The story earlier this year chilled to the bone. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, was finally exposed as a person who killed babies very late term in pregnancy and endangered the lives and health of women. He is accused of delivering live, viable babies in the third trimester and murdering the newborns by severing their spinal cords. Operating in a filthy clinic, Gosnell is accused of overdosing women with dangerous drugs, infecting them with unclean instruments, and on at least two occasions, causing the death of women. For too many years, health department officials looked the other way. Finally, Gosnell has been shut down and charged with eight counts of murder to which he has plead not guilty.
Gosnell didn’t act alone. Two workers have now plead guilty to third-degree murder in two deaths. Andrea Moton was an abortion assistant with no formal medical training who now admits her involvement in severing the spinal cords of babies aborted alive. Sherry West plead guilty in the death of a Bhutanese immigrant who died after receiving an overdose of anesthesia. West, who also had no formal medical training, performed ultrasound exams, administered anesthesia, and monitored patients in the recovery room, according to prosecutors.
You can read more about this sordid tale, if your stomach can handle it, here.
The number of suicides in Oregon — which has a suicide rate 35 percent higher than the national average — keeps climbing. According to the state’s violent death report, there were 566 suicides in 2008, 641 in 2009 and preliminary figures show 670 in 2010. The number of calls to Oregon Partnership’s Suicide Lifeline has risen from 11,303 in 2008 to 19,016 in 2010. “Oregon’s rate has been consistently higher than the rest of the country,” said Katrina Hedberg state epidemiologist. “We do not have adequate resources to address the problem.”
And they aren’t counting the 70 or so annual assisted suicides, which would add about 10% to the phony total, which the law pretends isn’t actually suicide.
So, why exactly is it a problem when some people commit suicide, but not a problem that other people commit suicide? Indeed, Oregon goes even further, proclaiming in its public policy that some suicides are so right, doctors can facilitate them. Then, when the rate of other categories who kill themselves increases, it is a crisis. The paradox does not compute.
Every suicide should be prevented, if possible, not just some. Mixed messages makes it difficult to maintain a robust anti suicide policy. (Remember “Invisible Suicide Prevention Week?”) You can’t say, in effect, “Don’t jump off a bridge,” and then when told, “But I have cancer,” say, “Oh, that’s different, here take these poison pills” and expect despairing people to pay attention.
Connect the dots, people! Legalizing assisted suicide is pro suicide. Perhaps one way to reverse the tide would be to revoke the state’s pro suicide for some people law so that the state can communicate a consistent anti suicide message.
Two women from Texas, Claudia Stravato and Amanda Stukenberg, have pulled their clinics from association with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Why? Because PPFA began to pressure its affiliates to perform abortions by 2013. Stravato and Stukenberg are not pro-lifers. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, “The women say recent reforms within the organization have fed the stereotype of Planned Parenthood as a pseudo nonprofit run by New York suits chiefly concerned with dominating the abortion industry.” Stravato and Stukenberg “believe the organization has deviated from its mission, and allowed itself to become mired in a culture war over abortion” which they believe jeopardizes the rest of its services.
The new PPFA policy to require abortion services by 2013 was approved by affiliates in early 2010. According to PPFA officials, the decision came following information from clients who wanted consistent services at PPFA clinics. The Chronicle article states that “Peter Durkin, CEO of Houston’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, strongly supports requiring abortion services, which he calls a vital part of the ‘continuum of care’ and ‘a moral imperative.’ We have to have the courage of our convictions,. Particularly in red states, we have to say, ‘I’m proud of this service.’”
The Chronicle article concludes with: “Stravato and Stukenberg say they don’t regret their decision to leave. They regret the divisive, dangerous road they believe Planned Parenthood has taken, and the harmful impact it’s had on women’s health care.”
In order to justify its mammoth commitment to providing abortions, Planned Parenthood claims that only 3% of its “services” are abortion. Randy O’Bannon of National Right to Life has examined this claim and found it to be false. What Planned Parenthood does is count all of its services — abortions, pregnancy tests, birth control packets, condoms, etc., — as if they were equivalent services, even though abortion is considerably more expensive and profitable.
According to O’Bannon, “The truth is that, at going rates, the 332,378 abortions Planned Parenthood performed in 2009 would easily account for not 3%, but at least a third of the group’s clinic revenues. That’s nearly $150 million, hardly an inconsequential amount.”
Planned Parenthood also claims that none of the governments funding it receives goes for abortions. This is specious. Even if PP only spent taxpayer monies on other overhead items, it frees up the PP budget to use what it “saved” on overhead on other things — like abortions and abortion promotion.
