Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack Obama's acceptance speech

Here are a few of my favorite lines from his speech last night.
Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W Bush.
So it's the government's responsibility to bail out people who buy stuff they can't afford?
But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time.
Is it 90% or 95%? Why can't the speakers at the Democratic Party convention get their statistics in order? Is this statistic for over the last 2 years or the last 8? And could someone actually explain what this statistic means. President Bush doesn't vote so McCain obviously didn't vote the same way as Bush voted. So this statistic means something like McCain has voted in favor of 90% (or 95%) of the legislation Bush has signed. Or Bush has vetoed only 10% (or 5%) of the legislation McCain voted in favor of.
For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
"Give" more? Don't you mean take less than what was being taken from them but still take a larger percentage than is being taken from those with less? This is a perfect example of how liberal and conservatives differ on how they see government. The government is not my daddy who generously "gives" me some of the money I earn as an allowance.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.
And bail us out when we buy stuff we can't afford.
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
Who my brother's and sister's keeper? Individual people or the government? Who's responsible to help them out when they're down? Their friends, family and faith community or the government?
And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
This quote is hilarious for a number of reasons - 1.) It shows how ignorant Barack Obama and his speechwriter are with regards to who the U.S. imports oil from. Of the top 15 countries the U.S. imports oil from, only 3 are in the Middle East (Saudia Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait). We get more oil from Canada and Mexico than the 3 main exporters in the Middle East. 2.)How is he going to do this? 3.) And if he can magically do this in 10 years, why not just magically do it in 5 years.

The sad part is I'm guessing McCain will make the same kind of silly promise.
John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
When he said this, I couldn't believe he would say something this stupid and that people would applaud it.
Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.
Ummm.... Didn't you just claim McCain wouldn't follow the most wanted man in world? What were you challenging there?
If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
This coming from the guy whose resume is so slim he has to take credit for legislation he didn't even vote for and whose campaign's main goal is to link John McCain with George Bush.
But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.
Yeah, and that's why Obama uttered the phrase "I will...." like umpteenth times in his speech.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life Links 8/28/08

Another cell reprogramming breakthrough is in the news. This time Harvard researchers used gene reprogramming to change one type of mice cell into another without reverting the original cell back to a pluripotent stem cell state. They used this technique to treat mice with diabetes. Another nail in the coffin of the claim that "embryonic stem cell offer the best hope."

Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to defend her pro-choice position in light of her Catholic faith continues to draw criticism from Catholic leaders and theologians.

Why was James Bopp, Jr. (he’s National Right to Life’s lawyer) opposed to changing the Republican party platform to make the platform be against killing human embryos for research? (Note: I disagree with Spruiell’s concluding assessment of the new language - the language doesn’t state opposition to research on embryonic stem cells, it states opposition to research on human embryos. This would make the Republican platform identical to Michigan’s current law which prevent killing human embryos for research but doesn’t ban human embryonic stem cell research.) UPDATE: Spruiell clears up some of Bopp's reasoning in subsequent post. Bopp was supposedly against the language because it could possibly mean the GOP was against experiments designed to help human embryos. However, staffers at the Family Research Council aren't buying it.

M.Z. Hemingway has a piece on the Democrats for Life at the Democratic National Convention and the Democratic Party Platform on abortion which I think provides a good idea of how hard it must be to be prolife Democrat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life Links 8/27/08

Ramesh Ponnuru highlights and summarizes's assessment of the National Right to Life vs. Barack Obama on Illinois' Born Alive legislation. From FactCheck:
A June 30 Obama campaign statement responding to similar claims by conservative commentator William J. Bennett says that SB 1082 did not contain the same language as the federal BAIPA....

The statement was still on Obama's Web site as of this writing, Aug. 25, long after Obama had accused his detractors of "lying." But Obama's claim is wrong. In fact, by the time the HHS Committee voted on the bill, it did contain language identical to the federal act.

Prolife Republicans are supposedly anti-science but Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats, bases her views on what happens at conception not on science or embryology but on the views of priest living in the 5th Century.

The Republican Party platform renews their opposition to abortion. The Associated Press calls their position "a hard line."

Steve Wagner on Bob Casey, Jr., Barack Obama and common good with regards to abortion:
Isn't it odd to speak of the "common good" when just this week we have heard both Barack Obama and Nancy Polosi go mute on the question of when human beings begin? What is the common good anyway, but the good of all human beings taken as a collective whole? If we can't judge who is a human and who is not, how can we discuss the good of those humans?

Ken Epp writes on his Canadian version of the Unborn Victims legislation and its opposition.
One of my most vocal critics has literally said this: “If the fetuses are recognized in this bill, it could bleed into people’s consciousness and make people change their minds about abortion.” My reaction was, “if opponents are really worried about this, their issue is not with C-484 but about protecting their ideology at all costs.” If their ideology can’t withstand people thinking about what that ideology actually involves, how secure are they in their position?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life Links 8/26/08

Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune on Barack Obama's opposition to Illinois' Born Alive legislation.
But by arguing against the born-alive legislation because it might in some distant and ambiguous way obstruct abortion, Obama implies that the right to an abortion trumps an infant's right to life, even after he is born.

