ former job as a Washington Post reporter who often focused on stem cells and how seamless a transition it is for a reporter who shills for embryonic stem cell research to become a leftist think-tank employee who shills for embryonic stem cell research.

Life Links 12/8/08

Ross Douthat has an editorial in the New York Times entitled, “Abortion Politics Didn’t Doom the G.O.P.”
Overturning Roe and Casey has never been an easy task, and the election of Barack Obama will make it that much more difficult. Facing a hostile governing majority, pro-lifers can and should talk more about the possibility of compromise: They should explain, more often and more cogently, that if Americans want laws that better reflect their muddled sentiments on abortion, it is pro-choice maximalism, not the pro-life movement, that’s really standing in the way.

But so long as the Supreme Court remains closely divided, and a post-Roe world remains in reach, the movement’s basic political task must remain the same. Not because pro-lifers are absolutists who reject compromise, but because any real compromise will always depend on overturning Roe. Giving up on this goal would mean giving up the movement’s very purpose, while gaining nothing in return.

Denis Boyles has the details of the latest ruling in the Kline/Planned Parenthood records case.

Embryonic stem cell will lead to miraculous cell-based therapies for every disease imaginable? Not likely. Instead their most likely use will be to test the toxicity of drugs.

Robert Klein, the head of CIRM, California’s embryonic stem cell agency, says, “Show me the money!”
Klein informed the board in September that he wanted a salary. He said that in consideration of the current economic climate, he would continue to provide at least 15 percent of his time to the institute for free.
What a nice guy! Who else wouldn't mind providing 15% of their work time for free if 85% of their work time resulted in a salary which will likely be around $500,000?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Life Links 12/5/08

Former California abortion clinic operator Bertha Bugarin has pleaded guilty to nine counts of practicing medicine without a license.

Kate Looby, the director of Planned Parenthood's South Dakota clinics has been laid off.
Looby, the group's South Dakota state director, was one of nine full-time employees and one part-timer cut from Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said director of media relations Kathi Di Nicola. The rest of the cuts occurred in Minnesota....

Her departure was "a result of some tough decisions we had to make in light of the economy," Di Nicola said.

The American media's selective printing of stories about abortion and mental health never ceases to amaze me. Using google news I couldn't find a single mainstream U.S. news outlet which covered Dr. David Fergusson's published results about abortion and mental health in the British Journal of Psychiatry. I found an article in the Irish Times, some New Zealand newspapers, and the UK's Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, a couple of days later, researchers at John Hopkins release a study of abortion and mental health studies where they selected which studies would be studied and found no study they deemed quality to show a link between abortion and depression and there's suddenly an influx of U.S. media attention from the UPI, ABC News, MSNBC, and Reuters.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life Links 12/4/08

I don’t to see how a jury is going to buy Emran Hussan’s defense for killing his wife. He was supposedly scared his wife was going to have an abortion, so he strangled her, killing her and their unborn child.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention has collected 50 million pennies and erected a memorial to the approximately 50 million children aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade. A plaque at the memorial reads
Before you is a collection of 50 million pennies! Each penny represents one child who has been aborted since the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade in 1973. A penny like a baby seems to be so small and sometimes of very little worth, but when seen in a collection of 50 million it becomes enormous. Each coin is a person, but in many cases it also represents the difficult process of decision-making, fear, and loneliness. While some speak of pro-choice, these babies had no choice. While some speak of a mother's right to control her own body, 50 million babies were not given their right to live. Fifty million missing children represented by these pennies must be cause for us to stop, pray, consider what we are doing as a nation, ask God to forgive us, seek ways to help those who are struggling with the decision, and look to the Lord to restore each of us.

Dutch authorities have dropped charges against a woman accused of traveling to Spain to have an abortion in the 28th week of her pregnancy.
The public prosecutor's office in the central city of Den Bosch says in a statement Thursday that the case has been closed because the woman suffers psychological problems and is considered unlikely to repeat the offense.

MIT’s Technology Review has a piece on the stem cell snake oil sales companies.

"Ok, so that's that problem solved."

A Planned Parenthood nurse named Diana has been suspended after the release of this video of her coaching undercover prolife investigator Lila Rose (posing as a 13-year-old) to lie about her relationship with a 31-year-old.

What I found interesting about the video is the Planned Parenthood employee seems visible shaken when Rose says her boyfriend is 31. We can’t see hear facial expressions because the her face is blurred but she leans forward and appears to put her head in her hands for about 15 seconds and becomes very quiet. Yet she then composes herself and goes on to tell Rose about Indiana’s statutory rape law and says, “I don’t want to know the age” and “That’s child abuse” before coaching Rose and how to lie about her boyfriend’s age.

It seems the idea of “choice” and that a women (or girl, in this case) has the right to do whatever she wants to do with her body has so infected these employees that they’re willing to 1.) Break the law and 2.) Cover up actions they recognize as child abuse in order to protect a girl’s right to have sex with whoever she wants.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Life Links 12/3/08

Researchers in Germany have used adult stem cells to help treat a stroke patient.
The trial, led by Professor Thomas Brinker, of the International Neuroscience Institute in Hanover, is designed only to assess the safety of the new technique, and not to monitor its effectiveness. It will eventually involve 20 patients.

