Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stem Cell Bait and Switch

The National Right to Life Committee has sent this letter to members of Congress warning that legislation could be introduced in April which would allow the federal funding of research on human embryos who were created for research and human cloning for research.
Quite likely, the forthcoming legislation will contain some language that at first glance appears similar to that quoted above from 2007's S. 5, authorizing N.I.H. to fund research on IVF-created embryos “in excess of the clinical need”-- but the bill will be crafted in such a manner that this “surplus embryo” language is a license but not a limitation. We expect that the bill will also contain language that effectively will give the director of NIH broad authority to sponsor research that depends on the killing of human embryos created specifically for research, including human embryos created by cloning. Such an empowerment clause could, for example, take the form that is already found in Congresswoman DeGette’s H.R. 872, which would spell out certain “guidelines” for NIH funded embryonic stem cell research, but which also confers on the director of NIH the authority to “update the guidelines” in any manner he sees fit, whenever he “determines that such updates are scientifically warranted.” H.R. 872 mandates such unconstrained “updates” at least every three years but authorizes them to occur more frequently, at the discretion of the NIH director.....

We expect that the legislation now being prepared may combine a phony “ban” on human cloning, similar to the rejected H.R. 2560, with the language giving NIH expansive authority to conduct stem-cell research using human embryos of all kinds, both “leftover” and created for research, whether created by IVF, human cloning, or other laboratory methods.

Life Links 3/31/09

The Manchester Evening News has a story on one of those great, women-respecting physicians who help with abortions.
THREE women were sexually abused during abortions by an anaesthetist, a jury has heard.

Dr Narendra Sharma allegedly used the hands of the sedated patients to perform obscene acts on himself in the operating theatre.

He was arrested after medical staff at the Marie Stopes International Clinic in Manchester raised the alarm.

Adult stem cells have been used to reduce pain and increase the ability to exercise in patients with angina.
Six months later, people who'd had their own stem cells injected into their heart muscle were able to walk longer on a treadmill than the others. It also took longer until they experienced angina pain while walking on the treadmill, and the pain went away faster once they rested than it did in those who'd gotten a saline injection. The stem cell group also had fewer episodes of chest pain.

Amy Welborn notes the election of abortion advocate Katherine Ragsdale as the dean of The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge.
What has always puzzled me about the Christian abortion advocate is how two positions can be held simultaneously: 1) The position that God calls each of us by name, brought us each into existence in a specific, loving act of creation, treasured just as we are and 2) this same God is either indifferent or enthused when the currette comes for the helpless one that has been, you know...loved into existence and is treasured just as she is...

Politico has an article on the reaction of abortion advocates to Virgina Governor Tim Kaine signing a bill to allow prolife license plates.

Francis Beckwith talks about the Obama/Notre Dame controversy with Christianity Today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trying to get Ann Coulter to apologize for her endorsement of Mitt Romney

is apparently part of American Right to Life’s plan to end abortion in America in 12 years (or is it down to 10 or 11 by now?).

I just don’t understand the point of spending time attacking Ann Coulter’s endorsement of Mitt Romney more than a year after Romney dropped out of the Republican primary.

Does this argument make any sense?

Jessica at Feministing posts a video of Feminists for Life speaker and former “card carrying member of NARAL” Karen Shablin and argues that Shablin is underestimating women because she thinks abortion is misguided.
Frankly, it seems like it's Shablin herself who underestimates women: she calls the decision to have an abortion "misguided," and conflates her own beliefs with all women's.
Now this puts Jessica’s argument in a rather precarious position. If claiming a woman’s belief on an issue is misguided means that you’re underestimating them then isn’t Jessica underestimating Shablin when she claims Shablin’s views are misguided?

Jessica then shares her opinion on whether prolifers can be feminists.
And that's where the question of 'can a feminist be pro-life' comes in. I believe that women can be personally pro-life and be feminists. I don't think, however, that women who fight to limit other women's reproductive choices are anywhere close to being feminist.
This coming from the person who claims Shablin is "conflating her beliefs with all women's."

Life Links 3/30/09

Harry Reid and his staff might want to confer about Reid’s position on the abortion issue because according to John McCormack, they don’t seem to be on the right page unless the term “prolife” has completely bereft of meaning.

Wesley Smith notes legislation in California which could force medical personnel to share information with patients regarding abortion.
The latest example of such legislation is SB 374 in California, that would make it a crime not to provide patients with information about the legality or availability of abortion, and which could also be grounds for stripping the doctor or nurse practitioner of their license to practice. Worse, if the professional has a conscience objection, he or she must still participate in ensuring that the patient receives detailed information about deciding whether or not to have an abortion.

The LA Times has an editorial by Michael Hiltzik citing the numerous problem plaguing California’s embryonic stem cell agency created by Proposition 71.
With the change of administrations in Washington and the deterioration in the state's fiscal health, the time has come for a fundamental rethinking of the stem cell program. The debate over its future has to take place in the context of the state's overall needs, not merely among a small group of self-interested board members.

Proposition 71 endowed the program with what looked like an embarrassment of riches. The danger is that, without better oversight and broader debate about its policies and goals, it will become simply an embarrassment.

A jury found abortion George Tiller not guilty after a lackadaisical prosecution but he’s not in the clear just yet. The Board of Healing Arts is dealing with a complaint which could cost him his medical license.
The complaint before the board covers the same allegations for what appears to be 11 of the abortions addressed by the criminal case. The complaint also accuses Tiller of unprofessional or dishonorable conduct or incompetence and says he and Neuhaus had a "symbiotic relationship."

Governor Kathleen Sebelius did end up signing prolife legislation in Kansas. I guess who could consider this silver lining in Obama appointed her to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. I don’t doubt for an instant she would have vetoed this legislation if going before a Senate panel wasn’t in her future. But what will the response of pro-choice bloggers be?

Prolifers in Spain rallied en masse against plans to liberalize the nation’s abortion laws.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Baby Blogging

Is it me or does my daughter look like the Joker in this picture with chocolate pudding replacing the red lipstick?

Human iPS cells created without using viruses

From the story:
A team at the University of Wisconsin said they made the so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, from human cells without using viruses or exotic genes, which leave behind genetic material that might pose risks if the cells were used as medical therapies.

James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, whose study appears in the journal Science, said the finding represents the first time researchers have made human induced pluripotent stem cells without inserting potentially problematic new genes into their DNA....

Thomson said the new method uses a circle of DNA called a plasmid, which carries the genes needed to transform a skin cell into an iPS cell.

Over time, the plasmid disappears naturally from the cell population, avoiding the danger posed by using viruses, which can insert harmful genes into the cells' genetic material.

"That means they are less likely to form tumors, less likely to destroy the function of some important gene," Thomson said in a telephone interview.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Abortionist George Tiller = Martin Luther King Jr. ?

Jacob M. Appel does it again in a letter to the LA Times.
The Times' article on the upcoming trial of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller certainly conveyed the animosity that abortion opponents feel toward his work, but I am not sure it captured fully the degree to which abortion-rights supporters, such as myself, hold him in esteem.

To many progressive Americans, George Tiller is a genuine hero who ranks alongside Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. in the pantheon of defenders of human liberty.

Although one need not agree with this assessment of Tiller, the intensity of this brave man's support among his admirers should not be underestimated.

Jacob M. Appel

New York

The author teaches bioethics at New York University.

I wonder if Appel has ever heard of Christin Gilbert.

HT: The BlogProf

Still so sad

A pro-choice woman who had an abortion more than 5 years ago shares how she is feeling after recently giving birth (my emphasis).
I had a twin pregnancy terminated five years and three months ago and I am still having trouble forgiving myself. It must have been the right thing to do, and it certainly has not changed the way I feel about women's right to chose. But...