Such logic is breathtaking. It says that even after birth, a mother's right to rid herself of the baby supersedes any right that a child, now independent of the mother's body and domain, has a right to live. Where America stands on this issue truly is a measure of its sense of justice and compassion. On this score, Obama fails.

Two Catholic bishops have publicly corrected Nancy Pelosi's take on the Catholic Church's position on abortion.
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and his auxiliary bishop, James Conley, said in a statement posted on the archdiocesan Web site: "Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them."

A doctor in Australia has been accused of performing an abortion around 24 weeks on mentally disabled woman who was not able to give consent.
It was also alleged during Tuesday's medical board hearing that Dr Schulberg failed to turn his mind to the fact the pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault and he did not inquire about whether police were aware of this, given the woman was incapable of consenting to sex.

It is further alleged he went ahead with the termination and, had it not been for the intervention of the Office of the Public Advocate - a body protecting the rights of people with disabilities - police may not have got the DNA necessary to charge her father.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life Links 8/25/08

According to an Indian news web site, the family of a murdered woman is accusing her in-laws of strangling her because she refused to abort her unborn daughter.

A woman in California has been charged with attempted murder after dumping her infant daughter in a garbage bin outside her home. The newborn child was found by her 11-year-old sister.

The McCain camp used his radio address to mention Barack Obama’s position on the Born Alive legislation. Jennifer Rubin has the text.

Pastor Rick Warren isn’t buying the “evangelical vote is up for grabs” storyline.
But there is a misunderstanding by the media, says Mr. Warren. "A lot of people hear [about a broader agenda] and they think, 'Oh, evangelicals are giving up on believing that life begins at conception,'" he explains. "They're not giving up on that at all. Not at all."

Andrew Sullivan links to the blog (language warning) of a woman who is planning on having an abortion at Planned Parenthood in the near future.

Hadley Arkes (the architect of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act) writes about Obama opposition to the Born Alive legislation in Illinois.
The National Abortion Rights Action League saw at once the principle that lay at the heart of the bill, which is why they opposed it when it was introduced in July 2000. Barack Obama saw precisely what those activists saw. He voted against the Born-Alive Act, as he said, because he thought it would threaten, down the line, the right to abortion. But there lies the depth of his radicalism. For the sake of protecting that right to abortion, for any reason, he was willing to withdraw even the protection usually offered by the law for children born alive. The one exception would be: the children marked for abortion. For Obama, the right to abortion is nothing less than the right to an “effective abortion” or a dead child. For all of his nimbleness and his Ivy League bearing, that is the unlovely truth of his position; the truth that the media cannot quite grasp or report.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Life Links 8/22/08

Charges have finally been filed against Michigan abortionist Alberto Hodari for improper disposal of patient records. Back in March, prolifers found the remains of aborted children along with patient records in Hodari's dumpster.
The warrant was issued on behalf of 12 patients whose records were found in the trash outside the facility by an anti-abortion group in February and turned over to police, Carley said. Documents listed birthdates and social security numbers of three patients. Others indicated the type of medical procedure, test results and drugs prescribed.

Andrew McCarthy on "Why Obama Really Voted For Infanticide?"
The shocking extremism of that position — giving infanticide the nod over compassion and life — is profoundly embarrassing to him now. So he has lied about what he did. He has offered various conflicting explanations, ranging from the assertion that he didn’t oppose the anti-infanticide legislation (he did), to the assertion that he opposed it because it didn’t contain a superfluous clause reaffirming abortion rights (it did), to the assertion that it was unnecessary because Illinois law already protected the children of botched abortions (it didn’t — and even if it arguably did, why oppose a clarification?).

What Obama hasn’t offered, however, is the rationalization he vigorously posited during the 2002 Illinois senate debate.

John McCormack reports that prolife Obama supporter Doug Kmiec didn't know in late May (or at least acted like he didn't know) Barack Obama supports using tax-dollars to pay for abortions. How could he not know that?

Dana Goldstein is still arguing Obama voted against Illinois' Born Alive legislation (without linking to the text of the bills again) because it was about partial-birth abortion. She's doing this despite the fact that Obama, his campaign and pro-choice organizations have made numerous excuses for his votes and never once have mentioned partial-birth abortion. Dana Goldstein is lost in the forest and for some reason is unable to look around and realize no one is with her. The American Prospect should be embarassed for having her on the payroll.

Japanese researchers have created stem cells from wisdom teeth. The AP article seems to indicate the cell are pluripotent and were created using 3 of the 4 genes Yamanaka's induced pluripotent technique used.

The proposal to legalize research on human embryos in Michigan will be on the ballot in November. It will be Proposal 2. So vote no on proposal 2 if you live in Michigan!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday Baby Blogging

Posing with her favorite friend

Splashing in the pool

Life Links 8/21/08

Barack Obama’s web site has now posted their defense of Obama’s votes against Illinois Born Alive legislation. As far as I can tell, it’s the same “factsheet” as the one given to CBN’s David Brody which I linked to and commented on yesterday.