Planned Parenthood is aptly and justly named the abortion giant. That is our label and we are sticking to it.
He is both a goat and a hero. James Thomson, a University of Wisconsin researcher, isolated the first embryonic stem cell, igniting the stem cell revolution and contentious debate about whether embryos should be destroyed for research purposes. Thomson also co-discovered induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), an ethical means of reprogramming ordinary skin cells to have the same attributes as embryonic stem cells with no destruction of human life.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that Thomson is this years Gold winner in the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards contest. The award is for his work with ethical iPS cells. Thomson’s company, Cellular Dynamics (CDI) is making literally billions of heart cells using iPS research. “Our hope is it’ll make the drug-discovery process faster and cheaper and lot safer for people,” says Thomson.
The WSJ article states: “CDI says not only is it able to manufacture more than one billion heart cells a day, it also is capable of making cells from any particular individual, which would be critical if stem cells were being placed in a patient for therapeutic purposes. The ability to generate heart cells from a patient’s own skin or blood cells, for instance, would eliminate the potential that the immune system would see the cells as foreign invaders and reject them.” And, therein, lies the beauty if iPS cells — patient-specific cells which the body will not reject. Embryonic stem cells, since they come from a different member of the human family, would be rejected.
Progress and profits from ethical stem cells provide great hope for the future and a win-win outcome. No one is destroyed in the research process, and the patient benefits from ethical research using his/her own cells. Is Thomson a goat or hero? You decide.
Euthanasia and doctor-prescribed death started in the Netherlands and have spread to Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Great Britain, Scotland and Spain are under siege to legalize. A National Review article written by Diederik Boomsma of Amsterdam and Jonathan Price of Great Britain gives a chilling account of how the act of killing, and the philosophy behind it, are spreading in Europe.
Earlier this year, a Belgian couple was euthanized — the husband because of terminal illness, the wife because she didn’t want to live without him. The wife obviously did not meet “criteria” under which euthanasia can be performed so doctors decided that her age and ailments constituted “unbearable suffering.” Mental suffering, declining age and being “tired of life” are emerging “reasons” to justify death. “A 2008 study of the Swiss death clinics Exit and Dignitas claimed that many of those who committed suicide there suffered from weariness of life rather than a terminal medical condition,” state Boomsma and Price.
There is pressure to legalize across Europe including Spain, Scotland and England. In Spain and Britain, the movement has been fueled by award-winning films and documentaries where euthanasia is justified and actual deaths aired on television. In Great Britain, prosecutors recently revealed that, under new guidelines, fewer prosecutions of those who assist with death have taken place if the motive “was compassion and not a desire for personal gain.”
“From first being recognized as a regrettable practice that should be allowed only in the most exceptional cases and under strict regulations, euthanasia is increasingly being presented as a full-blown human right,” according to Boomsma and Price.
There is a small ray of hope. Some Dutch doctors now have regrets about how far the death philosophy has gone. “Many Dutch doctors are also changing their approach,” say Boomsma and Price. “Instead of informing patients about euthanasia, they first tell them about other forms of care. Doctors have found that many very ill patients will agree to whatever they suggest — whether death or treatment.” Except for those patients who demand euthanasia as a right. “We never wanted it that way. It’s as if we doctors are being pushed to cross borders.”
Not all in the Netherlands have the same regrets as these doctors. A group of prominent individuals are pushing for legal euthanasia for anyone over the age of 70. They want the right to die to be included in the Dutch Constitution.
And so goes the struggle all over Europe. In the United States, that same struggle will be in full throttle in Vermont and Massachusetts in 2012 where ominous efforts to legalize doctor prescribed death will be undertaken by legislative action and ballot measure, respectively. Will the USA slide with Europe down the slippery slope? Next year will be a critical one in answering that question.
Planned Parenthood has begun using the extremely dangerous RU 486 web-cam abortion technique in Minnesota. According to Planned Parenthood Minnesota spokesperson Connie Lewis, the organization began providing web-cam abortions at their Rochester, Mn. clinic. This marks the first time that Planned Parenthood Minnesota has expanded its abortion practice beyond its St. Paul, Mn. abortion center.
We have known for some time about Planned Parenthood’s deadly plan to bring RU 486 web-cam abortions to cities and towns throughout the nation. First it was Iowa, then Minnesota. Now it appears Planned Parenthood is set to begin expanding its abortion business here in Wisconsin.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) is already the state’s largest abortion provider but it is not content to limit the performance of abortions to its three abortions clinics in the state. Now it appears it wants to offer dangerous RU 486 chemical abortions to women in towns and cities like Portage, Beaver Dam, Delavan and other Wisconsin locations where PPWI has not previously operated abortion clinics.