No amount of reasoning seems to work in convincing myself that my arguments were sound. It's way, way, WAY past time I realized that my life has moved on. I'm no longer unemployed, or homeless, or self-injuring, or with a partner who is permanently disabled and is depressed and self-injures. I'm with a new (fantastically stable and wonderfully caring) partner, I have a newborn, I have a decent little flat and a permanent job and another three months fully paid maternity leave and I play a sport on a daily basis and have several hobbies that interest me. But I still cannot move on.

I spent the entire pregnancy just thinking about the last time I was pregnant (before the abortion). And how that time I had felt so excited even though I new what I was going to do. I spent this entire pregnancy hiding it from friends, family, work and avoiding talking about it, avoiding anyone with babies or anything on tv with babies or children or pregnant women. Even when I got to the point where it wasn't feasible to hide it I still forbade the father to be excited about it around me. I don't have a problem being responsible; I was well prepared practically speaking and have definitely not got post natal depression. I just never ever felt the least bit of enthusiasm for the experience or what lay ahead. Just direction-less anger. Like, I can't allow myself to be happy about this? Even now, whenever I have a quiet minute, on almost a daily basis, my head is just reliving the abortion. Reliving the arguments in my head, and how it felt and everything they said to me at the time and how I felt straight afterwards. The procedure itself wasn't completely straightforward, and the people-skills of some of the staff members was bad enough that after having complained I received a formal apology.

Just hating every minute of being alive and wanting to undo everything. I'm punishing myself, but in aid of what I don't know. I thought that giving birth and deciding 'the other way' would help me think about something else but it hasn't.

Abortion TV ads?

According to Bloomberg, the United Kingdom is considering allowing abortion providers to advertise their services on television. The changes to the television codes would also "loosen" rules on condom ads.
Marie Stopes International, Britain’s largest independent pregnancy-advisory service, said it would consider advertising on TV.

“It isn’t about promotion, it’s about raising people’s awareness,” said spokeswoman Emily James in a telephone interview.
Telegraph blogger Ed West isn't buying the idea that this kind of advertising is going to lower the UK's high teen pregnancy rate.
These abortion adverts are supposed to combat our teenage pregnancy rate, currently six times neighbouring Holland's, but will only have the reverse effect. The Government has already spent a fortune combating unwanted pregnancy these past dozen years, making abortion and contraception ever easier and looking surprised when the pregnancy rate fails to fall or even goes up.....

The easier the authorities make contraception and abortion, the more teens will have sex, and the more unwanted pregnancies there will be. I don't care what teenagers get up to, as long as they stay away from my car, but the Government cannot separate sex from pregnancy. They can barely run the economy, let alone change the laws of biology.

Life Links 3/26/09

Members of the President's Council on Bioethics have published a statement on President Obama's stem cell decision and correcting various errors in Obama's statements on stem cell research.

Have a problem with abortion? Don’t become a OB/GYN. That’s what UCLA law professor Julie Cantor argues in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial (my emphasis).
Medicine needs to embrace a brand of professionalism that demands less self-interest, not more. Conscientious objection makes sense with conscription, but it is worrisome when professionals who freely chose their field parse care and withhold information that patients need. As the gatekeepers to medicine, physicians and other health care providers have an obligation to choose specialties that are not moral minefields for them. Qualms about abortion, sterilization, and birth control? Do not practice women's health.

A coroner in the UK is publicly criticizing abortion provider Marie Stopes after a “15-year-old schoolgirl died from toxic shock syndrome just days after having a termination.”
Coroner Roger Whittaker said he would be writing to the sexual health organisation after it was revealed Alesha Thomas was never given a prescribed course of antibiotics, which would have saved her life....

An hour and 20 minutes after the operation the doctor issued an electronic prescription for the teenager to be given a course of prophylactic antibiotic, Doxycyline, to prevent infection. But unbeknown to him, Alesha, from Huddersfield, had already been discharged from recovery - 45 minutes after the operation.

The hearing at Huddersfield Coroner's Court was told the organisation had no system in place for nurses to re-check a patient's notes after they had been discharged to make sure all instructions had been followed.

Wesley Smith comments on the latest “feed me” editorial in Nature and their call to get rid of the Dickey Amendment.
See, the assurances--oft stated--that all "the scientists" want are "leftover" embryos that were "going to be destroyed anyway" was always hogwash, part of a sophisticated propaganda campaign intended to unfetter biotech from any meaningful limitations on the instrumental use of nascent human life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life Links 3/25/09

Last night, towards the end of President Obama's press conference, Jon Ward from the Washington Times asked Obama an excellent question on stem cell research which Obama didn't seem prepared for. I was going to comment on Obama's response but both Yuval Levin and Wesley Smith have provided excellent comments. The only thing I would add is this seems to be another case where Obama feels he can make a number of claims about his policy which are wholly untrue because he knows the vast majority of the American public are too lazy to check the facts.

When I read Jill Stanek's piece on IVF in USA Today, I didn't say anything but I felt that something was amiss. It just wasn't the type of piece I expected from her. She explains why in her column today entitled, "How USA Today used me (and I let it)." Here's her original piece which was rejected.

The Associated Press has an article whose thesis is that the downturn in the economy means that more women are having abortions. I found this quote from a Planned Parenthood employee to be odd:
Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said the recession clearly was a factor behind the rising abortion numbers late last year at the six clinics she oversees.

"Unfortunately we see women who are making decisions about terminating a pregnancy because of the severe economic crisis they're facing," she said. "They simply don't believe they can afford to bring another child into the world."
But hasn't the belief that they can't afford a child been one of top reasons women have been giving for years to explain their abortion decision? Why would Planned Parenthood, which thinks any reason for having an abortion is legitimate, suddenly find this unfortunate?

In Missouri, pro-choice legislators filibustered an informed consent bill with ultrasound viewing which also made it illegal to coerce a woman into having an abortion.

Dr. Gene Davenport, professor of religion and chairman of the religion department at Lambuth University, needs to find an embryology textbook and read it before writing a column ignorantly claiming, "The fact is that neither science, medicine, nor religion gives us a verifiable answer as to when a cell or a collection of cells becomes a human being."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Links 3/24/09

William McGurn has a column on Notre Dame inviting President Obama to be their commencement speaker.
In the end, the result is moral incoherence. It is an incoherence in which abortion-rights advocates have the most to gain, because it demoralizes those who support the cause of life while removing fears of even the slightest social sanction for those who do not. And it is an incoherence we see all across American Catholic life today.

In our intellectual life, this incoherence gives us a college president who tells the campus paper that honoring an abortion-rights president is consistent with the bishops' statement that such leaders "should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

In our public life, it has brought us to a day where the most prominent Catholics in America -- from Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to virtually every well-known Irish Catholic in the Senate -- now defend the snuffing out of tens of millions of innocent human lives as the exercise of a fundamental right.

The National Review has a symposium on this subject as well.

Jacob Appel, a writer who favors legal abortion, continues to take the presuppositions of the pro-choice ideology to their logical conclusions when he writes, "It's Time for an Abortion Pride Movement."
While choosing to terminate may be difficult for women under many circumstances and for many reasons, if they have made the correct choice for themselves, they should be proud that they have done so. And our society should be proud of them too. Our message should not be merely toleration or resigned acquiescence, but genuine joy that someone has made a decision for their own and for the collective good.

Testimony in the trial of late-term abortionist George Tiller has begun.
Kristen Neuhaus, who ran a practice in the Lawrence area, said she only came to Wichita to do consultations at Tiller's clinic once a week for half a day.

"I wouldn't call that full-time," Neuhaus said.

When prosecutor Barry Disney asked why she told another assistant with the Kansas Attorney General's office in 2006 that she worked full-time for Tiller, Neuhaus said she misspoke.

A woman in England who was advised to have an abortion by doctors because they misdiagnosed her unborn child with deadly condition is speaking out after giving birth to a healthy baby boy.
“Many people would have taken the doctors’ advice and never have known they had aborted a healthy child. It is only because of our determination to have another child that our son is with us today.