It fails to ‘fess up to Obama’s years of misrepresentation regarding his excuses against voting to provide protection to infants who survive abortions. The only defense it can provide of Obama’s committee vote against the 2003 Born Alive legislation with the neutrality clause is a Planned Parenthood talking point dated before the neutrality clause was added and a note about the Illinois Medical Society’s opposition to the bill which doesn’t give a date (so you don’t know if the opposition continued after the addition of the neutrality clause).

If you want to get a slight idea of how pathetic some in the pro-choice blogosphere are, check out this piece* from the RH Reality Check’s Brady Swenson, who links to the Obama campaign’s “fact sheet” as if it somehow disproved National Right to Life claims and then intentionally attempts to mislead people into thinking Jill Stanek is now claiming her accusations against Obama opposition to the Born Alive bills were a “mistake.” The mistake in question was that Stanek previously believed Obama didn’t allow the neutrality clause amendment to be added to the legislation. Scott Swenson, also at the RH Reality Check blog, makes similar misleading accusations. *UPDATE* - Brady edited his post (though it's not completely satisfactory) after I pointed out his mistake. Scott failed to do so.

After reading this I’m beginning to wonder if pro-choice supporters of Obama are just too stupid to realize Obama has been misrepresenting himself for years or just so infatuated with him they can’t take an honest look at the evidence. Can someone be so intentionally dishonest about something that is so easily checked - Stanek’s “mistake” didn’t cite the firestorm but the correction of the “mistake” by National Right to Life and the realization and admittance by the Obama campaign that Obama has been misrepresenting the reasoning for his votes.

David Reinhard of the Oregonian isn’t buying the Obama’s ever-changing story.
Right after the Brody interview aired, the Obama camp admitted to The New York Sun that he had voted against a "Born Alive" bill with the neutrality clause. Which prompts two questions:

When will the media start chastising Obama for such fast-talking? How could Obama have voted to deny legal protection to these "born alive" babies?

Fox News has Jill Stanek’s interview with Sean Hannity from last night.

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey lays out why he thinks Obama voted the way he did.
Nowhere in this argument does Obama say, “I oppose this bill because of its companion bill,” the lame argument that has surfaced over the last 48 hours from Team Obama. He doesn’t talk about the bill’s supposed unconstitutionality. Moreover, during the presidential campaign, he said he would have supported the federal bill even though it had all of the same supposed flaws Obama argued against in this passage.

Obama protected infanticide in order to protect abortion on demand. There simply is no other explanation except abject stupidity, and this passage proves it.

The Sydney Morning Herald highlights the accomplishments of Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden, who won the gold medal in the 10K open water race. His leukemia was previously treated with a stem cell transplant.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life Links 8/20/08

Yuval Levin reads and reviews Representative Diane DeGette's book so you don't have to. It's amazing how little the chief sponsor of the bills attempting to overturn President Bush's policy on embryonic stem cell research knows about stem cell research.
This complete inability to comprehend the arguments of her opponents characterizes DeGette’s depictions of all the political struggles she describes in the book. Nowhere does she actually discuss what the other side might be arguing, or indeed what her own ethical premises might be. Indeed, she revels in her ignorance of the opposing arguments. “Because the right wing’s objections were at least consistent, I never gave them much thought,” she tells us. That much is certainly clear from the book.
Levin also dissects the various attempts to defend Obama's Born Alive votes in the recent New York Times article on the controversy.

For the Didn't-We-Already-Know-That? file - Scientific American has an article entitled "Body May Reject Transplanted Human Embryonic Stem Cells."
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that mice mounted an immune response after being injected with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The result: all the transplanted stem cells—which hold the promise of maturing into several different types of tissue—were dead within a week.....

"[This result is] not a disappointment, it's more of a reality check," Wu says. "I think there's some promise [to hESCs], but you don't want to be foolish and say these cells are going to cure things in the next five years."

Stephen Waldman has the "real story" regarding the Democratic Party's abortion plank. What I found most interesting is that the pro-choice members of the platform committee wouldn't accept language which, as Waldman puts it, "encourages and supports women who choose to have the baby" until language which "beef(ed) up" the platform's language defending legal abortion was added. Since when did it become controversial to encourage and support women who want to have a baby?

Obama's New Born Alive Excuses

It took a little while but the Obama-Born-Alive-Cover-Up story is getting some attention from mainstream media outlets including the New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

Obama's newest defense is hiding behind his children and having surrogates weakly claim the Illinois Born Alive legislation was different than the federal legislation, no longer because it supposedly lacked an abortion neutrality clause but because Illinois has an abortion law while the federal government doesn't. Here's how the AP article puts it:
The Obama campaign's explanation is that even if the federal and state versions had identical language, they would have very different consequences.

