The world just changed. An international consortium of scientists have announced that they have successfully cloned human beings using the process that led to Dolly the sheep. They were able to develop four cloned embryos in a dish to the ”blastocyst” stage, the point in time when an embryo can be implanted in a uterus or destroyed for stem cells. The scientists here did the latter.
This is huge news–reproduction as replication. The door is now open to the development of Brave New World technologies such as genetic engineering and the birth of cloned babies. As I wrote in my book on these issues, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World:
“We can pursue biotechnology to treat disease and improve the human condition, while retaining sufficient humility and self-restraint to keep ourselves from endangering the intrinsic value of human life. Or, we can hubristically rush onto the very anti-human path warned against by Aldous Huxley, driven by our thirst for knowledge, vast profits, and obsession with control and vastly expanded life spans.
“These issues are too important to be ‘left to the scientists.’ Nor can we afford to allow the marketplace to determine what is right and what is wrong. The stakes are too high, the potential impact on each and every one of us too profound, to remain passive and indifferent to the decisions that are to be made. It is our duty to participate in the crucial cultural and democratic debates over biotechnology. The human future, quite literally, depends on it.”
I will write more extensively about this shortly. In the meantime, hold on to your hats–the culture wars just got more intense and divisive.
The trial of Kermit Gosnell has lighlighted the violence and pain that is associated with abortion. The trial focused on the unspeakable horrors Gosnell inflicted on babies born alive after late-term abortions. But the few inches separating a child in the womb from one outside the womb does not spare a child from excruciating pain during an abortion procedure.
Scientific medical evidence demonstrates that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain, certainly by 20 weeks after fertilization. At this time, all the physical structures necessary to experience pain have developed. Unborn children react to painful stimuli and their hormonal reactions consistent with pain can be measured.
Abortion procedures used at 20 weeks and further into pregnancy, most commonly the D&E method where the child is dismembered limb by limb, are extremely painful to the unborn child. The fact that the unborn child can experience severe pain from abortion provides additional verification that this child is a human being deserving of protection.
In 2011, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that 114 abortions took place in Wisconsin of babies over 20 weeks gestation.
In order to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, Wisconsin Right to Life is strongly supporting the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act authored by Representative Erik Severson and Senator Paul Farrow. Under the Farrow/Severson legislation, no abortion could be performed or induced unless the physician performing the abortion makes a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child and no person could perform or induce an abortion if it is determined that the probable gestational age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or more. The prohibition would not apply in a medical emergency.
Kermit Gosnell snipped the spines of babies who were born alive after attempts to abortion them. But those babies would have died just as painfully if he had killed them while still in the womb, as is the case in most late-term abortions. It doesn’t make any difference if the abortion takes place in a filthy clinic like Gosnell’s or a Planned Parenthood facility…the result is the same…an excruciatingly painful death. Performing elective abortions on pain capable children is cruel and should have no place in a civilized society. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect these children.
Following an epic battle of life vs. death, the State of Vermont passed a law which allows a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a patient who is terminally ill. Governor Shumlin is expected to sign the measure into law. A strong, committed coalition of opponents, which included Wisconsin Right to Life, fought valiantly for over 10 years to keep doctor-prescribed suicide at bay. The 2012 elections and a Governor who ran on a platform of doctor-prescribed suicide prevailed, and Vermont will now join Washington and Oregon as states where doctors can prescribe lethal meds.
The new Vermont law is crafted after the Oregon law but has a sunset provision which allows government guidelines to expire after three years, leaving doctors free to do as they please. Guidelines in Oregon have proven to be weak, but Vermont will not even have those.
Doctor-prescribed suicide is the prelude to euthanasia and a recipe for elder abuse. Vulnerable patients can be pressured or coerced into requesting suicide pills. Since no medical person is required to be present when the hundreds of pills are taken, a person who will benefit from the patient’s death could be complicit in the death. In Oregon, two patients who requested payment for chemotherapy from the Oregon health department were denied and instead told the State would pay for suicide pills, even though the patients did not request them. Suicide rates are rising nationwide, especially in Oregon, which can be viewed as a natural outcome when suicide becomes a “good.”
Wesley J. Smith predicts that “as the doctor-prescribed death movement advances, its proffered restrictions get progressively weaker.” Activity in numbers of states to legalize death is an ominous trend which must be aggressively fought as Wisconsin Right to Life has done and will continue to do in our state.
Kermit Gosnell is guilty, and justice has been done. According to one courtroom observer, Gosnell seemed surprised that he was found guilty, and it is that aspect of his cold attitude that describes the monster he is. If sane, moral people had tried to conjure up the most monstrous abortionist alive, they would have been hard put to come up with the atrocities committed by Gosnell. Our fear that he would be acquitted is unrealized, and America is once again a nation with a conscience which recognizes a grave injustice.