“We are really shocked that the experts we trusted got this so badly wrong – if we had listened to the doctors our son would not be with us today - and we think its important to let other people know they don’t always get things right.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is classic

Abortion advocates have come up with numerous reasons for why prolife laws which restrict abortion and have lowered abortion rates need to be junked, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this one before.

Melanie Zurek, Executive Director of the Abortion Access Project (AAP), and Courtney Jackson, Research and Evaluation Director of the AAP, argue that we have to get rid of all prolife laws which restrict abortion and increase the “availability” of abortion in order “to use the abortion rate as a valid indicator of success at preventing unintended pregnancy.”

Zurek and Jackson also say that we should accept an increase in the abortion rate at first in order to obtain what they seem think is the greater good of using the abortion rate as a valid indicator of the success of preventing unintended pregnancies.

Life Links 3/23/09

A woman in Florida has been arrested after giving her teenage daughter (who was 6 months pregnant) pills to cause an abortion and then throwing the child in the garbage after the birth.
The daughter told police she gave birth two weeks ago over a toilet. Rainey later said she placed the infant in a bag and dumped the body in the garbage. Rainey said the infant was born dead, but her daughter claimed she saw it breathing.
More information including the judge’s strong reaction here.

Robert George continues the good work of trying to get Doug Kmiec to admit what President Obama’s position on cloning is. Kmiec’s first three answers to George’s questions in the last segment are ridiculous and saddening.

Apparently, the people in charge of an abortion clinic in Maine think signs which read “Choose Life” and “Pray to End Abortion” are “graphic” and “inflammatory.” - HT: 40 Days for Life

Timothy Collins, MD, asks why Obama is opposed implanting cloned human embryos.
Just as the original class of unperson could be destroyed for any reason or no reason at all, this new class can also be destroyed for the supposedly laudable goal of "medical science." Which brings me, at long last, to the original non sequitur of the President's statement. Why is it laudable to destroy embryos for medical research, but not laudable to grow those embryos, or clone those embryos, for other uses? After all, it is hard to imagine a human being more qualified to be an unperson than a fetus cloned in a lab. Yet the President is silent on this conundrum.

The Daily Mirror, an LA Times blog, looks back at the abortion death of a young girl from 50 years ago.
Half a century cannot dull the tragedy.

Her name was Brenda. When they found her lying in the grass outside St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank they guessed she was 21, but she was only 16. A man called to say she was there. He didn't give his name.

In rural Wisconsin, girls may be using prostaglandins for cow breeding to have abortions.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Baby Blogging

Pointing to her teeth

Showing off those legs of steel

Getting Obama out of the gutter

His joke regarding his bowling ability and the Special Olympics isn't going to help him. Attempts to defend the joke aren't going to help much either.
Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president's offhand remark was not meant to disparage the Special Olympics, only to poke some fun at the commander-in-chief's bowling skills.
So he's poking fun at his bad bowling by comparing his bowling to the bowling of individuals with disabilities? And how exactly does that make the joke less offensive?

What's also interesting is that Obama's high score of 129 is lower thanthe average scores of a few local level Special Olympic bowlers from Plano, Texas who bowled more than 10 games.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life Links 3/19/09

Lila Rose and her crew at Live Action Films have another undercover video showing Planned Parenthood employees (this time in failing to report statutory rape.
After Stollar explains that her boyfriend is "a lot older than me," a staffer at the first clinic states: "we don't ask any questions." At the second clinic, upon hearing that the boyfriend is 27-years-old, the employee reassures the girls that "everything is confidential." She also tells the girls she will not intervene: "I can't say 'Don't' you know or 'I'm gonna go and do this.' I cannot be that way, it's not me."

Both Wesley Smith and Rebecca Taylor comment on a recent column by Jacob Appel in the Huffington Post where he argues that we should create a legal market of the organs of aborted children to be bought and sold for transplants and that we could even encourage women to prolong their pregnancies to get their unborn children to the stage necessary where their organs would be more usable. He writes,
The first striking feature of fetal organs is that their supply, for all practical purposes, is unlimited. Unlike living kidney donors, who must then advance through life with only one functioning kidney, pregnant women who provide fetal kidneys could do so repeatedly without incurring the medical consequences of adult organ loss. When overseen by properly-trained physicians, abortion is an extremely safe procedure -- even safer than delivering an infant at term. Since far more women have legal abortions each year in the United States than would be required to clear organ wait-lists, if only a small percentage of those women could be persuaded to carry their fetuses to the necessary point of development for transplantation, society might realize significant public health benefits. The government could even step into the marketplace itself to purchase fetal organs for patients on Medicare and Medicaid, ensuring that low-income individuals had equal access to such organs while keeping the "asking price" elevated.
Smith thinks Appel is intentionally saying radical things in an attempt to draw attention to himself as a business model and Taylor wonders if he's psychotic or a closet prolifer. I think Appel is merely following the presuppositions of the pro-choice ideology to one of its many horrifying logical conclusions. If women have the unmitigated right to kill their unborn children, then why shouldn't they have the right to gain possession of the remains of those children and do with those remains what they choose. It's their body, their choice, right? I struggle to see how a pro-choicer could hold on to the presuppositions of the pro-choice position and logically disagree with Appel's view.

David Gushee, a self-described centrist evangelical and Obama supporter, calls on President Obama to do more than just talk about how he wants to reduce abortions.
Mexico City, conscience clause, Sebelius, embryonic stem cells. In each case, I have been asked by friends at Democratic or progressive-leaning think tanks not just to refrain from opposing these moves, but instead to support them in the name of a broader understanding of what it means to be pro-life. I mainly refused.

But I do confess that my desire to retain good relationships with the Obama team has tempted me to give what was asked in return for the big payoff of a serious abortion-reduction initiative that I could wholeheartedly support.

A woman on a airplane from Samoa to New Zealand, apparently gave birth in bathroom and threw the baby in the bathroom trash bin. The baby, who is alive, was only discovered about an hour after the airplane landed. But get this note at the end of the story:
Pacific Blue's website says women need medical clearance to board a flight if they have passed the 36-week mark in their pregnancy.

"We are relieved to have been informed that both mother and child are reunited, are well and are now being looked after in hospital," the airline said in a statement.
Reunited? As if someone stole her baby. Is the proper response to a woman throwing her infant in the trash, reuniting her with the child?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life Links 3/18/09

What's a "personally pro-life" yet radically pro-choice governor to do? The Kansas legislature has passed a bill to amend their informed consent legislation to require abortion providers to allow women considering abortions to view an ultrasound image of their child and hear his or her heartbeat if they want. The bill also requires abortion providers to post a notice that it is illegal to force women to have abortions. The bill is now on Governor (and DHHS Secretary nominee) Kathleen Sebelius' desk. If Kathleen Sebelius vetoes this bill, how will Catholics United and Doug Kmiec defend her?

Speaking of Kmiec, Dan Gilgoff has the first two parts of an e-mail exchange between Kmiec and Robert George regarding Obama position on the creation of cloned human embryos for research. Kmiec wasn't even aware of Obama's position on this issue (even though during the election season his critics noted it numerous times).

In a long piece at the RH Reality Check blog, Jodi Jacobson attempts to argue that the "compromise position" on abortion is the position of the Democratic Party Platform. There are so many other ridiculous assertions in this piece it would a take a week to compile them all.

Seriously, where does RH Reality Check find these people?

Dinesh D'Souza writes in Christianity Today how Peter Singer's views in favor infanticide may make him one of the only intellectually honest atheists.
Why haven't the atheists embraced Peter Singer? I suspect it is because they fear that his unpalatable views will discredit the cause of atheism. What they haven't considered, however, is whether Singer, virtually alone among their numbers, is uncompromisingly working out the implications of living in a truly secular society, one completely purged of Christian and transcendental foundations. In Singer, we may be witnessing someone both horrifying and yet somehow refreshing: an intellectually honest atheist.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life Links 3/17/09

Josh Brahm dutifully chronicles the "9 Things the Media Messed Up About the Obama Stem Cell Story" at the Right to Life of Central California's web site.