Even so, Professor Brinker said yesterday that the early indications looked good. “We see a path of recovery as good as this only in the minority of patients, so it is an encouraging start,” he said. “It is most important that we found [that there were] definitively no side-effects from the treatment.”

CBS News has reprinted a New Republic article by Denise Ross entitled, "Why Won't South Dakota Ban Abortion?"

In a recent sermon, Franklin Graham spoke out strongly against abortion.
"You say, ‘Well come on, Franklin. This is California. We’re kind of a liberal state, but they’ll still put you in jail for murder around here.’ No, they don’t,” Graham said before pointing to abortion as a form of murder.

“There’s some of you here tonight who are guilty, guilty of murder. And there are some of you men ... you’re guilty because you’ve approved of what your girlfriend has done or what your wife has done or your sister has done,” he said. “You’ve approved it, and you’re guilty too.”

The New York Times Magazine had a feature story by Alex Kuczynski on her experience with having a surrogate mother carry her biological child. The story also chronicles Kuczynski's failed IVF cycles.

Jill at Feministe has corrected her post about Planned Parenthood gift certificates after erronously claiming something like, "What they neglect to mention is Planned Parenthood provides an abortion for every 92,000 women it sees." Her post now reads, "What they neglect to mention that while Planned Parenthood of Indiana provided 5,000 abortions last year, that was out of 92,000 total patients." 92,000 divided by 5,000 means Planned Parenthood of Indiana provides an abortion for approximately every 18 patients it sees (though I'm wondering if the 92,000 stat is patients or services).

What amazes me about this is that Jill actually thought (after misreading a LA Times blog) Planned Parenthood only performs 1 abortion for every 92,000 patients. You have to be almost complete ignorant about Planned Parenthood's operations to believe something like that. After reading her blog, I immediately knew this had to be wrong considering that Planned Parenthood affiliates provide more than 250,000 abortions annually and I know they come nowhere near seeing 23 billion women.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Life Links 12/1/08

Naomi Lakritz and political science professors at the University of Calgary take college students and the University of Calgary to task, respectively, for attempting to prevent the display of images of aborted children and their unwillingness to defend the freedom of speech. From the professors’ editorial:
The university would never order an activist animal rights group that might display pictures of animals bleeding, suffering or dead to turn its pictures inward. Nor would the university censor or threaten antiwar activists for posting pictures of those burnt alive in Hiroshima or Dresden by Allied bombs.

The more likely response would be that such images show the end results of past personal and political decisions. The university would likely argue such depictions might make some uncomfortable, but that's the point of a university: to question, analyze and debate about one's own assumptions and morality, as well as that of others.

Gift certificates which can be redeemed for, among other things, abortion? What will Planned Parenthood think of next?

David Fergusson has a new study out on abortion and mental health published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (abstract here). The study’s results were mentioned in the both the New Zealand Herald and the UK’s Telegraph. From the abstract:
After adjustment for confounding, abortion was associated with a small increase in the risk of mental disorders; women who had had abortions had rates of mental disorder that were about 30% higher. There were no consistent associations between other pregnancy outcomes and mental health. Estimates of attributable risk indicated that exposure to abortion accounted for 1.5% to 5.5% of the overall rate of mental disorders.

Lisa Miller has an article in Newsweek on prolife atheists though I strongly disagree with Christopher Hitchens saying that he's "prolife." It also seems that Hitchens thinks RU-486 is the same thing as emergency contraception.

There is at least one silver lining to the Obama presidency. Janet Napolitano will no longer be able to veto prolife legislation as homeland security secretary.

British scientists have used adult stem cells to help heal torn knee cartilage.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alex, I'll take Cowardly Canadian Colleges for $400.

This public Canadian university is threatening to arrest and discipline students for showing images of aborted children alongside images of victims of the Holocaust.

What is the University of Calgary?

This display and the conversation it brings could probably help the level of discourse if Heather Dunphy's pathetic prolifers-are-wrong-because-they're-all-men letter to the editor is any indication of the kind of arguments pro-choicers are bringing to the table. I mean, who cares if the images are true and innocent, developing human beings are being killed if most of people against killing them are men? Ms. Dunphy's letter certainly isn't the best advertisement for parents hoping their children will learn basic reasoning skills at the University of Calgary.

And what's with this nonsensical quote from Moira McQueen of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute at the end of the National Post article?
"It's such a different reality," said Ms. McQueen, who opposes abortion. "The Holocaust was so specific and dreadful. And abortion is international and not a society choice. I do know there are some people who think of abortion as a compassionate act. I don't [think] anyone would agree that killing Jewish people was a compassionate thing to do."
If this is an accurate quote, I'm wondering if the CCBI might need someone with a greater ability to think clearly on staff. I'm struggling to see why anything of what she says would lead someone who opposes abortion to think it's inappropriate to put pictures of aborted children next to Holocaust victims. How does the fact that some people think abortion is a compassionate act void its comparison to the Holocaust and other genocides?