Since only a handful of doctors want to perform abortions, it would be difficult for PPWI to expand its surgical abortion operations. But by providing RU 486 web-cam abortions, PPWI can expand its lucrative abortion business without even having a doctor physically present! Web-cam abortions were initiated by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and piloted in Iowa where 2,000 of these abortions took place, with the intention of exporting this technique to other states. A woman enters a Planned Parenthood facility and discusses her abortion by web-cam with an abortionist in another city or perhaps even another state. After the information exchange, the abortionist presses a button which opens a drawer at the woman’s location. Her abortion drugs (RU 486 and prostaglandin, a labor-inducing drug) are in the drawer and the abortionist watches her take the medication via web-cam. The woman is never examined by the physician!
RU 486 and its companion drug are administered between the fifth and ninth weeks of pregnancy, after pregnancy has been confirmed. An RU 486/prostaglandin-induced abortion usually involves three trips to a doctor. About half of the women abort while at the doctor’s office. An additional 26% abort within the next 20 hours – in the shopping mall, grocery store or in their homes, for example. The remainder abort sometime in the next few weeks or not at all. A woman who doesn’t abort is advised to have a surgical abortion because the RU 486/prostaglandin chemicals may have injured the unborn child. RU 486 is not the morning-after pill.
Through April 0f 2011, the FDA reports 2207 adverse events related to the use of RU 486. These events include 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 blood transfusions, and 256 cases of infections. A European drug manufacturer has publicly stated that 28 women have died worldwide after using RU 486.
Given the grave dangers associated with RU 486, Planned Parenthood’s potential plan to bring web-cam RU 486 abortions to towns and cities in Wisconsin should be of grave concern to anyone concerned with the health and welfare of women. Fortunately, legislation is pending in the state legislature to stop Planned Parenthood’s irresponsible plan to bring web-cam RU 486 abortions to cities and towns throughout Wisconsin.
Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Assembly Representative Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh) are drafting the Woman’s Protection Act. Among other things, the Lazich/Litjens legislation requires that the administration of RU 486 or other similar chemicals used to induce an abortion be done in the same room and in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed or provided the drug to the patient. Reasonable efforts to ensure the patient returns for a follow-up visit are also required.
Planned Parenthood’s utter disregard for the health and safety of women is appalling. It would be a tragedy if web-cam RU 486 abortion came to Wisconsin. Their deadly plan must be stopped in its tracks.
The US House of Representatives is preparing to take up HR 358, the Protect Life Act, as early as tomorrow. HR 358 would have the sweeping impact of removing the abortion -expanding components of Obamacare.
To review, the federal health care law, known as Obamacare, was enacted when, at the last minute, Rep. Bart Stupak removed his demands that his amendment to make the law abortion-free be included. Duped by a bogus executive order signed by President Obama, Stupak and his colleagues caved in and we are left with a law laden with abortion components. As the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) states in a letter to Members of the House, Obamacare contains “multiple provisions that provide authorizations for subsidies for abortion, both implicit and explicit, and also multiple provisions that opened doors to abortion-expanding administrative actions.”
Douglas Johnson, NRLC Legislative Director further explains: “The Administration’s 2010 pretense that Obamacare did not expand abortion grows more tattered with each passing month. While running for mayor of Chicago, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel boasted of his role in devising a strategy for ‘the Stupak Amendment not to exist by law.’” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius piled on by telling a NARAL Pro-Choice audience in Chicago last week that “we are in a war” with critics of the law.
The time to act is NOW — TODAY!! Take action to contact your Congressperson here.
Numbers released today by the Department of Health Services show an 8.4% reduction in Wisconsin abortions in 2010 compared to 2009. We are elated to see a continuation of reduced abortions in our state with the bottom line being the lives of babies saved and number of mothers protected from a lifetime of emotional pain.
The DHS report indicates that 7,825 abortions were performed in 2010 compared to 8,542 in 2009, a decrease of 717 aboritons. In addition, the abortion ratio, the number of abortions per 100 live births, fell from 12 to 11. This compares to a national abortion ratio of 24 abortions for 100 live births. The Wisconsin abortion rate, the number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, fell from 8 to 7. The national abortion rate is 19.5.
Once again, Wisconsin is leading the way in abortion reduction, a stated goal of Wisconsin Right to Life over the past fifteen years. We continue to believe that reduced abortions result from young people turning away from abortion as a solution to social problems; Wisconsin Right to Life’s ongoing and comprehensive commitment to educating the public through television advertising and the Internet; and direct help to pregnant women through Pregnancy Help Centers. It is thrilling to know that more Wisconsin women are choosing life for their babies and experiencing emotional health for themselves.