Christianity Today has an editorial on Obama's supposed efforts to reduce abortion entitled, "Reducing Abortion for Real."
Obama is suggesting that abortion is a human need, which can be reduced but never eliminated. He is suggesting that we all will "support" (meaning affirm the decisions of) women and families, even if they abort a child. He assumes that we all can unite, as he said in his Roe anniversary comment, "to ensure that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons," suggesting that abortion is not just a need but also a right.

It's savvy rhetoric precisely because it is so subtle. It quietly isolates pro-life advocates (who now appear extremist) while appealing to those who are tired of the abortion debate (with calls to reduce abortion).

In an editorial, Archbishop Joseph Naumann carefully explains why he asked Governor Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from presenting herself for communion. The Kansas City Star titles his editorial, "Archbishop Naumann attacks Sebelius over abortion."

At the Huffington Post, Michelle Kayal explains her decision to donate any "leftover" embryos (if she and her husband had any - she didn't) for stem cell research.
Which left Option No. 2. Donate the embryos to research.

We checked the box.

Because we're heartless monsters who wish death on our babies? No. Just the opposite. Because we love our children too much.
Apparently, they loved their embryonic children too much to risk having them be adopted by a "family that might not be able to care for them -- or worse." Michelle claims she thought of her embryos as children but I wonder if she would have chosen the same option with a born child? "We love little Billy too much for him to be adopted, instead we'll donate him to be killed for medical research."

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's all down hill from here

According to research, my mental powers began to dwindle a couple of years ago.
Professor Timothy Salthouse of Virginia University found reasoning, speed of thought and spatial visualisation all decline in our late 20s.

Therapies designed to stall or reverse the ageing process may need to start much earlier, he said.

His seven-year study of 2,000 healthy people aged 18-60 is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.....

The first age at which there was any marked decline was at 27 in tests of brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability.

Things like memory stayed intact until the age of 37, on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60.

Michael Kinsley still doesn't get it

Hopefully, Ross Douthat will respond to Michael Kinsley’s response regarding Douthat comments on Kinsley’s reaction to Obama’s stem cell decision. I thought I’d highlight something rather telling. In his reaction to Obama’s stem cell decision, Kinsley basically attacked prolifers as being not serious in their opposition to the destruction of embryos because they weren’t doing anything to regulate or oppose IVF. At the time, he wrote,
The anti-abortion forces who have delayed stem-cell research by a decade are not morally serious. If they were, they would be trying to get laws making the work of fertility clinics illegal, not concentrating on the tiny fraction of surplus embryos from those clinics that are going to a worthwhile purpose. They would still be severely mistaken, in my view, but at least that could legitimately be described as an “ethical quandary.” But there is no political pressure against fertility clinics.
In response, Douthat noted that in fact some individuals concerned about embryos had and are working to regulate fertility clinics both in the United States and aboard. He also notes where battle is typically being fought (to use a war analogy, Kinsley is claiming prolifers aren’t serious about protecting human life because we’re currently struggling to hold our fort instead of conquering our opposition’s territory).
As should be clear from other examples, at home and abroad, most pro-lifers would like to heavily regulate fertility clinics, and would support efforts to give every embryo a chance at life. (I will pass over his line about miscarriages, which seems to imply that a "serious" pro-life movement would be trying to pass laws against accidental deaths.) But that's not where the national debate is at the moment, to put it mildly, so instead pro-lifers have done what you're supposed to do in a democracy, which is to meet the general public where they are. This doesn't make them insincere; it makes them sensible.

In response to Douthat pointing out his error, Kinsley fails to admit his mistake (he also claimed prolifers were "doing absolutely nothing" regarding frozen embryos) and instead responds by writing,
In this case, though, Douthat can only point to a couple of columns by Will Saletan in Slate—one about the octuplets controversy and the other about some law in Italy—to support his contention that pro-lifers “would like to heavily regulate fertility clinics.” Maybe they would, but this has played absolutely no part in the stem cell debate. In Bush’s original speech announcing his stem cell research restrictions eight years ago (now praised by conservatives as a masterpiece of moral reasoning the way liberals praise President Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia) Bush actually praised the work of fertility clinics, claiming—correctly—that in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has brought happiness to many.
Besides the underhanded “can only” as if Douthat was trying to create a complete list prolifers opposed to or looking to regulate IVF, Kinsley then quickly changes the subject to make it not about the supposed “not morally serious” prolifers but about President Bush.

Kinsley concludes by writing,
My own suspicion is that this fertility clinic anomaly hasn’t even occurred to most pro-lifers. And I think, or hope, that when they realize that their logic in opposing stem cell research would condemn all IVF as well, it will give many reasonable pro-lifers pause—maybe even about their pro-life position in general, certainly about their opposition to stem cell research.
Maybe the problem regarding the numerous frozen embryos is something that hasn’t occurred to most prolifers because most of them aren’t aware of it. My guess is that the average person on the street has no clue how many embryos are currently stored in fertility clinics. It’s just not something which is typically bantered about at the dinner table or the water cooler. So are all prolifers “not morally serious” because some of them are unaware of how many embryos are stored at fertility clinics?

But going back to Kinsley’s original argument, how does that make prolifers who are opposed to killing embryos for their cells and having our tax dollars fund it, “not morally serious.” It clearly doesn’t. Nor does it do anything to show that there is “no real quandary” to killing human embryos for their stem cells.

Instead of making any kind of reasoned argument for why it should be legal to kill human embryos for their cells and that federal tax dollars should pay for the research on these cells, Kinsley merely attacks those making the argument instead of attacking their argument. I guess that’s what you’re left with when you think that the search for agreement regarding “when humanity is conferred” is hopeless.

New York Times advocates spending tax dollars on cloned embryo stem cell research

The New York Times editorial board throws the “just the leftover frozen embryos” argument out the window and argues for tax dollars to support research on stem cell lines from cloned human embryos created solely for research. Of course, they don’t use the scary C-word. “Somatic cell nuclear transfer” is the preferred terminology.
Scientists believe that one way to obtain the matched cells needed to study diseases is to use a cell from an adult afflicted with that disease to create a genetically matched embryo and extract its stem cells. This approach — known as somatic cell nuclear transfer — is difficult, and no one has yet done it.

Another approach — known as induced pluripotent stem cells — has shown that adult skin cells can be converted back to a state resembling embryonic stem cells without ever creating or destroying an embryo. Some experts think that approach may be the most promising, for moral and practical reasons.

Even so, work on genetically matched embryonic stem cells would still be important. They may be the best way to study the earliest stages of a disease, or prove superior for other purposes. They will almost certainly be needed as a standard to judge the value of the induced pluripotent cells.
The last sentence makes no sense at all. Why on earth would we need to create stem cell lines from cloned human embryos (something that hasn’t been done yet) to be the standard on which to judge induced pluripotent cells? There’s no evidence that non-existent embryonic stem cell lines from cloned human embryos are somehow the gold standard for patient-specific pluripotent cell lines. Also, notice how the Times editors never address the issue of where the human eggs for these cloning experiments are going to come from.

I don’t know if they are really stubborn or just completely ignorant. Those seem to be the only possibilities for why someone would advocate spending tax dollars on failed, costly, hopelessly inefficient, currently non-existent research which will never ever be used treat human beings.

You don't say?

Where has this AP article been hiding for the last 8 years? Apparently, the promise of embryonic stem cells is decades away.
For all the past week's headlines about embryonic stem cells' medical promise there is a sobering reality: The science to prove that promise will take years, probably too long for many of today's seriously ill.
Who knew? I was pretty sure we’ve been told for years that once Bush’s funding restrictions were removed, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and any other disease you could think was going to be cured. It’s amazing how this sobering “news” comes out after Obama junks restrictions on the funding of embryonic stem cell research. Now that scientists and the media are no longer fighting to get rid of funding restrictions, they no longer need to the hype embryonic stem cell research.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Krauthammer brings down the hammer on Obama

There are so many good lines in Charles Krauthammer's recent op-ed on Obama's stem cell decision and speech, it's hard to pick and choose which ones to quote. Krauthammer is a proponent of embryonic stem cell research and was invited to Obama's signing ceremony. He declined and I'm guessing he won't be receiving any more invites.
While I favor moving that moral line to additionally permit the use of spare fertility clinic embryos, President Obama replaced it with no line at all....