Monday, November 24, 2008

It will take more than a week

Russia Today notes that the Russian city of Novorossiysk will implement policies intended to stop abortions for a week.
From the 24th to the 28th of November the city will conduct a "week without abortion". This means that doctors will not conduct termination operations, apart from "the most extreme cases".

At the same time, Novorossiysk's maternity welfare centre will hold open days during which information seminars on family planning will take place and "educational" films will be shown. Psychologists and gynaecologists will work with pregnant women in order to fully prepare them for motherhood. The city's universities will screen films, demonstrating the detrimental effects abortions may have.

A representative of the city's administration said that "doctors will do everything they can to stop women from doing the irreparable".
Russia has one of the highest abortion rates in the world and its government has been attempting to lower the number of abortions and increase births.
In 2004 the number of abortions in Russia surpassed the number of births by 100,000. According to the statistics published by the national centre of gynaecology and midwifery, around 10-15% of abortions in Russia have complications, leaving 7-8% of operated women sterile. In Western Europe there is, on average, 12 abortions per 1,000 women a year, UN statistics say. In Russia that number stands at 54.

Future abortionist? Or not?

The Washington Post has a very long article on Lesley Wojcik and other medical students who are thinking of becoming abortionists. I suggest you read the whole thing if you have the time but here are a few snippets in case you don’t.
The everyday pressure of being an abortion provider can be grating: the self-censorship, the disapproving stares of fellow doctors, the social repercussions in small communities. So perhaps it's not surprising that among doctors who said they wanted to provide abortions when they entered their residencies, only 52 percent did so once they were working, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology by Jody Steinauer, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a co-founder of Medical Students for Choice....

There isn't anything nice about abortion, Lesley said, but she does not equate it with murder. "I think it's a necessary evil, no, unpleasant service, we have to provide for the sake of" women's lives and health. But she wouldn't call herself passionate or driven to provide abortions. "I don't have a gut drive. It's more like an intellectual drive. A woman's control over her body is representative of her freedom. I feel the obligation to make sure that service is available and not stigmatized."...

In her e-mail, Christina had hoped to attract participants by suggesting that they'd have fun learning the procedure: "You'll get the opportunity to be shown how to use manual vacuum aspirators using papaya models (apparently papayas bear a striking resemblance to a uterus. Who knew?)" But some of the students who received the invitation didn't see it that way. "This is a serious matter," one told Christina. Those offended by her tone demanded to be dropped from any future Medical Students for Choice e-mails. After consulting a dean, the women didn't remove any names from their list, but they decided to word future missives more carefully....

Now it was the students' turn to try the procedure in the lab next door. Imagining herself working on a real woman, Lesley looked tentative as she pushed up her sleeves and reached for the razor-sharp tenaculum.

"This just seems so awful," she exclaimed as she tried to grab the papaya with it. "Do [patients] feel this?"

Her look turned to fright when the nurse practitioner at her station answered that they do.

After helping to perform a first trimester abortion, Lesley then asked to sit in on a second trimester abortion.
This time, the procedure took 10 minutes instead of five. The dilator was bigger; there was more tissue to remove; and the patient, although sedated, was awake and moving with discomfort. Lesley watched as the doctor counted the parts of the fetus, and, to her surprise, she didn't find it jarring. To her, the parts appeared doll-like.

"It was definitely gruesome," she said. "You could make out what a fetus could look like, tiny feet, lungs, but it didn't look like a person." She knew this abortion was an act that her friend Litty considered tantamount to murder. She herself expected to be very upset. She'd felt that way at her first autopsy, that of a teenage boy who'd shot himself in the head. For weeks, she could not shake the image of the boy. But this was different. She didn't regard the fetus as a person yet. She said she was happy to help the woman: "I feel like I was giving [her] a new lease" on life.

Later that morning, though, while conducting a pelvic exam, Lesley noted that she wasn't her usual slow, gentle self. That evening, discussing the second-term abortion with her mother, Lesley described a process that she found disturbingly brutal, especially the stretching of the vagina.

"It's a lot more invasive than I thought," she said. "A papaya doesn't bleed and scream." Women do.

Lesley didn't want to have to steel herself emotionally to perform abortions, and she was coming to realize that that's what she'd have to do....

The things she cared about -- taking care of women, seeing them through the process -- hadn't happened. It was the nurse practitioner who cared for the patient. Vacuuming out a uterus and counting the parts of the fetus did not seem like a desirable way to spend her work days. It took a unique person to do that on a daily basis, she said.

Lesley still believed passionately in abortion rights and was proud of what she'd accomplished at Maryland with her activism. She didn't want to let people down. Even so, she had to follow her heart. Somebody else -- maybe Laura Merkel, the new chapter president of Medical Students for Choice -- would become an abortion provider. But it wouldn't be her.

Life Links 11/24/08

I wonder what prolife Obama supporters think of him appointing Ellen Moran , executive director of EMILY’s List, to be his White House communications director. Is Moran’s appointment, as Doug Kmiec might put it, a way “to use compassion and assistance, not condemnation and prohibition to promote human life.” I guess we'll just have to wait and get the know President-elect Obama as well as Kmiec knows him.