The Washington Post headline is misleading: “Scientists Report Possibly Crucial Advance in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” In actuality, this is a potential advance in human cloning research.(Scientists have long known how to create ES cell lines from destroyed embryos.)
The story, byline Rob Stein, begins vaguely about what was actually done. From the story:
Scientists reported Wednesday that for the first time they used cloning techniques to coax human eggs to generate embryonic stem cells containing the genes of specific patients.
And there’s a junk biology bias penalty flag thrown on the field! If the researchers had obtained stem cells from eggs, it would be process known as parthenogenesis, that is, stimulating the egg to divide. But that isn’t what this was. It was a form of human cloning via a procedure similar–but different as we shall see below–to somatic cell nuclear transfer. SCNT, the process that created Dolly, makes an embryo asexually. That means the stem cells were obtained from embryos, not eggs.
Back to the story, the reporter then changes his story. The cells didn’t come from eggs, but “mutant” embryos.
At the same time, the researchers made the cells by producing and then destroying mutant embryos, whose moral status immediately became a matter of sharp debate.
How were they “mutant?” When the scientists tried to create embryos via standard SCNT, they failed. So rather than taking the nucleus out of the egg before inserting the somatic cell nucleus–as is usually done in SCNT cloning–they left it in. That meant the resulting embryo was “triploid,” that is it had 23 extra (69 rather than 46) chromosomes. That makes these clearly useless in treatments. And as for use in drug or other patient specific research, we already have induced pluripotent stem cells that have the normal set of chromosomes. So, this is more a novel proof of theory, it seems to me, than an actual breakthrough.
So, that means the embryo could never have become a baby, right? Nope. Triploid babies are occasionally born (although they usually miscarry). It is a terminal condition, but they can live for weeks, or even months, after birth. From a scientific paper published in 2005:
Triploidy is estimated to occur in 3% of recognized human conceptuses. Most triploids are aborted spontaneously between 7 and 17 weeks of gestation, while those who proceed to live birth die at an early postnatal stage (Hasegawa et al., 1999). Twenty different clinical features have been described in 69,XXX triploid infants (Doshi et al., 1983). According to the literature, triploid cases with a survival of more than 60 days are very rare (Sherard et al., 1986). In this report we present a case of a 69,XXX triploid infant who survived for 164 days. This is the longest survival reported for this condition to date in Greece. A review of the literature uncovered six cases of a 69,XXX triploid infant who survived more than 45 days.
These children are not “mutants.” They are fully equal human beings born with a terminal disability.
So, this is what I think: Human cloning is intrinsically unethical because it creates human beings (or, if you prefer, human organisms) as a method of manufacture. This process is also, because it creates a human life for the purpose of destroying it in research.
And then there is another problem: These scientists paid women for their eggs to allow their research:
The research was possible because for the first time scientists paid women for their eggs for human embryonic stem cell research, stirring worries about women being exploited and putting their health at risk. At the same time, the researchers made the cells by producing and then destroying mutant embryos, whose moral status immediately became a matter of sharp debate.
Yes, as the award winning documentary, Eggsploitation, (produced by the CBC, for which I am a paid consultant) clearly demonstrates, egg extraction can be very dangerous to women’s health–potentially including death. Egg selling is now allowed in New York, which is how these researchers obtained the gametes. It should be outlawed, and indeed, is generally deemed unethical for use in biotechnological research. Even the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine doesn’t permit it (although watch for a push to allow that to change).
So, this seems the bottom line:
* Scientists still have not succeeded in creating human embryos via usual SCNT processes, at least not that were maintained to the blastocyst stage of embryonic development.
* The 69 chromosome stem cells derived from the cloning procedure are of limited value in and of themselves, although Stein reports that the scientists said the advance could be used to “decipher how eggs reprogram genes.”
* IPSCs are already producing patient specific, tailor made pluripotent stem cells for use in drug testing and disease research, which we were once told would require human cloning to do
Here’s the macro bottom line: Even if IPSCs eventually provide every benefit supposedly to be obtained from human cloning for experimentation (therapeutic cloning), many scientists would shrug and keep on cloning anyway. That’s because the ultimate agenda goes far beyond stem cell research and into Brave New World technologies that require cloning, e.g., genetic engineering, fetal farming and experimentation, and eventually cloning to produce babies. Indeed, some bioethicists already support allowing cloning and gestating to birth.