I suggested the bright line prohibiting the deliberate creation of human embryos solely for the instrumental purpose of research -- a clear violation of the categorical imperative not to make a human life (even if only a potential human life) a means rather than an end.

On this, Obama has nothing to say. He leaves it entirely to the scientists. This is more than moral abdication. It is acquiescence to the mystique of "science" and its inherent moral benevolence....

Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.

Dr. James Thomson, the pioneer of embryonic stem cells, said "if human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." Obama clearly has not.

Life Links 3/13/09

President Obama's domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes attempts to defend her boss's stem cell decision and basically repeats the same kind of "ideology for me but not for thee" mumbo-jumbo.

Wesley Smith is there to shoot her "arguments" down.
This administration promised to be transparent: Instead it is opaque. It promised to heal divisions: Instead it is worsening them. It promised honesty, but its policy arguments are profoundly misleading to the point of mendacity.

The only reason he can get away with it is that the media remains immersed in the tank. If that ever changes, Obama could be in deep political trouble.

Prolife students from Spokane Falls Community College are suing their school after they were prevented from setting up a prolife display and distributing fliers. Apparently, the school said they could only distribute information if they also included information with a pro-choice point of view.
They wanted to post information about abortion and distribute fliers with anti-abortion viewpoints.

School officials said they would need to display abortion-rights information as well, the lawsuit said.

According to the suit, the school has allowed other groups to hold events without presenting opposing viewpoints, including one with a clergyman on why faith communities should be allies with the gay and lesbian community.

Susan Martinuk has a column in the Calgary Herald regarding a move by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons to change their standard of care guidelines to force physicians who are opposed to abortion to help women seeking abortion find out how to get one.
The proposed changes are being debated this week and, if accepted as drafted, doctors who oppose abortion (for whatever reason) will no longer have the option of refusing to assist a woman requesting abortion. The college claims doctors won't have to refer her directly to abortion providers, but they will have to ensure she has "access to information and assistance in making an informed decision and access to available medical options."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Early induction to treat pre-eclampsia vs. abortion?

About a week ago, I came across this post by a blogger named Mrs. Spit who argues in favor legal abortion and thinks doctors opposed to abortion should refer women to abortion providers.

In the post, she briefly describes consenting to an early induction of her pregnancy at 25 weeks due to pre-eclampsia. Her son, Gabriel, died shortly after birth. She argues that she had an abortion by writing,
She took her surgical cap off. She sat down and picked up my hand. She said "I need you to sign a consent form to be induced. I have to tell you that in all likelihood your baby will die. I have to tell you that at this point, given his gestational age and weight, and given the pre-existing complications, he will die. Most likely before he's born. Do you understand?"

I nodded. She handed me the pen. I signed my name.

I, Cheryl-Nancy Elizabeth.

I signed my name. I gave full, free and informed consent. I had options open to me, and this is the choice I made. I consented to kill my child.

I had an abortion.
I don’t know the full details regarding this situation but I’m of the mind that a procedure whose intended goal is not to kill the child (but rather treat the mother and also treat the child, if possible) isn’t abortion. I’m favorable to Right to Life of Michigan’s policy statement on abortion which says,
Abortion is any act or procedure performed with the willful intent to cause the death of an unborn child from conception to birth.....

This position does not oppose medical treatment to save the life of the mother. Treatments may, in rare circumstances, result in the unintended death of her child. The unintended death of the child is not to be construed as abortion. When the life of the mother is judged by competent medical personnel to be in danger, a doctor can and should treat both the mother and her unborn child, striving to save the lives of both.

But Mrs. Spit isn’t really interested in people thinking her situation was different than the situation of women who have abortions. In fact, she claims any differences are completely artificial.
I will stand up with thousands, hundreds of thousands of women. I will say that we made the best choice we could, at the time, under the circumstances. I'm not sorry if you don't like my choice. Frankly, I don't care. Perhaps you think I'm morally bankrupt, perhaps you think we all are. Perhaps you are able to make distinctions between my case and someone else's. I will say that those distinctions are completely artificial. I will say that I am not flattered when you tell me that you think I had a socially acceptable abortion. I will say that you are dead wrong when you tell me that I didn't have an abortion at all because I was dying. I will say this: either I have the choice to chose my life above my son's, or no one does. Either we all have choices, or none of us do.

In her post, she’s trying to provide prolifers with a face to women who’ve had abortions. She also seems to have some anger towards prolifers whom she seems to think believe women who have abortions are horrible. She concludes by writing,
When you fight about abortion, when you say that I am an exception, when you say that we are wrong or horrible or morally degenerate, when you want to take away a woman's right to choose what to do with her body, would you remember -

That's my face up there. That's me you're talking about.
I find this kind of argument in favor of legal abortion to just not make that much sense. The idea seems to be that because Mrs. Spit’s life was in danger and doctors recommended that she agree to an induced labor at 25 weeks and her son unintentionally but not unexpectantly died, therefore anyone who decides to have an abortion (regardless of the circumstances) is making the “best choice.”

To me there seems to be a huge chasm here. It’s a little like arguing that because I sped down the highway to get my injured wife to the hospitable, therefore anyone should be allowed to speed as fast as they want whenever they want for whatever reason they want. That comparison doesn't even work that well because I'm of the mind that the procedure Mrs. Spit had shouldn't even be labeled "abortion" if the intent wasn't to kill Gabriel.

But what I really wonder about is why would anyone in Mrs. Spit’s situation be so ardent in their belief that they had an abortion. Would she still think it was an abortion if the labor had been induced at 30 or 35 weeks? Would it have still be an abortion if Gabriel survived?

The problem with being a gradualist with regards to the right to life

Will Saletan, a pro-choicer who recognizes that the unborn are living human beings, writes the following in response to a column by Yuval Levin.
I cringe at this interpretation of the Declaration. Levin believes that equality means a five-day-old embryo has the same right to life as a 5-year-old girl. I just can't buy that. I'm a gradualist. I value the five-day-old embryo because it's on its way to becoming the 5-year-old girl. But it's not there yet. It hasn't acquired the sentience and cognition that characterize a full-fledged human being.
What about newborns? Do they not have the same right to life as a 5-year-old girl because they haven’t acquired the sentience and cognition which characterize a full-fledged human being?

The problem with being a gradualist with regards to whether human beings should have the right to life (notice how it would no longer be “inalienable”) is that the qualities so admired by many gradualists (sentience, cognition, etc.) is that these qualities don’t emerge until after birth (should it be legal to kill newborns?), they grow gradually throughout life (should humans with a greater quantity of these qualities have a greater right to life?) and then they typically wane towards the end of life (should humans who lose these qualities also lose their right to life?).

"Full-fledged" human beings aren't characterized by sentience and cognition. Those are natural capacities (like walking and talking) which many human beings currently possess while there are other full-fledged humans who haven't yet reached the stage of development where they will possess them and there are other full-fledged human beings who have lost those capacities and other full-fledged human beings who will never possess them.

Then Saletan ends with something which makes me wonder if he truly understand the feelings of prolifers.
Slippery slopes run both ways. Let's call that Human Nature's second law. If we don't draw moral lines against the exploitation of embryos, we may end up obliterating respect for human life generally. But if we're so afraid of that prospect that we refuse to draw lines permitting the use of any embryos under any conditions, we may end up obliterating the moral difference between embryos and full-grown people. Liberals should think seriously about the first scenario. Conservatives should think just as seriously about the second.
Prolifers don't accept that there is a moral difference between embryos and adults. That's the basis of the prolife position - that all human beings regardless of size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency have the right to life. It's not a slippery slope for us to protect human embryos. That's our goal.