Dr. D. Joy Riley has an op-ed in the Tennessean about the numerous changes in how a human embryo is treated in Britain since the inception of IVF.

Nat Hentoff has a column in the Washington Times on Obama and his pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

There’s a notable editorial in the Sacramento Bee on the problems with California’s embryonic stem cell agency.
The most striking testimony came from Kenneth Taymor, executive director of the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy.

Taymor, who has been watching the institute's operations for three years, noted that nearly everyone on the institute's governing board – medical school deans, university officials – has some sort of financial interest in the grants being awarded.

Even with officials recusing themselves, the board's deliberations, he said, have the feel of "a club that was allocating money among themselves" based on preordained decisions.

Wesley Smith on the whining of researchers intent on getting human eggs for human cloning.
But I digress: What's ridiculous is scientists expecting women to line up and risk their health, fecundity, and even their lives in order for "the scientists" to potentially gain world fame and huge dollars from their biotech companies from human cloning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Life Links 11/20/08

Michelle Malkin provides an update on Haliegh Poutre.

New Yorker blogger Hendrik Hertzberg seems to be unable to tell the difference between being descriptive and proscriptive.
What this (ed. - calling Sarah Palin’s decision to give birth to Trig a “choice”) demonstrates is that even in the minds of anti-abortion zealots, abortion is now implicitly viewed in the same light as divorce: an unfortunate choice, a reprehensible choice, a choice that may even contravene the will of God, but still a choice. And, again implicitly, the choice that Sarah Palin had every right to make. In both directions.
Uhh... what? How does the fact that prolifers recognize the reality women that can currently legally choose to have an abortionist end the lives of their unborn children mean we think that women should have the right to make that choice? I guess, according to Hertzberg attempt at reasoning, because I have a “Choose Life” sticker on my car that means I think women should be allowed to choose death.

I’m way late on this (I just got a chance to finish listening to it) but here’s a conversation/debate between Scott Klusendorf and Tony Jones regarding the election and whether it makes sense for prolifers to vote for Obama. While Tony Jones certainly seems like a nice person he really can’t square his prolife beliefs with Obama’s positions on abortion. His whole position (which is similar to Doug Kmiec’s) seems to based on some weird, incoherent faith in Obama’s ability to reduce abortions while completely ignoring Obama’s pro-abortion promises which if implemented would greatly increase the number of abortions performed in the United States.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Links 11/19/08

A Columbian woman living in Spain with tuberculosis whose airway had been damaged received a new windpipe which was created from her own adult stem cells.
A series of complex steps pushing the boundaries of medical science led to the transplant operation, performed on 12 June by Professor Paolo Macchiarini at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

A section of windpipe was taken from a female donor who had died and the trachea was stripped of its cells, leaving only connective tissue. Stem cells from Ms Castillo's bone marrow were then grown in the laboratory. Next, the donor trachea had to be "seeded" with two different kinds of cells – those made in the laboratory and those derived from tissue taken from Ms Castillo's nose and healthy airways.

The trachea graft was placed into a rotating "bioreactor" and the machine allowed the cells to migrate to the correct locations, where they began to grow naturally.

Finally the trachea, now covered in cartilage and lined with cells all bearing the patient's own genetic hallmark, was cut to shape and slotted into place. Without the pioneering operation, the lung would have had to be removed.

Today, Ms Castillo is living an active, normal life, and is once again able to look after her children, Johan, 15, and Isabella, four. Yesterday, she said: "I was scared at the beginning because I was the first patient but had confidence and trusted the doctors. I am now enjoying life and am very happy that my illness has been cured."

So far, doctors have seen no sign of her immune system rejecting the transplanted organ, even though she received no immunosuppressive drugs.
Even the New York Times had to cover this story, though not without their own added and completely unnecessary note about Obama's plan to "reverse the Bush Administration’s restrictions on stem cell research." I think they meant "the Bush Administration's federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.

Arigul Tursun, the woman in China who was almost forced to have an abortion at 6 months has been released by Chinese authorities according to ABC News. Apparently, she wasn't released because Chinese population control officials suddenly realized forcing women to have abortions is a gross violation of human rights.
The local population control committee chief reportedly said Tursun was released because "she wasn't in good enough health to have an abortion."

Both Scott Klusendorf and Ramesh Ponnuru comment on yesterday's Washington Post article on the "shift in focus" towards abortion reduction vs. banning abortion of some evangelicals and Catholics, most of whom seem to have always been more focused on abortion reduction via social programs as opposed to abortion reduction via abortion restricting legislation.

Also, how long will we told that Doug Kmiec was once denied communion for supporting Obama? Will it be in his obituary? On his tombstone?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life Links 11/18/08

Attempts to convict abortionist George Tiller for breaking Kansas law continue as former attorney general Phill Kline defends his investigation during questioning from Tiller's attorney.
Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney said Tiller's attorneys have a high burden in trying to show that Kline's conduct warrants suppression of the evidence. If they're trying to show that the prosecution of Tiller is selective, Disney said, they face the reality that Tiller is "uniquely situated" because he performs late-term abortions.

