While the embryonic stem cell neanderthals continue to push their deadly research, ethical adult stem cell research is blazing new trails in treating real people with real diseases or conditions. The latest stunning success story reported by the Associated Press features treatments using adult stem cells to restore sight in patients who were blinded or suffered severe eye damage from exposure to caustic chemicals.
“The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision,” states the AP story.
The Italian study, which appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine, described how stem cells were taken from a patient’s healthy eye, multiplied in the lab, and then placed back into the damaged eye. New corneal tissue grew to replace the damaged tissue. There was no rejection of the stem cells since they carried the patient’s own DNA. Patients were followed for about three years and some for a decade.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Obama administration continues to release federal funds for embryonic stem cell research with the latest round released just last week. “Of course, the total number of patients helped by embryonic stem cells is still zero, while adult stem cells are being used to treat over 50,000 patients a year,” says Dr. David Prentice, a biology professor and expert on stem cell research.
Patient Scorecard: Embryonic stem cells — ZERO. Adult stem cells — 50,000/year. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Dr. Donald Berwick is hardly a household name. But, he has been nominated by President Obama to assume the role as CEO of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement to direct the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Translation — Berwick will be in charge of implementing Obamacare.
Berwick is an open devotee of rationing. In June of 2009, Berwick wrote in the journal Biotechnology Healthcare, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. We can make a sensible social decision and say, ‘Well, at this point, to have access to a particular [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.’”
Burke Balch, a National Right to Life health care expert, says that Berwick has strong views on limiting the implementation of lifesaving medical technology, even if you want to use your own money to request it. If Berwick believes what you want and will pay for with your own dollars doesn’t (in his opinion) lower health care costs, you won’t get it.
That’s why NRLC is vehemently opposing the confirmation of Berwick to this position which will literally determine what treatment you will get.
It was just three years ago that Wisconsin Right to Life won its case against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in the U.S. Supreme Court and put a crack in the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform act. Earlier this year, the Supremes opened the crack wider by striking down more of the restrictions inflicted on free speech by Americans under McCain/Feingold.
The President and his allies in Congress vowed to enact new restrictions and the House of Representatives did just that last week with passage of the DISCLOSE Act by a 219-206 vote. The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) led the opposition. Why? Because the DISCLOSE Act would make it as difficult as possible for corporations like NRLC and WRTL to communicate with the public about actions taken by federal officeholders. Here’s the kicker — the bill gives wider latitude to communicate to labor unions and has a special exception carved out for the National Rifle Association.
Wisconsin House members voting against the DISCLOSE Act were Ryan, Petri and Sensenbrenner. Voting for were Baldwin, Kind, Moore, Obey and Kagen.
The fate of DISCLOSE is uncertain in the Senate where it faces a filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would have to hold all 41 Republicans together and get some help from a Democrat or two to keep the bill from coming up for a vote. Don’t count on our two Senators, Feingold and Kohl, to be of any help whatsoever in protecting free speech under the First Amendment.
This week the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) sent a four page memorandum to all U.S. Senators detailing why a “no” vote is vital on the Elena Kagan nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. NRLC reviewed various memoranda and other material written by Kagan while she served as White House staff to President Bill Clinton.
“Our conclusion is that Elena Kagan is first and foremost a social engineer, animated primarily by a desire to shape public policy on a host of issues,” says NRLC. “…if confirmed…..we anticipate that Ms. Kagan often will treat the U.S. Constitution not as a body of basic law that truly constrains both legislators and judges, but rather, as a cookbook in which may be found legal recipes that will allow the imposition of the policies that Ms. Kagan deems to be justified or advisable, or that are so regarded by whatever groups she sees as the enlightened elites on a given subject.”
We have already discussed in this blog how Kagan helped President Clinton formulate a position in favor of a phony ban on partial-birth abortion to avoid an override of his veto. “Ms. Kagan played a key role in keeping the brutal partial-birth abortion method legal for an additional decade,” states NRLC.
Kagan also wrote in favor of cloning and assisted suicide. Other writings indicate that one cannot expect Kagan to uphold freedom of speech under the First Amendment, an issue in which Wisconsin Right to Life has played a prominent national role.
A 1995 Kagan statement summarizes in full why we should greatly fear her confirmation: “it should be no surprise by now that many of the votes a Supreme Court Justice casts have little to do with technical legal ability and much to do with conceptions of value.” We know her values are extremely anti-life. Thus, we know how she will vote. It is critical that this nominee be defeated.
The federal government gave $150,000 to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin last year for 10 video machines which allow PP to communicate with patients by video phone. The 10 video phones were installed at Planned Parenthood offices in Racine, Delavan, Waukesha, Fond du Lac, West Bend, Portage, two clinics in Madison and two clinics in Milwaukee. This information was reported in a July 2009 article in the Milwaukee Business Journal.
“This allows for far easier access and we can read a patient’s body language to see what is really upsetting them,” says an official of PP of WI.
PP piloted the program in March 2008 at three locations in Milwaukee, Fond du Lac and Delavan. According to the Business Journal, funding for the pilot project came from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
Is it a coincidence that Planned Parenthood has piloted 1,500 telemed abortions in Iowa and is considering doing them nationwide? Sounds like a very cozy set-up. Our tax dollars pay for the video machines and PP segues into using them to do abortions. Makes the blood boil.