Life Links 3/12/09

Ross Douthat replies to Michael Kinsley’s blog post on Obama’s stem cell decision. Kinsley claims that,
This is good news, to be sure. But let’s be clear: There is NO “medical ethical quandary” involved in the decade-long dispute over stem cells. There is only the appearance of an ethical quandary, created by people who either don’t understand or willfully misrepresent the facts.
Claiming that opponents of embryonic stem cell research are the ones who are “willfully misrepresenting the facts” is rich coming from Kinsley who on a number of occasions has falsely claimed that Bush’s policy on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell banned “almost all federal financing of embryonic-stem-cell research” and was “near-ban on stem-cell research.”

In the recent post Kinsley labels Bush’s funding policy a “ban on federally funded stem-cell research.”

I think it’s quite clear who is willfully misrepresenting the facts.

Jill Stanek points to a video interview by Sanjay Gupta with Bill Clinton in which Clinton doesn’t seem to understand what fertilization is. When referring to frozen embryos he repeatedly says they aren’t fertilized or will never be fertilized. At first I thought he may have confused fertilization with implantation but later comments in the interview wouldn’t make any sense if he really meant implantation. He seems to actually believe that frozen embryos haven’t been fertilized.

Just something to remember when prolifers are accused of being ignorant about science.

One “stem cell expert” in the UK is calling for the organs of aborted children to be used to fix the lack of organ donors.
Calling for studies into the feasibility of transplanting foetal organs, Sir Richard, an advisor to Britain's fertility watchdog and the Royal Society, said he was surprised the possibility had not been considered, and that experiments in mice have shown that foetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted to adult animals.

Sir Richard said: 'It is probably a more realistic technique in dealing with the shortage of kidney donors than others.'

Orange County Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to take away Planned Parenthood’s health education grant because they provide abortions.

Michael Gerson on Obama’s anti-life policies:
Taxpayers will now likely fund not only the use of "spare" embryos from in vitro fertilization, but also human lives produced and ended for the sole purpose of scientific exploitation. Biotechnicians have been freed from the vulgar moralism of the masses, so they can operate according to the vulgar utilitarianism of their own social clique -- the belief that some human lives can be planted, plucked and processed for the benefit of others.

It is the incurable itch of prochoice activists to compel everyone's complicity in their agenda. Somehow getting "politics out of science" translates into taxpayer funding for embryo experimentation. "Choice" becomes a demand on doctors and nurses to violate their deepest beliefs or face discrimination.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Doug Kmiec is living in his own fantasy world

It appears Doug Kmiec still doesn't get it. In an e-mail response to Dan Gilgoff regarding Obama numerous anti-life actions, Kmiec (a self-proclaimed prolife Obama backer) writes,
Of course, with or without an alternative to embryonic cells, Cardinal Rigali has it exactly right, no innocent human life is to be sacrificed for another even with the promise of medical breakthrough. That said, I do commend the President for his strong prohibition of human cloning....

Too bad Obama didn't call for a prohibition on human cloning and is actually in favor of creating cloned human embryos for research.

Kmiec also makes a number of completely unsubstantiated claims about how the Mexico City policy (which merely prevented a few well-funded abortion providers/promoters from getting international family planning funds) "aggravated levels of disease, deprived remote areas of less developed nations sometimes of their only available health care" and "may well have also accounted for dramatic increases in abortion."

Since when did Kmiec get hired as a Planned Parenthood spokesman?

Kmiec also believes Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has a long record of vetoing prolife legislation designed to limit late-term abortion in Kansas, is "a highly capable and respected administrator who fully believes in the protection of human life at all its stages."

If you didn't believe Kmiec's arguments were shoddy before, I don't know what else could convince you.

The Detroit Free Press strikes again

As I've mentioned before Detroit Free Press reporter Megha Satyanarayana is one of those reporters who doesn't even appear to be in the slightest bit interested in attempting to shade her biases. From the first sentence in her story on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan:
At Wayne State University, Carol Brenner and her Tech Town colleagues know that Monday's lifting of federal restrictions on stem cell research means what once was trash could lead to a treasure trove of treatments.

By "trash" Satyanarayana means "human embryos."

If you want more evidence that Satyanarayana isn't the type of reporter who bothers to check facts, take a look out the side bar which has this statement.
There are no federal and state laws prohibiting human cloning, but researchers say they aren't interested in the practice.

Actually, Michigan has had a law which bans human cloning for more than 10 years and there are plenty of researchers in America who are interested in human cloning.

Translating Obama

From his speech on his stem cell policy.
I can also promise that we will never undertake this research lightly. We will support it only when it is both scientifically worthy and responsibly conducted. We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse. And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.

This Order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. But let’s be clear: promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.

Guidelines for scientific research based on an ideology which Obama favors = Strict, responsible, prevent misuse or abuse, and are based on facts

Guidelines for scientific research based on an ideology which Obama opposes = Attacks on free and open inquiry, prevent scientists from doing their jobs, rely on manipulation and coercion, are deaf to scientists, and are based on ideology

Notice how no argument is made for why one set of guidelines (which basically lets scientists set their own ethical guidelines) is so good while another is so poor.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Responses to Obama's Stem Cell Decision

Robert George and Eric Cohen in the Wall Street Journal - The President Politicizes Stem Cell Research:
Yesterday President Barack Obama issued an executive order that authorizes expanded federal funding for research using stem cells produced by destroying human embryos. The announcement was classic Obama: advancing radical policies while seeming calm and moderate, and preaching the gospel of civility while accusing those who disagree with the policies of being "divisive" and even "politicizing science."

Yuval Levin in the Washington Post - Science Over All:
The executive order Obama signed omits any mention of ethical debate. The entirety of the case it makes for itself is that "advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds." And while Obama promised that his policy would be bound by ethical guidelines, he left it to the scientists of the National Institutes of Health to define the rules. The issue, he suggested, is a matter of science, not politics.

But science policy is not just a matter of science. Like all policy, it calls for a balancing of priorities and concerns, and it requires a judgment of needs and values that in a democracy we trust to our elected officials. In science policy, science informs, but politics governs, and rightly so.

Jonah Goldberg in the Corner:
I think Saletan and Yuval don't go far enough, however, in expla(in)ing that Obama's "ideology-free" position on stem cells, is itself an ideological position. I'm no fan of the philosopher Carl Schmitt, but he was right that even the decision to decide what things are "immune" from politics is a political decision. If a right-wing president declared that he would give the military a completely free hand to set its own ethical and procedural constraints, most of us on the left and right would see that as a crazily "ideological" position....

Readers of my book (and the Corner) know that I think the cult of pragmatism is really a Trojan Horse for the preferred ideological positions of people who don't want to have ideological arguments. It often requires an undemocratic form of argumentation in which differing points of view are dismissed as illegitimate.

Life Links 3/10/09

Today is one of the least celebrated "holidays" in America. It's National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Only a few people will be celebrating. One of them is the Nation's Katha Politt. The New York Times fulfilled their duty a few days early by printing this puff piece on the graying of abortion providers whose sole source seems to be the claims of abortion providers. Another is former abortionist Suzanne Poppema who has a RH Reality Check piece entitled, "Save the Endangered Abortion Provider!"
We're still waiting for Hallmark to make us a special line of greeting cards, but the very existence of a day honoring abortion providers is a step in the right direction.
You'll be waiting for a long time. Imagine a card section for abortionists in the card shop next to Husband, Wife, Mother and Father. What would a form thank you card for an abortionist say?

"To the person who made me wait in a crowded room all day, charged me $400 and then saw me for a minute or so before vaccuuming out my uterus, you're the best physician I've ever met (well, I guess we really didn't meet, did we?)."