The federal government doesn't have a law regulating abortion, so Congress could pass a "born alive" measure without actually affecting anything. But Illinois has an abortion law that would be muddled by changing the definition of a person with full rights, the campaign says.
So the first excuse was the laws had different language. Now that it has been revealed that the 2003 version of the law Obama voted against had virtually identical language, the new, never-before-heard excuse from the Obama campaign is that the laws with identical languages would have had different consequences.

All you get from the Obama campaign regarding the 2003 law is a "fact sheet" which notes that a guy from the Illinois Medical Society filed a slip noting the Society's opposition to the bill and a Planned Parenthood talking point from 2003 about the Illinois Born Alive law claiming it's different because it's a state law, not a federal law. What's really interesting here is that the Planned Parenthood talking point is dated 2/28/03. That's a couple of weeks before Obama's committee voted to add the neutrality language in March of 2003. In other words, the Planned Parenthood talking point doesn't really address the amended language Obama voted against. The material from the Obama campaign doesn't mention if the Illinois Medical Society opposed the bill before or after the neutrality clause was added.

How the virtually identical language of the Illinois Born Alive legislation would have had different consequences and what those supposed consequences would be for the 1975 Illinois Abortion law isn't explained in any sensible way.

If you read the Illinois law from 1975 (which includes language from the 2005 Illinois Born Alive bill), you'll see that this explanation is even more ridiculous since the 1975 Illinois law has been amended numerous times since 1975 and it's preamble says things like,
Without in any way restricting the right of privacy of a woman or the right of a woman to an abortion under those decisions, the General Assembly of the State of Illinois do solemnly declare and find in reaffirmation of the longstanding policy of this State, that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child's right to life and is entitled to the right to life from conception under the laws and Constitution of this State. Further, the General Assembly finds and declares that longstanding policy of this State to protect the right to life of the unborn child from conception by prohibiting abortion unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother is impermissible only because of the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and that, therefore, if those decisions of the United States Supreme Court are ever reversed or modified or the United States Constitution is amended to allow protection of the unborn then the former policy of this State to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother's life shall be reinstated.

I'll be waiting for some pro-choice blogger to provide a explanation of how anyone could think the amended 2003 Illinois Born Alive law would have somehow impeded a woman's ability to obtain a legal abortion but I won't be holding my breath. As Ramesh Ponnuru writes,
So far, only the conservative blogosphere has been calling Obama on his misrepresentations of his record on the Born-Alive Bill, and on his reckless accusations against his critics. Reporters should stop carrying his water. As for his defenders in the liberal blogosphere, if they want to take up for him again I would advise them to wait a while. The campaign doesn’t yet have its story straight, and it has no room for the truth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life Links 8/19/08

National Review and David Limbaugh both urge John McCain not to pick a pro-choice running mate. David Limbaugh goes so far to call the pick of a pro-choice vice-presidential candidate "political suicide." The McCain campaign has supposedly been testing the waters by floating this idea by key Republican in various states.

Rich Lowry has a column Obama's extremism and his "mistatement" on his Born Alive votes:
Asked by Pastor Rick Warren when a baby gets rights, Obama said, “I’m absolutely convinced that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue.” This is a crashing banality couched as thoughtfulness. If Obama is so sensitive to the moral element of the issue, why does he want to eliminate any existing restrictions on the procedure?

In 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that the Freedom of Choice Act would be the first piece of legislation that he would sign as president. The act would not only codify Roe v. Wade, but wipe out all current federal, state and local restrictions on abortion that pass muster under Roe, including the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortion. This is not the legislative priority of a man keenly attuned to the moral implications of abortion.
On the Born Alive legislation controversy:
Confronted about this on CBN, he said the pro-life group was lying. But his campaign has now admitted that he had the legislative history wrong. Obama either didn’t know his own record, or was so accustomed to shrouding it in dishonesty that it had become second nature.

National Right to Life has updated their web page on Obama's attempt to cover-up his Born Alive votes.

The Wall Street Journal has an article on plastic surgeons using stem cells in cosmetic breast surgery.

Canadian and American researchers have used stem cells from human menstrual blood to treat mice whose legs had blocked blood vessels and tied nerves.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Marcotte fails miserably in her attempt to defend Obama

Not that you didn’t know it already but Amanda Marcotte’s rabid pro-choice position often prevents her from examining evidence and coming to obvious conclusions. She’s now using Dana Goldstein’s utterly pathetic it-was-really-about-partial-birth-abortion defense for why Obama voted against Illinois’ Born Alive legislation.

Never mind that Obama and his campaign have defended his Born Alive votes numerous times and have never once claimed he voted against the legislation because it would have banned partial-birth abortion. They’ve claimed it wasn’t the same as the federal bill (even though one version was). They’ve claimed it would somehow undermine Roe v. Wade and was unnecessary because Illinois law already protected infants who survive abortions. They’ve never claimed it was about partial-birth abortion because only someone too lazy to read the actual legislation would believe something that laughable.