The jury found Gosnell guilty of first degree murder on three counts for killing babies who survived his abortion attempts and third degree murder in the death of the woman who died at his hands. The question is now raised as to why it is perfectly legal to brutally kill babies in the womb, but not outside of the womb. In the abortion context, location is everything, whether it makes sense or not. We look forward to the day when the abortion nightmare is over, and all babies in the womb are recognized in life and in law.
Suicide is in the air. Our culture–particularly exemplified by the media–is becoming increasingly pro suicide. Perhaps better stated, many are now pro some suicides. Indeed, if a suicidal person is sick, disabled, even mentally ill, many believe it is perfectly fine for a doctor to facilitate death through intentional overdose, and many families now support their loved one’s self-killing.
In mental health journals, some writers distinguish between “rational” and “irrational” suicides, with only the latter being something to be deeply regretted and prevented. Movies extol suicides and euthanasia, as in Million Dollar Baby. Jack Kevorkian has been transformed by blatant revisionism from the real-life ghoul he was–driven by the obsession to experiment on living people he was killing–into a compassionate Muppet-like character. Suicide prevention still exists, to be sure, but it receives ever less emphasis in our increasingly nihilistic society.
So, why should we be surprised that there has been a sharp increase in suicide rates in the USA generally, with an even higher spike at Assisted Suicide Central, e.g., Oregon?
New figures showing a sharp increase in suicides across the nation among middle-aged Americans show an even bigger increase in Oregon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows Oregon saw a 49.3 percent increase in suicides among men and women aged 35-64 from 1999-2010, compared to 28 percent nationally. A 2012 report on suicide trends and risk factors for the Oregon Health Authority found the state’s overall suicide rate was 41 percent higher than the national rate, that rural counties have higher rates of suicide than urban ones, and that white men lead other demographic groups.
It should be noted here that the OHA doesn’t include legal assisted suicides in its suicide rates. So, the actual rate is worse than reported.
When we approve of some suicides, the existentially suffering don’t necessarily distinguish between those that are deemed OK and those that aren’t. There are many other factors at work, of course. But I believe that assisted suicide advocacy helps drive the meme that suicide is an acceptable answer to serious difficulties, weakening the societal bulwarks that sometimes prevent people from bringing their desire to be dead to completion.
Adorable two-year-old Hannah Warren has a new lease on life, thanks to the windpipe doctors crafted using her own stem cells. Without this trachea transplant, Hannah’s parents were told she would likely die.
Hannah was born in South Korea and has spent her entire life in the intensive care unit there, breathing through a tube. The Warrens read about the success of Dr. Paolo Macchiarini in building tracheas using stem cells, but couldn’t afford this experimental transplant surgery which had not been performed on children. A Catholic hospital in Illinois offered its facility and waived its fees, bringing in Dr. Macchiarini to perform Hannah’s surgery. The nine-hour operation took place on April 9 but was just made public. The hospital considers this enormous act of kindness a part of its mission to champion ethical stem cell therapy which does not involve the destruction of human life.
According to Henry Fountain writing for the New York Times, “To make Hannah’s windpipe, Dr. Macchiarini’s team made a half-inch diameter tube out of plastic fibers, bathed it in a solution containing stem cells taken from the child’s bone marrow and incubated it in a shoebox-size device called a bioreactor. Doctors are not sure exactly what happens after implantation, but think that the stem cells signal the body to send other cells to the windpipe, which then sort out so the appropriate tissues grow on the inside and outside of the tube. Because the windpipe uses only the child’s own cells, there is no need for drugs to suppress the patient’s immune system to avoid rejection of the implant.”
Dr. Macchiarini, Fountain writes, “described a look of befuddlement on the child’s face when she realized that the mouth tube was gone and she could put her lips together for the first time. ‘It was beautiful.’ he said.” Hannah tasted her first real food and is reported to be interacting playfully with hospital staff. A beautiful child who indeed has a new lease on life.
“If I talk, maybe people will make sure it won’t happen again.”
That’s what 20-year-old Desiree Hawkins told me last week as she recounted the horror of visiting abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in December 2009. The jury in Gosnell’s trial for the alleged murders of multiple babies and one woman heard closing arguments Monday afternoon, but they won’t hear from Hawkins.
Hawkins was forced to relive the nightmare of Gosnell’s house of horrors when she was contacted by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent this year. The agent told her that one of the severed feet found in jars at the clinic belonged to her aborted baby. She was set to testify as a rebuttal witness against Gosnell until he chose to not take the stand.