Adam Keiper notes Obama's empty rhetoric about understanding the concerns of people opposed to killing embryos.
What room is there for ethics in President Obama’s thinking? He says that he “understand[s]” the concerns of opponents of this research, but this is the sort of empty and condescending acknowledgement of an opponent’s views encouraged by the teachers of conflict resolution — a formulaic expression of the sort that careful listeners will frequently hear from our new president. Neither the president’s speech nor his executive order actually acknowledge what the ethical concerns are. He assures the nation that the research will proceed “responsibly” and that “the perils can be avoided” — but from the point of view of opponents of this research, it is his policy itself that leads irresponsibly toward the peril of embryo exploitation and experimentation, toward accepting the destruction of one class of human beings for the benefit of another.

In more "Obama understanding" news, Wesley Smith notes how Obama also rescinded President Bush's order to fund research which attempted to find alternatives to methods of creating pluripotent stem cells without killing human embryos. This is really spiteful and there's just really no good reason for it.
I can think of only two reasons for this action, for which I saw no advocacy either in the election or during the first weeks of the Administration: First, vindictiveness against all things "Bush" or policies considered by the Left to be "pro life;" and second, a desire to get the public to see unborn human life as a mere corn crop ripe for the harvest.

So much for taking the politics out of science!

Australia has dropped a policy which mirrored the United States' Mexico City policy.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Art Caplan is unbelievable

His commentary for MSNBC.com, entitled, "Finally, coherent stem cell policy" is an incoherent conglomerate of contradictory claims which makes me wonder if he has multiple personality disorder.

Art Caplan is well aware that the federal government of the United States (through the National Institutes of Health) provides millions of dollars for human embryonic stem cell research yet his piece contains the following quotes (my emphasis),
This reversal of former President George W. Bush's ban on such funding....

Research involving embryonic stem cells is still in its infancy. It has had a very hard time moving forward because the Bush administration would not allow the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies to pay for such research....

But after eight year of zero-budget funding of embryonic stem cell research, it is hardly fair and completely disingenuous for critics to point to the practice and wonder why it lags four decades behind government-funded adult stem cell research.
Then, after spending 10 paragraphs claiming President Bush forbid the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, we get this(my emphasis):
Bush permitted taxpayer money to be spent on research using a few cell lines that had been made from human embryos before he became President. But, if it is wrong to destroy embryos to get stem cells then why would it be ethical to spend federal money to support such research simply because it began before an arbitrary date?
But if Bush actually did allow the federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, then why did you spend the last 10 paragraphs claiming that he didn't?

Then after admitting that Bush did allow the federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research with restrictions and making arguments about how Caplan doesn't think Bush's position makes sense, he closes by claiming,
Obama’s decision to permit federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is — finally — the correct policy for the United States to follow.
Unbelievable. I just don't understand how anyone could find this kind of argument convincing.

Caplan repeatedly makes a claims he knows is false (Bush banned funding) and bases arguments on those claims (lack of federal funding is why embryonic stem cells are so far behind adult cells). Then Caplan notes the opposite of his original claim (Bush allowed funding) is true and attacks the reasoning of Bush's position without expressly admitting everything he said previously (Bush banned funding) was false. He concludes by repeating his original false claim (Bush banned funding).

Life Links 3/9/09

Ryan Anderson has a piece in the Weekly Standard on Obama’s stem cell announcement entitled, “Perpetuating a Needless Stem-Cell War.”
Obama continued, noting that his stem-cell decision was just the starting point for a larger reevaluation of the role scientists will play in his administration: "It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient--especially when it's inconvenient."

But critics of human embryo-destructive research have never been hostile to science. The dispute is not about whether stem-cell science should proceed; it is about how it will proceed. Will it go forward in a way that respects all human life? Or will it regard the taking of human life in its early stages as justified by the desire to advance biomedical knowledge and seek therapies? Listening to scientists who tell us what they want to do doesn't mean we should give them a blank check; we need to determine if what they're proposing, especially when it's inconvenient for unborn human life, is what they should be doing...

After seven years and two campaigns of the Democrats attacking the Republicans over President Bush's stem-cell policy, Obama evidently thought he had to make good on his promise to promote and fund embryo-destructive research, even if it is now scientifically superfluous. And superfluous is exactly what the past year and a half of stem-cell breakthroughs have made it.

The University of Michigan has 400 human embryos they plan to kill to create embryonic stem cell lines.

Tom McClusky explains what prolifers riders are. And no, they’re not prolife people who journey from place to place on horseback.

Who wants bad, inaccurate headlines? Here are just a few regarding Obama’s embryonic stem cell funding announcement.

BBC News: Obama ends stem cell funding ban
New York Times: Obama Lifts Bush’s Strict Limits on Stem Cell Research (the article later describes Bush’s policy as “a careful compromise”)
U.S. News and World Report: President Obama Reverses Bush's Stem Cell Research Ban

Only Human Cloning for Reproduction?

C-SPAN has the video of Obama's address and signing to overturn President Bush's restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

During his address (at around 5:15), Obama said "we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society."

By "reproduction" Obama seems to mean bringing a cloned human child to birth. It's not really accurate terminology since all human cloning (regardless of whether the clone is implanted or killed) is reproductive.

This is the same Barack Obama who co-sponsored S.B. 1520. S.B. 1520 was called the "Human Cloning Ban Act of 2005" but didn't do anything to ban human cloning. The only thing it banned was the implantation of human clones. It used a unscientific and intentional misleading definition of "human cloning" to act like it was banning human cloning when it was only banning the implantation of a human clone.

So Obama's position on human cloning is that it is perfectly alright to use cloning to create cloned human embryos as long as they are killed for their stem cells but that it dangerous, profoundly wrong and there is no place in our society for implanting human clones.

Obama to Reverse Embryonic Stem Cell Funding Policy

President Obama will announced his changes to Bush’s embryonic stem cell funding policy at 11:45 a.m. today according to CBS News. According to the New York Times, he won’t be taking a position on whether federal funds can be used to create or destroy human embryos. He’ll let Congress decide whether to scrap the Dickey Amendment or not and Diane DeGette is working to overturn the policy.
“Dickey-Wicker is 13 years old now, and I think we need to review these policies,” Ms. DeGette said. “I’ve already talked to several pro-life Democrats about Dickey-Wicker, and they seemed open to the concept of reversing the policy if we could show that it was necessary to foster this research.”

Remember how this issue was supposedly only about funding research on the stem cell lines from the “leftover embryos.” Not so much anymore. With the change of administrations, what scientists now want seems to have expanded. The second page of Washington Post article has a quote from George Daley hoping that the funding won’t be restricted to embryonic stem cells created from embryos leftover from IVF but also allow funding on embryonic stem cell lines created.
"We're all waiting to see what the details of the policy will be," said George Daley, a leading stem cell researcher at Children's Hospital Boston. "If the policy were limited to lines exclusively from frozen embryos left over at IVF clinics, that would be a very restricted course and exclude some very important lines."

Obama will also sign a memorandum supposedly designed to keep politics out of science but from the article it sounds more designed to keep prolife ethics out of governmental policies.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pro-Coercion: When "Pro-Choice" legislators fight for parents' "rights" to coerce their raped daughters into having abortions

Sara Lampe, a Democratic legislator in Missouri is opposed to a bill aimed at preventing coerced abortions because the bill could penalize parents who coerce their minor daughters into having abortions.
Lampe's concern was partly that the definition in the bill makes any pregnant female, including a minor, a woman under the law. That could mean, she said, that parents could be guilty of a felony for making the decision that their raped child would abort the pregnancy.

She said that contradicted an anti-abortion bill passed by the House a few years ago that required parental consent for minors seeking an abortion.

"I am appalled that the members of this body often talk of parents' rights, but now we're going to ignore them," Lampe said. "The bill puts a parent ... in the position of being a felon."
Lampe doesn't seem to understand that no one has "the right" to coerce someone else into having an abortion. Not a husband, not a boyfriend, and not the parents of a rape victim.