Marcotte continues her elementary school reasoning that the Born Alive legislation was really about banning abortion because Jill Stanek is prolife and wants abortion banned. Never mind that Jill Stanek began working in the prolife movement after she blew the whistle about how Christ Hospital was letting survivors of abortion to die in a utility room. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

Compare Marcotte evidence-and-reasoning-free writing with that of David Freddoso’s piece on Obama’s Born Alive votes and you’ll wonder how any thoughtful person could actually believe Marcotte.

Speaking of infants who survive abortions...

The Jerusalem Post has a story about a child “coming back to life” after being removed from her mother after she stopped showing signs of life.
The mother, 26, from a Western Galilee village, was in the fifth month of her pregnancy when she underwent a series of tests, during which it was discovered that she was suffering from internal bleeding and that the embryo had ceased to show signs of life.

The woman underwent an abortion and the baby, weighing 610 grams (ed. - about 1.3 pounds), was extracted from her womb without a pulse, hospital officials said.

A senior doctor pronounced the baby dead and she was transferred to the cooler.

Five hours later, the woman's husband came to the hospital to take what he thought was his dead baby girl for burial.

When the baby was taken out of the cooler, she began to breathe. The premature baby was then taken to the intensive care ward, where doctors were attempting to save her life.

Obama on Abortion at Saddleback

If I were an Obama supporter, I’d be embarrassed to be supporting a candidate for president who thinks (video here) answering a question about when human rights begin is “above (his) pay grade.”

I’d also be embarrassed to support a candidate who says he is pro-choice and supports Roe v. Wade because he doesn’t “think women make (abortion) decisions casually.” How on earth does the idea that women don’t make abortion decisions casually (something most prolifers accept) translate into a reason to be pro-choice and support Roe v. Wade?

I’d be embarrassed to support a candidate who knows so little about abortion, he thinks abortions haven’t decreased since President Bush took office.

I’d be embarrassed to support a candidate who thinks that recognizing the scientific reality that the life of an individual human being begins at conception is “a core issue of faith.”

I’d be embarrassed to support a candidate who claimed an organization was lying about his votes against giving basic rights to infants who survive abortions only to have his campaign admit two days later that the candidate did indeed vote against legislation he’s been saying for years he would have voted for.

I’d be embarrassed to support a candidate whose campaign’s newest excuses for voting against giving basic rights to infants who survive abortions is completely nonsensical and very different from his original excuses for why he didn’t support the legislation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life Links 8/15/08

The Wall Street Journal's John Fund writes about Obama's misrepresentation of his votes against Illinois' Born Alive legislation.

Meanwhile, Jill Stanek notes that Obama's campaign hasn't come up with a new defense for documents showing Obama voted against legislation which was virtually identical to the national legislation.

Frances Kissling, formerly of Catholics for a Free Choice, disputes Jim Wallis' claims that the new language in the Democratic Party's platform is somehow an achievement for prolife Democrats. Her reasoning behind why Wallis is "spinning" this document doesn't make any sense (it's more likely the spinning has to do with not wanting to look like a complete failure) but I think she's right in pointing out this document is hardly a "historic step forward" for progressive prolifers.

Rekha Basu, a columnist for the Des Moines Register, writes a column on ALS and shows how utterly ignorant and lazy some journalists are regarding stem cell research.
With so little to go on, the 5,600 people diagnosed every year know only that it is a death sentence. There are clinical trials but, so far, nothing promising. There's the prospect of embryonic stem-cell surgery - once the ban on federal research on it is lifted.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reaction to the Democratic Party's new abortion plank language

The Trail (Washington Post's campaign blog) provides the old vs. the new language in the Democratic Party's platform's abortion plank and reports,
On a conference call Tuesday, a half-dozen anti-abortion pro-Democratic thinkers and religious leaders claimed victory for the party's new abortion plank, which they said took a big step in their direction by more explicitly stating the party's support for women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. By doing so, they said, the Democrats were moving closer to the middle ground where most Americans reside -- not wanting to criminalize abortions, but wanting to reduce the number performed.
Jen, a prolife liberal, who blogs at Turn the Clock Forward, believes prolife Democrats made a difference and should be proud. She writes,
Yes, the support for abortion is still there. But because of pressure from pro-lifers, there’s far more support for nonviolent options. Because of pressure from pro-lifers, the Democratic Party explicitly committed itself to supporting women’s decision to choose life....

We did this, and we should shout it from the rooftops. I’m not saying that pro-choicers don’t want to support women who carry to term, or that pro-lifers were the only ones who pushed for it. But that language wasn’t there in 2004, was it? We made the difference. There’s a lot more to do, and I don’t want to gloss over that, but let’s be proud for a moment.
Pro-choice blogger Dana Goldstein (whose ridiculous defense for Barack Obama's opposition to Born Alive legislation I previously blogged about) doesn't see it the same way,
Lastly, it's worth saying a bit more about the abortion language in the platform draft. Some conservatives are interpreting the platform's mention of adoption and a woman's right to choose motherhood as a new attempt to reach out to mixed and anti-choice Evangelical and Catholic voters. But I also think the platform is a significant victory for reproductive rights advocates. The Clintonian formula of "safe, legal, and rare" has been scrubbed. The adoption stuff is hardly new....