The Washington Post has a long article on how some evangelicals and Catholic (many of whom are Obama supporters) are going to try to reduce abortion by encouraging Congress to pass legislation to provide more social help to pregnant women.

The Salt Lake Tribune is has a story on a University of Utah adult stem cell clinical trial to treat patients with two types of heart failure.
The one-year Cardiac Repair Cell Treatment of Patients with Dilated Cardiomyopathy study -- the first trial of its kind in the country -- will provide "patients who have limited to no other options with a viable treatment," said Patel. "By using a patient's own cells, we eliminate the concern of rejection and the need for potentially harmful immunosuppressive drugs."

The treatment is targeted at patients with two types of heart disease. Ischemic heart disease occurs when hearts don't get enough blood and oxygen because of heart muscle damage caused by coronary artery disease. Non-ischemic heart disease describes muscle damage caused by other means, including viruses or drug use, Patel said.

A subset of these patients has dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that leaves the heart weakened, enlarged and unable to pump blood efficiently.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life Links 11/17/08

Ross Douhat and Matthew Franck both comment on Ronald Bailey’s recent piece which provides suggestions for Obama’s embryonic stem cell funding policy. Franck writes,
By contrast, the many embryos Green now wants to exploit, with federal funding authorized by President Obama, are still alive. When he says that it "is true" of these embryos as well that "the life and death decision" has already been made in their cases, he is stating the exact opposite of the truth. A decision has not been made, but must be made, and Green knows how he wants it made. He wants them destroyed, if we can only talk people into the decision.

The government of China has ordered a woman who is currently 6 months pregnant to have an abortion. If she doesn’t, they’re threatening to take her home. The woman has 2 born children.
According to the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, Arzigul and her husband, Nurmemet, fled their village when she became pregnant, but returned after officials warned their house and property would be seized if Arzigul did not have an abortion.

"We considered our two girls," said Nurmemet. "If the house and properties were taken away, how would they live? So my wife came back and went to the hospital."
ABC News has an article on the story with this chilling quote.
A nurse at the Gulja's Water Gate Hospital told RFA that Tursun is at the hospital: "We will give an injection first. Then she will experience abdominal pain, and the baby will come out by itself. But we haven't given her any injection yet—we are waiting for instructions from the doctors."

Peter Suderman suggests prolifers could make headway on the public opinion on Roe v. Wade by working harder to frame Roe as a “barrier to compromise.”

I love it when embryonic stem cell researchers make comments about how the public doesn’t understand that any treatments from embryonic stem cells are a long ways away. Here’s Theresa Gratsch from the University of Michigan’s Center for Embryonic Stem Cell Research.
"I don't think the public realizes that basic research that leads to cures takes a heck of a long time. Until now we've been working with at least one hand tied behind our back," said Gratsch. "I'm not going to say it's going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Maybe not in five years but, yes, in their lifetimes, at least certainly for my niece.
Well, the reason the public doesn’t realize it’s going to take a long time (if it happens at all) is because for the last 8 years greedy scientists have been claiming cures from embryonic stem cells are right around the corner or will happen in 5-10 years.

Reporter Mimi Hall of USA Today can’t get President Bush’s embryonic stem cell funding policy correct. She calls the policy (where about $40 million a year of federal tax dollars are spent on human embryonic stem cell research) a “a ban on government funding for research using embryonic stem cells” and writes that President Bush “imposed the funding ban during his first prime-time televised address to the nation.” One would hope Ms. Hall would have learned something about embryonic stem cell research and its funding before having this story go to print.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Abortion Rates

JT at Between Two Worlds has a helpful post on abortion rates and the myths that Clinton presidency was responsible for the lowering of abortion rates while the abortion rate rose during the Bush presidency.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Private funding drying up for embryonic stem cell research?

The Associated Press has a long article on how the daunting economic climate could effect funding for embryonic stem cell research.
But even before this fall's financial meltdown, investment in early-stage stem-cell companies was steadily declining. Venture capital investment in biotech startups — which includes stem cell developers — has fallen more than 65 percent to $443 million in the most recent quarter, from a high of $1.3 billion in late 1999.

With a deep recession on the horizon and continuing doubts about the commercial viability of stem cell therapies, analysts say startup companies will be hard pressed to get funding. While adult stem cell treatments could be approved in the U.S. within five years, analysts don't expect embryonic stem cell therapies to become available for much longer.

"Even if one of these companies was going to be successful, I doubt you'd have a new embryonic stem cell product on the market in the next 20 years," Leerink Swann analyst Bill Tanner said. "In this kind of capital market, it's just going to be a struggle for them to get funding."
The article ends by noting that drug companies could be where embryonic stem cell researchers get their money in the future.

U.S. Bishops wary of abortion legislation

The U.S. Catholic Bishops aren't going to allow the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act lying down. From the Washington Post article:
The nation's Catholic bishops Tuesday approved a statement declaring that if the Democratic-controlled Congress and the incoming Obama administration enact proposed abortion rights legislation, they would see it as an attack on the church.