A just-released Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely Wisconsin voters shows Scott Walker leading Tom Barrett for Governor by 49% to 41%. Mark Neumann also holds a big lead over Barrett of 47% to 39%. Rasmussen says that “both Republicans have led Barrett in surveys back to the first of the year, with Walker consistently running slightly stronger than Neumann.”
Rasmussen goes on to say: “Among male voters in Wisconsin, both Republican gubernatorial candidates hold a double-digit advantage over Barrett. Female voters are more evenly divided. Voters not affiliated with either major party prefer the GOP candidate by roughly two-to-one in both matchups.” The big swing of independents to the GOP candidate can’t be good news to the Barrett camp.
The poll also shows Ron Johnson in a virtual dead heat with Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate.
The good news continues as 58% of likely voters favor the repeal of Obamacare with 49% strongly favoring repeal. The trends are good but November is still a long ways away.
I don’t know much about Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, and read with interest the lengthy article about him in the Weekly Standard. He was described as an unusual campaigner with high personal appeal as he rides his motorcycle around the state and joins tables of people at local restaurants to participate in their discussions. A strong fiscal conservative, certainly this piece was showcasing Daniels as a possible presidential contender in 2012.
As delightful a character as he seems, he made one very bad mistake in the interview that sends shivers down the spines of those who valiantly defend the unborn — day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Daniels said the next President would have to call a “truce” on social issues like abortion to concentrate on the economy.
So, if a helpless child is in a burning building, would we say there should be a “truce” on saving her life because there are more important matters? Every day in the United States, there are 3,288 unborn babies that are in an abortion clinic (the equivalent of a burning building) imploring that someone intercede to save their lives.
Listen up, Mr. Daniels — there can be no “truce” on abortion — not now, not ever.
The slippery slope of assisted suicide and euthanasia is no longer a slope but a steep and hazardous cliff in several European countries. One fifth of nurses in Belgium admitted to researchers that they were involved in euthanasia deaths of patients who had not consented. The nurses “assumed” the patients would want to die. Nearly half (120 of 248) said they had taken part in “terminations without request or consent.” Of course, this is against the law but apparently that doesn’t matter as the rules are ignored.
In Holland, the world’s leader in administering death by lethal doses of drugs, euthanasia cases rose an alarming 13% in one year. Reports indicate that 2,636 euthanasia deaths occurred in 2009 compared to 2,331 in 2008. As in Belgium, there are charges that some patients do not consent to death by euthanasia. Dr. Els Borst, the former health minister and deputy prime minister who helped guide a law to legalize euthanasia through Parliament, is now uneasy about how the law is being used. Borst believes that euthanasia has destroyed palliative care, noting that there are only two tiny hospices left in Amsterdam, the nation’s largest city.
The rise in euthanasia deaths has prompted an inquiry by the health ministry in Holland. I am a cynic who believes that Holland has fallen so far off of the cliff that it will be nearly impossible to stop the march towards forced death for Dutch citizens.
One of the most powerful arguments we as opponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia use is that these acts can be tantamount to elder abuse. Family members and/or medical professionals can abuse their power over vulnerable individuals by intimidating them into “choosing” assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Now, Compassion and Choices (C&C), the nation’s leading proponent of assisted suicide and euthanasia, is trying to put a new twist on elder abuse. Recognizing the power of the elder abuse argument for opponents, C&C writes on its website that, in recognition of World Elder Abuse Prevention Day, we should focus on a “rarely recognized” and “never punished” form of elder abuse — “the pain, torture and invasion of bodily integrity from ‘heroic’ and futile medical procedures associated with end-of-life care.”
“Add to this scene severe and unnecessary suffering from inadequate treatment of pain,” says C&C and they conclude that assisted suicide and euthanasia are the answer. Excuse me, but wouldn’t it be simpler to just work to relieve pain as so many in the medical profession are now doing? And, to respect the right of patients to refuse treatment?
Then comes the real motivation behind the C&C onslaught: “When institutions withhold vital information about medical practices like terminal sedation or aid in dying [C&C euphemism for assisted suicide], which they deem immoral, and hold patients hostage to their own beliefs in the redemptive power of suffering, that is elder abuse….Catholic facilities that enforce gag rules and bar conversations about legal aid in dying, even when a patient inquires, are doing just that in Oregon and Washington.”
It’s those bad Catholics again, trying to invoke conscience protections for their medical professionals and facilities. And, that is C&C’s goal — first to legalize; then, to eliminate conscience protections so that assisted suicide and euthanasia can be mainstreamed and available anywhere.
It’s official! The Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee has endorsed Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate. Frankly, this was an easy endorsement to make. Russ Feingold is the hardest of hard-core pro-abortion U.S. Senators. The May 18 blog featured the exchange that took place on the U.S. Senate floor in 1996 between Senator Rick Santorum and Sen Feingold in which Feingold essentially stated that if a baby was completely born in a failed partial-birth abortion attempt, it was still a decision between the mother and her doctor as to what should happen to the baby.
Ron Johnson is not only a strong advocate for the right-to-life, but he is very electable — a key criteria for endorsement. A May 25 Rasmussen Reports poll of likely Wisconsin voters shows Feingold at 46% and Johnson at 44%. Johnson is now airing television commercials which should increase his name ID and let people know there is a very real alternative to Feingold.
Let’s hope my dream of Russ Feingold in a fishing boat on Lake Mendota, enjoying his freedom from the Washington scene, comes true.