I simply don't see this as a modification of the party's pro-choice stance. Rather, it's a strengthening of that position and a re-articulation of the commitment to helping low-income expectant mothers.
Pro-choice feminist Linda Hirschman sees the new platform as a step forward for pro-choicers because it "offers an opportunity to put an end to this self-destructive cycle of Safe, Legal, and Rare, otherwise known as regret, depression, and self-denigration. In its place, it can finally argue for the value of women's lives."

You can read the platform language change and judge for yourselves. My feelings on the platform language change probably fall more in line with Steven Waldman, editor-in-chief at Beliefnet, who writes,
It seems to me that, on balance, if you're pro-life this platform is about the same as the 2004 platform -- slightly better in some ways and, actually, slightly worse in other ways....

Where it's worse: the platform actually drops the language from the 2004 platform that abortion "should be safe, legal, and rare." That breakthrough formulation, popularized by Bill Clinton, reiterated support for legal abortion but rhetorically endorsed the idea that society would be better off with fewer abortions. By contrast, the 2008 platform emphasizes the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies and the "need" for abortions. It's a subtle but important difference that preserves what pro-choice activists wanted: absolute neutrality on the question of whether society is better off with fewer abortions.
As long as the Democratic Party's abortion plank calls for tax-dollars to be used to pay for the abortions of poor women (an action which would drastically increase the number of abortions performed), any language calling for the number of abortions to be reduced or for abortion to be "rare" is rhetorical window dressing which means next to nothing in my book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Life Links 8/12/08

The Wall Street Journal has three articles dealing with abortion today. One on the recent attempt to outlaw abortion (with exceptions) in South Dakota. Another on the APA's upcoming report on abortion and mental health and an add-on to the article about the APA where Stephanie Simon summarizes various studies on abortion and mental health.

David Limbaugh comments on the abortion plank in the Democratic Party's platform.
This party has the temerity to pretend it is inclusive and wants to reduce abortions yet bans any dissent on the issue! It doesn't even want pro-life people in the party -- unless they stay in the closet.

The Detroit News features a story on the battle over an attempt to legalize the killing of human embryos for research.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Pagan Perspective on Abortion

The abortion providers at abortionclinicdays quote and linked to an older blog post on abortion from a pagan who thinks she’s both prolife and prochoice (she a pro-choicer who believes life begins at conception). If I didn’t know better I would think this was satirical. Some choice quotes:
Where I part company with the pro-lifers is here: it is not murder to abort a fetus. The child at that point is a spirit, not a body. It resides only occasionally in its little, developing fetus body. Mostly, it hovers in and around the mother, feeling what we feel, remembering where it’s been before, riding the changes in its consciousness and ours in a completely non-judgmental way.

When it is time to abort the fetus, I have felt the spirit around me strongly. I have said good-bye in a tender, loving, deeply grieving way. The fetus is expelled, and the spirit just drifts away. It does not die, it is not harmed. I know this to be true. It goes back to the spirit world to wait for its next opportunity to come through, hopefully richer for the experience of our having been so close for a short time.....

In a term pregnancy, usually the child’s spirit fully enters its body at birth. So from a spiritual perspective I can see why pro-choice folks rally round the credo that life begins at birth. But for me, acknowledging that life is there at conception allows me to take the pro-choice argument a step further: it is a woman’s birthright, this ability to judge which spirits pass through our wombs into life, and which pass through into death. That is part of the deal, part of the package of being born a woman.

“I experience envy.”

Some women at LiveJournal’s Abortion Info community share how after having abortions they envy other young women who have children.
For reasons known and unknown, I envy every young or semi young mother that I see.

It reminds me everyday of a baby I could have cared for and carried and showed off (as new moms often do) and in that way, I suppose it does bother me a bit.
The New Republic has a piece by Sarah Blustain on John McCain and his position on abortion. While the piece is more than a little over-the-top it does contain some worthwhile quotes from various individuals who had contact with McCain in his early political career. This piece might offer some reassurance to prolifers concerned about McCain’s position on abortion.

CNN has a commentary by Steven Curtis Chapman on adoption.

Rick Garnett provides a possible response to a Doug Kmiec question regarding why someone shouldn’t vote for Obama though I disagree with Garnett's assertion about the certainty of the Freedom of Choice Act passing.
Because Sen. Obama voted against a law banning the killing of infants that survive abortions, he voted to filibuster Justice Alito (in a context where the leading arguments against the nominee involved his vote upholding abortion regulations) and would probably nominate judges and justices who, though entirely competent and decent, would have misguided views on religious-freedom and church-state matters, he opposes school choice, he would roll back the faith-based initiative, and his election means the certain passage into law of the awful Freedom of Choice Act. He looks great when he raises his chin, and some of what he says -- when he is not thundering in support of abortion rights -- sounds nice, but that's just not enough. For me. For what it's worth. . . .