The statement, to be formally issued Wednesday by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, assails the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which would remove most state and federal restrictions on abortion.

The Boston Globe article on the same meeting notes that an article by Cardinal Francis George should be on the the U.S. Bishops' website today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Links 11/10/08

The first acts of the Obama presidency? It looks like they’ll be the removal of funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell lines and allowing tax dollars to go to organizations which provide and promote abortions overseas. Not all change is good.

Wesley Smith has a piece in First Things on the assisted suicide movement.
Frustrated advocates adopted an “Oregon-plus-one” strategy, believing that if only a second state legalized assisted suicide, it would put the winds back into their sails. That theory is about to be tested.

The “future of the prolife movement” is losing personhood ballot initiatives by nearly 3-1 margins? I hope not. I also wonder on what grounds Judie Brown would oppose the Freedom of Choice Act. Since the legislation would remove the incremental restrictions to abortion which she opposes, I’m wondering why she thinks removing those “unprincipled” restrictions is a bad idea.

A woman in Florida named Stephanie Collins has been charged with murder after allegedly killing her newborn son and then throwing his body in the trash.
Investigators say 26 year old Stephanie Collins single-handedly delivered a healthy baby boy in the bathroom at her home on Rollohome Road. She then allegedly smothered it to death and dumped the body in a trash can out back.

Collins allegedly told authorities she planned the act during her pregnancy. Collins already has a nine-year-old son and has reportedly had an abortion, but told investigators she didn’t want to go through another procedure like that.
Another article notes that Collins knew about Florida’s Safe Haven law yet still decided to kill her son instead of dropping him off at a safe location.

John McCormack notes the numerous problems with the latest Palin smears printed by Newsweek. Reporters are now apparently too lazy to check if a politician is prolife or not.

The Washington Post has an article on Osiris’ two new drugs developed from adult stem cells.

Jesse Reynolds is sounding the death knell for stem cells as a political issue.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Baby/Pumpkin Blogging

The baby in her costume

This year's pumpkins. Mine on the left. The wife's on the right (if you can't tell from the poorly taken picture, it's a cat face).

Ross Douhat on Doug Kmiec

I think he pretty much hits the nail on the head.
What I don't understand at all is Kmiec's position, which seems to be that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does. I am sure that Kmiec is weary of being called a fool by opponents of abortion for his tireless pro-Obama advocacy during this election cycle, but if so, then the thing for him to do is to cease acting like the sort of person for whom the term "useful idiot" was coined, rather than persisting in his folly......

There may have been reasons for anti-abortion Americans to vote for Barack Obama in spite of his position that abortion should be essentially unregulated and funded by taxpayer dollars. But Kmiec's suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn't pass the laugh test. (And nor, I might add, does his bizarre argument that because the goal of placing a fifth anti-Roe justice on the court is somehow unrealistic, the pro-life movement should pursue a far more implausible constitutional amendment instead.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Life Links 11/6/08

JT at Between Two Worlds interviews Scott Klusendorf about prolife advocacy in an Obama presidency. I hope Scott is wrong about Obama’s ability to sell the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) to the American public.

The Americans United for Life blog breaks down how many seats prolifers have in Congress and also notes other races.

Progress using adult stem cells continues. According to the web site of the Scrip World Pharmaceutical News,
Genzyme is to pay Osiris Therapeutics $130 million upfront and up to $1.25 billion in milestones to develop and commercialise two late-stage adult stem cell treatments, Prochymal and Chondrogen, outside the US and Canada.

Prochymal, a preparation of mesenchymal stem cells formulated for intravenous infusion, is currently in two Phase III trials for graft vs host disease, a Phase III trial for Crohn's disease and Phase II trials for type 1 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Results from the Phase III trials are expected next year and a Phase II trial in acute myocardial infarction is expected to begin soon...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Sad Day for Prolifers

Last night various attempts to restrict abortion failed, Washington became the second state to legalize assisted suicide, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize the killing of human embryos for research purposes and our nation elected a candidate with a more strident pro-abortion record than any U.S. presidential candidate in history.

I hope and pray that Obama's presidency will be marked by the moderacy on abortion he conveyed to evangelical and general audiences and not the full-throated advocacy for abortion he conveyed to abortion advocates. I truly fear the legislation a heavily pro-choice House and Senate could pass and what a President Obama would sign.

Elections have consequences. I just don't want innocent human beings to be the ones who suffer them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Life Links 11/4/08

Public Discourse shares a letter Hadley Arkes wrote to a liberal student regarding abortion and infanticide.
This is a problem for liberalism. I was a liberal and a Democrat years ago, but this issue turned me, for it has to call into question everything that a liberal would claim under the name of liberalism. With this matter of abortion, the liberals have backed themselves into the old principle of the Rule of the Strong. Those who have power over others are more real than the ones who are at the mercy of their power. The interests of the strong, in this setting, claim precedence over the interests of the weak. Step by step liberals have stripped themselves of any claim to be the party of liberal generosity, expanding the circle of those who are protected. It has happened so subtly that people may not be aware of it any longer. But now we look up--as Aaron looked up--and say, in candor, Yes, that is who we are, and what we have become. We cannot tell you any longer, as Democrats and liberals, that we reject infanticide, because we cannot reject it without calling into question that which we have come to care about more than we care about anything else.