She also seems to miss how she's completing contradicting herself and her "pro-choice" position. She thinks that women (with the exception of minor girls who've been raped) should ultimately decide whether they should have an abortion and that parents shouldn't have any legal rights in this decision unless they're coercing victims of rape into having abortions.

What utter nonsense.

Life Links 3/6/09

The Raving Theist examines a pro-choice blogger's horror that the child born alive at a Florida abortion clinic was stuffed inside a plastic bag to die.
Horrified, again, that the baby was suffocated in a medical waste bag rather than chopped up in the womb two minutes before being stuffed into a medical waste bag.

Rapin Osathanondh, the abortionist whose actions led to the death of Laura Smith, could be in court in September to face charges for manslaughter.
Osathanondh allegedly sedated Smith without monitoring her vital signs or having another appropriately trained medical staffer present.

A civil case filed against the doctor last March by the victim's mother is proceeding in the same court.

Another day and another iPS cell advancement.
Borrowing a biological cut-and-paste trick from bacteria, scientists have created the first personalized stem cells for patients that are free of the cancer-causing viruses and genes needed to make them, according to a study published today in the journal Cell.

The stem cells, derived from skin samples provided by five patients with Parkinson's disease, were first transformed back to the undecided state of cells in an early embryo. Then they were used to make the dopamine-manufacturing neurons that are lost to disease.

An archbishop in Brazil is claiming that the abortion performed on a 9-year-old girl who was pregnant with twins means the girl's mother and the physicians who performed the abortion are ex-communicated.

A 77-year-old man in Great Britain has been sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for sending pictures of aborted children to a bed company. He had previously been jailed for sending a video showing abortion to a hospital administrator.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fight prolifers by drinking alcohol!

That’s what one members of the Feministing community proposes (language warning) after attending an abortion debate and making a drinking game of it.

Instead of carefully listening to the arguments regarding the morality of abortion, a student at Ottawa University with the pseudonym “iam1988" and her pro-choice friends decided to attend the event and well, I’ll let her explain:
In a classroom that crammed over 150 people into it, a full row of 10 of my peers and me drank every time 'genocide' 'kill' or 'baby' was mentioned.

I'm not going to lie I was drunk in 30mins....

I'm sure if I wasn't already drunk and fantasizing about how I could seduce anti-choice boys onto our side I would have walked out half way.

But just another creative way to fight the anti-choicers! And have a little bit of fun.
This would be funny if it were not so sad.

The comments section of this Feministing community post is filled with a number of poor pro-choice arguments which prolifers deal with all the time but these members of the Feministing community present them as if prolifers haven't been providing well-reasoned responses to them for years.

Life Links 3/5/09

The Catholic Key blog has Archbishop Josehph’s Naumann column addressing Kathleen Sebelius’ appointment to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kansas has one of the most restrictive laws regarding late-term abortions. Yet, it has become, in large part because of Dr. Tiller, the late-term abortion capital of the Midwest. How is this possible? It is possible because our current laws have not been enforced. Each time the Kansas Legislature has passed statutes in an effort to improve enforcement of late-term abortion restrictions, Governor Sebelius has vetoed these laws.....

The appointment of Governor Sebelius as the Secretary of HHS concerns me on many levels. With her history of support for legalized abortion and embryonic stem cell research, it is troubling the important influence that she will have on shaping health care policies for our nation.

Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (or at least his staff) is attempting to defend his vote on legislation to prevent the overturning of the Mexico City policy. Casey voted against an amendment which would have prevented international family planning funds from going to organizations which provide and promote abortions overseas. Casey spokesman Larry Smar had this to say to CNS News:
“In accordance with his pro-life views, Senator Casey voted recently to rescind Mexico City Policy, thus allowing U.S. funding of family planning services to international aid organizations,” Smar told CNSNews.com.
Except that the U.S. was already providing family planning funds to international aid organizations, just not ones who provide abortions. Smar also claimed,
“With the Helms Amendment prohibitions firmly in place, Senator Casey voted to support U.S. funding for overseas family planning precisely because it reduces the number of abortions.”
Except the only family planning he’s supporting with his vote is family planning provided by abortion promoters and I doubt Casey or Smar has any evidence that giving family planning funds to abortion providers reduces abortions more than giving funds to organizations which don’t provide and promote abortion.

A nine-year-old in Brazil who was carrying twins has had an abortion .

Jeff Jacoby compares influential philosopher Peter Singer’s view on helping the poor with his views on infanticide.
Intelligence alone will not make the world a better place, and if anyone's career proves the point, it is Singer's. Over the years, he has turned his skill to rationalizing bestiality, proposing a 28-day period during which newborns could be killed, and concluding that breeding children for spare parts is "not ... something really wrong in itself."

And why not? Once you've jettisoned the "old morality," good and evil are just a matter of opinion. "Man without God is a beast," wrote Whittaker Chambers, "never more beastly than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness."

At the Weekly Standard blog, John McCormack points out how the Washington Post and a couple of liberal bloggers incorrectly reported on Senator David Vitter’s amendment to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funding.
The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers writes that Vitter's amendment would "drastically cut funding for family planning programs." This is untrue. Vitter's amendment wouldn't cut contraceptive funding provided under Title X by one cent. It would merely keep money from going to Planned Parenthood, an organization that performs more than 250,000 abortions annually. Vitter simply doesn't want taxpayer dollars lining the pockets of abortionists who also prescribe birth control. If, say, some liberal senator wanted to prohibit funding for Blackwater, it wouldn't be correct to say he was "slashing" the defense budget if those funds could be spent on the same services provided by a different company.

Bernadine Healy, M.D. has a piece in U.S. News and World Report entitled, “Why Embryonic Stem Cells are Obsolete.” She mistakenly writes that embryonic stem cells caused tumors in a boy when they were actually fetal stem cells. She calls the expanding of federal funding for research on frozen embryos an “easy lift” but cautions Obama on lifting the funding ban on the creation of human embryos for research.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Life Links 3/4/09

Abortion mill owner Belkis Gonzalez has been charged with "a second-degree felony count of unlicensed practice of a health care profession resulting in serious bodily injury and a third-degree felony count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence" for her role in the death of Shanice Williams, a child who was born-alive during an abortion. According to the CNN story above, she faces a maximum of a year in jail while this Miami Herald story says the Gonzalez could face 15 years behind bars.

Unfortunately, no murder charges will be filed because, depending on whose defending the lack of a murder charge, Shanice was too young to survive outside the womb or because they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Shanice was born alive.

Mona Charen on the most recent iPS cell breakthrough:
Advocates of embryonic-stem-cell research (who, by the way, are waiting impatiently for President Obama to reverse President Bush’s limitation on the kinds of research the federal government will fund) seem almost not to welcome alternatives to embryonic research. It’s as if agreeing to pursue other methods acknowledges a moral problem they wish to deny. Their arguments in favor of using embryos attempt to minimize the moral weight of the situation. “These are embryos left over from the in vitro fertilization process. No one is using them anyway. They might as well be used for the betterment of mankind.”

Australian scientists have discovered the a way of curing muscular dystrophy and myopathy in mice using adult stem cells. They're hoping it will work with humans as well.
Using adult stem cells, a team of researchers from the University of NSW and the Children's Hospital at Westmead have found that by replacing the bad gene in stem cells and then using chemotherapy, the muscle can repair and regrow.

Professor Peter Gunning, from the University of NSW school of medical sciences, said the aim was to cure people who had the diseases.

"What we are aiming to do is regenerate the muscle permanently," he said. The procedure has been successful on mice but has yet to be tested on humans.

Wesley Smith on Severino Antinori's claim that he successfully cloned three human children 9 years ago.
So let me get this straight: Scientists all over the world have not been able to create cloned embryos and maintain them past the first few days of development. But nine years ago Antinori not only cloned successfully, but also implanted the resulting embryos for gestation and to birth, and moreover, unlike many animals, they have no health problems--and publicity hound that he is he kept quiet about it all these years?