National Right to Life: Obama Misrepresenting Himself on Born-Alive Legislation

From their site:
New documents just obtained by NRLC, and linked below, prove that Senator Obama has for the past four years blatantly misrepresented his actions on the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection bill.

Summary and comment by NRLC spokesman Douglas Johnson: "Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion -- even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion. Obama's legislative actions in 2003 -- denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions -- were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress. The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose."

Here’s a link to the documents.

I think it’s time for someone in the mainstream media to do some research, actually push Obama on this issue and ask some follow up questions. To present the amendment, get it to pass unanimously, and then vote against the legislation is really inexplicable.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Life Links 8/8/08

Ryan Anderson has a piece in First Things on social conservatives and Mike Huckabee that is certainly worth the read.
To start with, he ran his campaign solely on religious identity politics. If Giuliani never effectively reached out to socially conservative Christians, Huckabee never effectively reached beyond them. He continually told evangelical Christian audiences to support him because he was one of them. Everyone else got the message, too.....

Rather than argue that abortion is contrary to God’s law and that we need to bring the Constitution into conformity with God’s law, social conservatives should argue that as a matter of scientific fact the child in a mother’s womb is a whole, living human being, and that as a matter of moral truth the direct killing of any peaceable human being is gravely unjust.

The New Republic has a story by Eric Zimmerman on prolife Democrats.

According to the blog of the Heath and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, it appears a draft of regulations to protect the conscience rights of medical practitioners (which has received a hysterical response by pro-choice bloggers and organizations) was drawn up in response to an anti-conscience rights push by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Michael Novak in the National Review on left-leaning Catholics and abortion.
Despite the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger, not to mention John Paul II, forcefully reminded Catholics of their duty not to cooperate with the evil of abortion, many Catholic leftists continue to cite the same American bishops who were rebuked by the cardinal and the pope. Why, moreover, do these leftists argue from “the consistent ethic of life”? Under the flag of “consistency” they are able to put virtually every issue dear to them on the scales. The result is to downgrade the real, distinctive, sui generis evil of abortions, which are now performed at a rate of about 1.1 million a year. They put equal emphasis on capital punishment and the “unjust war in Iraq” — the very thing Cardinal Ratzinger said they cannot in good conscience do.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I bet someone at National Right to Life is really regretting publishing this article on John McCain back in 1999.

HT: Daily Kos

More disease-specific iPS cell lines

Harvard researchers have now created 20 different disease-specific induced pluripotent stem cell lines. From the story:
U.S. stem cell experts have produced a library of the powerful cells using ordinary skin and bone marrow cells from patients, and said on Thursday they would share them freely with other researchers.

They used a new method to re-program ordinary cells so they look and act like embryonic stem cells -- the master cells of the body with the ability to produce any type of tissue or blood cell.

The new cells come from patients with 10 incurable genetic diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's, the paralyzing disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, juvenile diabetes and Down's Syndrome.

Meanwhile, George Daley has joined Kevin Eggan on the "we'll say ridiculous crap about cloning" train.
While the cells are an alternative to the more controversial embryonic stem cells, taken from a human embryo, Daley and Melton are adamant that they do not replace them.

For one thing, viruses are used to carry the transformative genes to make the iPS cells. Daley says cloning technology is still superior. "The egg does it faster and better," he said.
What???? So says the guy who doesn't have a single stem cell line created from a cloned human embryo. It's going to start to get real hard for human cloning proponents like Daley and Eggan to not get laughed when they continue to act like human cloning experiments are still worthwhile.

Also of note, the Washington Post write-up has a quote from Doug Melton saying the cell will be provided to researchers "virtually free."

Life Links 8/7/08

In the Mercury News, Patty Fisher argues that an attempt to enact parental notification in California is problematic because the initiative is named after a 15-girl from Texas who was in a common-law marriage. She then goes on to claim pro-choicers could tell their own stories like the one about “The Indiana girl who died from an illegal abortion because she was afraid to tell her parents.”

Except that “Indiana girl” is Becky Bell and her tragic death wasn’t from an illegal abortion. What’s amazing is for all the talk pro-choicers make about how dangerous parental involvement laws are, I’ve never seen them come up with one actual case where a minor was killed by an illegal abortion because she didn’t want to tell her parents.

In the Ottawa Citizen, Margaret Somerville shares the story of a pregnant woman who is carrying a child who supposedly has a number fatal abnormalities.
As I am writing this letter, the little one in my womb is moving around, kicking his mother, and hopefully enjoying a refreshing swim. I am told that he knows no pain, and that while he is in the uterus, he is as safe as can be. I walk him every day, talk to him often, and pray for him always. I tell you this because I want you to know that, despite the grim outlook described above, I am carrying this baby as long as he will let me, and will not be the killing hand. After his birth, if he lives longer than a few days, my husband and I will let ourselves be advised by doctors, but do not intend to extend extraordinary means to keep our little one alive (as hard as that will be). Our prayer is simple: That we will get to meet our little one, tell him that we love him, and watch him fall deep into a sleep that will bring him to heaven.