Ed Morrisey and Elizabeth Scalia have a final plea to Catholic voters.
Even beyond this, though, consider why the Church supports social-justice issues. Our faith does not emphasize fighting poverty and oppression as mere Boy Scout merit badges, or to give Catholics something to do on the weekends. The emphasis on social justice springs from the foundational belief that all human life is sacred, anointed by God for His purposes, and not ours. The need for social justice is for us to recognize the spark of divinity in all of us.
What does abortion says about human life? It reduces it to commodity, and values it based on convenience. If that is what we think about human life, then that rejects the entire idea that God created humankind at all, let alone for any divine purpose. Without that fundamental understanding of the faith, then all kinds of horrors become possible — abortion, euthanasia, genocide on massive scales, war for acquisition, and the exploitation of the poor.
Why care about the poor if humans have no divine purpose? If we can kill millions of our offspring without a second thought, why not leave the poor to their own devices? Abortion represents the ultimate rejection of God and God’s plan.....

Barack Obama - inconsistent though he be - is no Hitler, or a Stalin or a Pol Pot. However, developing a fanciful notion of Obama’s ability to do and be more than man has ever done or been before - based on nothing more than a bit of charisma and an highly overprotective press - is to surrender, rather than apply, one’s use of reason.

The Wall Street Journal has an article on Michigan's Proposal 2. Unfortunately, reporter Suzanne Sataline starts by writing,
Seven years after the ban on federal funding of further embryonic stem-cell experiments, the issue has moved onto state ballot proposals for financing and expanding this research.
Another sentence says,
Since the Bush administration banned further federal funding of stem-cell research in 2001, states have wrestled with the issue.
It would really would be nice if reporters could correctly describe Bush's 7-year-old embryonic stem cell policy. Is it really that hard? Or are journalists really that lazy and/or biased? Providing approximately $40 million in federal funds a year for human embryonic stem cell research (not to mention the additional millions in adult and animal stem cell research funding) can hardly be described as banning "further federal funding of stem-cell research."

Monday, November 03, 2008

New, misleading commercials from the Proposal 2 proponents

The “Hope” commercial says, “Yes is the only way to unlock cures thru stem cell research. For Alzheimer’s. For Juvenile Diabetes. Only yes can mean the hope of finding cures for cancer, sickle-cell anemia, spinal cord injuries.”

The “Act” commercial says, “Do you want to say yes to finding a cure to cancer? Do you want to say yes to finding a cure for Parkinson’s? Do you want to say yes to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes? Because when you vote yes on Proposal 2, that’s exactly what you’re saying.”

Words can’t describe how evil these ads are. Unfortunately, the Detroit media is so in the tank for Proposal 2, I don’t expect any outlet to call them out on these obviously deceptive commercials. Allowing the destruction of human embryos in Michigan instead of importing out-of-state cell lines isn’t the magical solutions to cancer. The folks in charge of “Cure Michigan” know Proposal 2 won’t help researchers in Michigan get anywhere closer to cures. They don’t care if they give false hope to millions of families because they really don’t care that much about people who are suffering. They just want to use them.

Look at this video message from a paralyzed young woman named Laura Jackson. This poor girl has been completely fooled into thinking Proposal 2 has the answer for her paralysis. If the people at Cure Michigan really cared about Laura they wouldn’t be filling her head with false promises and using her injury to promote their desire to experiment on human embryos.

What’s going to happen if Proposal 2 passes and the “cures” to cancer, Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson’s are no where to be found? Will Michigan residents remember how they were fooled?