The New York Times has an article on the how Obama’s position on abortion will weigh on the minds of Catholics in the presidential election.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Life Links 8/6/08

Joseph Dellapenna notes the attempts to recycle abortion history myths in First Things.

According to the California Catholic Daily, an abortion provider in California named Howard Pfupajema was arrested after assaulting a local prolifer who was taking pictures of him.

The AP has an article on the recent news of commercial dog cloning by South Korean researchers.
According to a report released by The Humane Society in May, 3,656 cloned embryos, 319 egg donors and 214 surrogates were used to produce just five cloned dogs and 11 cloned cats who were able to survive 30 days past birth.

Michael New has a piece in the National Review on two separate prolife goals, preventing abortions and building a culture of life.
Most of the time, the twin goals of protecting the unborn and building a culture of life reinforce one another. On occasion, though, they appear to contradict each other.

A Michigan woman has been sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation after causing the death of her newborn child (she pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide). The body of the baby boy was found in a trash can at a hotel. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. There are some background details in the Watertown Daily Times.

Monday, August 04, 2008

What is it they say about great minds?

Ramesh Ponnuru echoes some of my thoughts about William Saletan’s distaste for South Dakota’s informed consent law.
It’s actually a little hard to tease out Saletan’s argument. As far as I can make out, he has two objections to the word “separate” in the required message. First, he does not consider the embryo “separate” because, for example, it is implanted in and nourished by a mother’s womb. But obviously the word “separate” has multiple meanings; there is no contradiction or even tension in saying that an embryo is a being separate (=distinct) from the mother while also being within her.

Indian Court Denies Abortion at 25 Weeks

The Bombay High Court in India has denied a couple permission to abort their 25-week unborn child. Niketa and Haresh Mehta petitioned the court for an abortion after their child had been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition which will require the child to have a pacemaker. In a paper submitted to the court, a panel of three doctors found the child would have “least chances” (I’m guessing this means low chances) of being born handicapped or incapacitated.

According to the Times of India, numerous organizations have offered to help the Mehtas care for their child, including an offer to pay for the pacemaker. The Mehtas, however, seem more focused on getting rid of India’s late-term abortion restrictions.

The Truth on Obama and Infanticide Doesn’t Matter to Media Matters

The front page of Media Matters is linking to this page which claims Jerome Corsi is making false claims regarding Barack Obama’s position on legislation designed to protect children who survive abortions. Here’s their incredibly weak defense for Obama’s actions:
In making the false assertion about Obama's position -- Obama has of course never supported giving people the right to kill their children -- Corsi was also misrepresenting the legislation to which he was referring, a bill amending the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. Opponents of the bill said the legislation was unnecessary as the Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibits killing children, and said that it posed a threat to abortion rights.

So because opponents of the legislation disagreed with the legislation, that’s somehow evidence that Jerome Corsi isn’t telling the truth?? Great research there, huh?

These Media Matters staffers can’t get away from the shrines to Obama long enough to know that Obama voted multiple times on multiple attempts to insure abortion survivors were given basic rights. It wasn't just one bill, it was multiple bills over multiple years. They also seem unaware that the Illinois Born-Alive law was passed in 2005 and didn’t do anything to effect whether abortion was legal or not in Illinois.

Considering other lame attempts to defend Obama on this issue, I’m not surprised.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Another iPSC advancement

from researchers at Harvard and Columbia:
While scientists had already used these reprogramming techniques to create stem cells from skin cells, this is the first time that these cells--called induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS cells--have been generated from a patient. The ability to do so is key to creating models for studying complex genetic diseases, such as Alzheimer's. The findings also confirm that it's possible to use reprogramming techniques in older people and in those with a serious disease. "It was unclear if the fact that the patient had been sick for many years would interfere with our ability to reprogram [the cells]," says Eggan.
Sadly, Kevin Eggan is still under the delusion his failed attempts at creating cloned human embryos and killing them for their stem cells is the "gold standard" for stem cell work, according to the Boston Globe.
When they began working on the experiment more than two years ago, Eggan's team had planned to use somatic cell nuclear transfer, a technique that involves taking human eggs, removing the genetic material inside, and replacing it with genetic material from a patient. Eggan says such work is still crucial, and his laboratory continues to work on that technique, which is considered the "gold standard" for stem cell work. But because of legislation restricting scientists from paying women for their eggs, only one woman has donated her eggs, he said.
How is possible that a technique which hasn't created a single cell line, is incredibly inefficient, and will never treat millions of patients because of the lack of willing egg donors is the "gold standard" for stem cell research especially considering how quickly and easily his lab was able to generate patient specific induced pluripotent stem cells?

Gold standard? No. Somatic cell nuclear transfer isn't the Lexus of stem cell research. It's more like the 1992 Ford Taurus whose transmission has blown up for the second time. Maybe Kevin Eggan likes trying to figure out how to fix things which don't work but he shouldn't act like his preference for trying to solve difficult problems is "crucial" when an easier, quicker, less morally divisive, more affordable technique exists.