Hopefully Doug Kmiec's last poor editorial defending Obama

Doug Kmiec’s latest attempt to defend Barack Obama and Obama's position on abortion is absolutely destroyed by Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis. They open by noting,
Doug Kmiec is at it again. His most recent Obama propaganda piece is titled ''Why Archbishop Chaput's Abortion Stance Is Wrong.'' As far as we can tell, Kmiec, a legal scholar who identifies as pro-life, has never written an article titled ''Why Senator Obama's Abortion Stance Is Wrong.'' We await such an article. In the meantime, Kmiec has offered a pro-Obama reply to Archbishop Chaput's wise counsel that Catholics vote with a view to securing the equal protection of the law for all people, born or unborn. Kmiec's answers to the Archbishop can be divided without remainder into three categories: the irrelevant, the false, and the fallacious.
and conclude by saying,
Professor Kmiec's response to Archbishop Chaput is a textbook study in shoddy reasoning. He has placed red herrings, baseless factual claims, and glaring non sequiturs in the service of a conclusion whose logic would be laughable if it did not threaten countless innocent lives: that the most pro-abortion politician in American history would be a blessing for the unborn. Barack Obama offers the unborn no hope to believe in but much change to deplore. Doug Kmiec offers Barack Obama cover for his assaults on the sanctity of human life.
What I found surprising was that Kmiec actually mentioned Obama’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), though in a water downed way (more on this below). I don’t recall him doing this in the past. He writes,
To conclude, let me just briefly address one further label Archbishop Chaput affixes upon Senator Obama: "the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973." While not stated explicitly by the Archbishop, such allegation is typically premised on the Senator's promise to sign the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which has been sitting around Congress for two decades or so.
Ummm... no - it’s typically premised on Obama votes against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, legislation which passed the U.S. Senate 98-0. Being in favor of legislation (and promising to sign it as your first act as president) to get rid of every state-level abortion restriction and require tax-funded abortion certainly doesn’t help. Numerous U.S. Senator and Congressmen are in favor of FOCA but only one current senator has voted against giving basic rights to infants who survive abortions.
There is much dispute over FOCA's intended effect. Its opponents (including me) argue that it will roll back important policies like waiting periods; its supporters (including the Senator) think it more a non-discrimination principle, allowing restrictions on abortion but only when they exist on other comparable medical procedures. Either way, is this an independent reason for Catholics to disregard Obama's commitment to social justice?
Could Kmiec downplay FOCA’s “intended effects” anymore? Yes, it would roll back waiting periods. It would also roll back parental consent, restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion, partial-birth abortions laws, etc., etc. Plus, the view that FOCA will roll back prolife legislation isn’t the subject of “much dispute.” It’s held by proponents of FOCA like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

A better question would be: Is the fact that Obama thinks tax dollars should fund the killing of innocent human beings be an independent reason for Catholics disbelieve Doug Kmiec’s claims about Obama’s commitment to social justice?

Hopefully, most Catholics would understand it’s tough to be committed to social justice when you think tax dollars should fund the killing of innocent human lives.
Not really. At the Democratic convention, leading members of the House and Senate publicly expressed the view that FOCA is so deeply flawed - some scholars believing it unconstitutional and most lawmakers finding it unacceptable as a matter of policy - that it will never reach the president's desk. This is a fact that has some plausibility given its history, but of course, one that may change with the composition of the new Congress. This is more fairly an issue regarding the election of others, and not primarily Obama or McCain.
Kmiec reasons away Barack Obama’s promise to sign FOCA by stating it is unlikely to reach the president’s desk. Most current lawmakers find it unacceptable but if the Democrats have large majorities in the House and Senate, “most” could become past tense. The last sentence is simply ridiculous. It’s like Kmiec thinks we should ignore Obama’s position on this issue because the legislation is supposedly unlikely to reach his desk but it should be an issue for the election of congressional candidates so we can ensure it doesn’t reach Obama’s desk. So we need a prolife Congress to make sure Obama (he of such high commitment to social justice) doesn’t get to fulfill his promise to Planned Parenthood to sign hideous legislation? I wonder if Kmiec would make the same argument for John McCain if McCain favored some legislation which, though unlikely to pass, would force taxpayers to fund spousal abuse. Probably not, eh?

There is a reason Doug Kmiec never brings up Obama’s position on tax-funded abortions in these numerous Obama-praising-editorials.

Life Links 11/3/08

Gerard Bradley discusses Barack Obama’s position on the “other life” issue: embryo-destructive research (EDR).
When we turn to EDR and take a serious look at what Obama is determined to do, we are looking into the abyss. The express and unequivocal aspiration of embryonic-stem-cell researchers is to create a bank of cell lines that are both diverse genetically (for purposes of avoiding immune-rejection issues) and disease-specific (for purposes of studying all avenues of regenerative therapies). Realizing these aspirations will require the use and destruction of millions — and perhaps tens of millions — of human embryos. All of these tiny people will be created in a laboratory, experimented upon, and killed.....

Obama also cosponsored the misleadingly titled “Human Cloning Ban Act of 2005" which, if passed, would have protected cloning for bio-medical research, and would have required the destruction of all human embryos created by cloning, subject to federal criminal sanction for failing to do so. (As a member of the Illinois state senate Obama voted against a ban on all human cloning.) Most shocking, Obama voted against a bill in the United States Senate that would have increased funding for the new forms of stem-cell research that do not require the use and destruction of human embryos, despite the extraordinary promise of that research to do what proponents of EDR have said EDR will do. It should be emphasized that Obama opposed funding this humane alternative to EDR even though the bill did not decrease or any way preclude funding for EDR.

Robert George writes about when life begins and the political opposition to admitting the obvious answer.
In view of the established facts of human embryogenesis and early intrauterine development, the real question is not whether human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages are human beings. Plainly they are. The question is whether we will honor or abandon our civilizational and national commitment to the equal worth and dignity of all human beings — even the smallest, youngest, weakest, and most vulnerable.

Wonkette has a post which disgustingly jokes about Trig Palin and abortion after his parents dressed him up for Halloween as an elephant. Wesley Smith has the details.

A doctor in the UK named Edward Erin has been charged with “attempting to unlawfully administer a poison or other noxious thing” after allegedly putting abortion-inducing drugs into his girlfriend’s drinks. The attempts happened 9 months ago and the mother gave birth to a healthy boy about a month ago.