When she was 16, Hawkins sought an abortion at a National Abortion Federation-certified abortion clinic, Hagerstown (Md.) Reproductive Health Services. The clinic told her she was 19 weeks pregnant and referred her to Gosnell. When she recently retrieved her file in anticipation of testifying, she was shocked that her sonogram showed she had in fact been at 21 weeks, which meant she would have been 23 weeks pregnant by the time Gosnell performed the abortion. “I was so overwhelmed and hurt,” said Hawkins. “If I had known I was 23 weeks, I would have (chosen) adoption.”
She also would have avoided the trauma visited upon her by Gosnell. Hawkins described the licensed medical professional as laughing at her during the procedure as she cried and begged him to stop because of the pain. “Stop being a baby,” he said.
Hawkins experienced betrayal anew when she read the grand jury report replete with testimony of government officials admitting they ignored repeated complaints about Gosnell because they didn’t want to limit access to abortion.
Said Hawkins, “What really got me was when the (health department official) just said, ‘People die.’ They just decided to look the other way.” She is passionate that “someone needs to make sure all states’ departments of health … are preventing this from happening.”
Abortion rights advocates have asserted that Gosnell was an “extreme outlier” and opposed legislation to increase regulation of Pennsylvania abortion clinics as they have in other states. But how could they possibly know that this is an aberration?
Last week, Ohio officials shut down an abortion clinic after inspectors found that a medical assistant administered narcotics to five patients, that narcotics and powerful sedatives weren’t properly accounted for, that pharmacy licenses had expired and that four staff members hadn’t been screened for a communicable disease.
This month, a Delaware TV station reported that two Planned Parenthood nurses resigned in protest over conditions at a clinic there. One nurse, Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, said, “It was just unsafe. I couldn’t tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was.”
Last month, Maryland officials shut down three abortion clinics, two for failings in their equipment and training to deal with life-threatening complications.
Last year, an Associated Press investigation found that Illinois hadn’t inspected some abortion clinics for 10 to 15 years. After state health officials reinvigorated their clinic inspections in the wake of Gosnell, inspectors closed two clinics, including one fined for “failure to perform CPR on a patient who died after a procedure,” according to AP.
Such problems wouldn’t be a shock to Pennsylvania state Rep. Margo Davidson, the only member of the Democratic black caucus to vote for the abortion-regulation bill passed there. She told me, “We don’t know how many (Gosnells) there are. I’m not trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, but if a woman makes this difficult choice, she should at least be afforded the highest level of care.” She said the choice community knew what was going on and did nothing.
Indeed, the grand jury found that the National Abortion Federation inspected Gosnell’s clinic, refused to certify him, but didn’t tell anyone. Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood representative Dayle Steinberg has admitted that its officials knew the clinic was unsafe after women complained. What did they do? “We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health.”
Davidson concluded that for the choice community, “the institution was more important than the individual lives.” Davidson knows firsthand what can happen when people choose to look the other way: Her 22-year-old cousin died after an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic.
Kirsten Powers is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, a Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Daily Beast.
As the trial of Kermit Gosnell stretches into its sixth week, the atrocities reported by eyewitness on the stand are horrendous. Volumes can and have been written about each one, but I will touch on highlights here:
A former staffer testified that Gosnell and his staff once tossed a breathing baby who survived an abortion into a shoe box.
The same staffer stated that she witnessed at least 10 babies breathing after botched abortions who died when their spinal cords were cut with scissors. She took photos of these children, the filth in the abortion clinic and one of the baby boy tossed into the shoe box.
Babies were heard moaning or screaming when born alive after the botched abortions and saw babies jump when stabbed.
Witnesses testified that Gosnell had sub-standard practices, used outdated and filthy equipment, hired people with no medical training, and reused disposable curettes to do abortions.
Patient records were covered with blood.
Gosnell showed no remorse over emotional testimony about the overdose death of one of his patients.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health failed to inspect Gosnell’s clinic for many, many years.
Gosnell is a monster and his story that of which books are written and movies are made. Will Gosnell be convicted? Will anyone expose his practice to the public? Time will tell.
Great Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which oversees fertility treatments and embryo research in that nation, recently approved fertility procedures that would amount to the genetic engineering of children through cloning (nuclear transfer) technology and germ-line modification, resulting in a “three-parent embryo” that would have genetic material from two mothers and one father.
Proponents of such an unprecedented step provide a therapeutic rationale to justify taking it: the fertility procedures envisioned are aimed at creating embryos free from mitochondrial defects which can give rise to serious diseases and defects after birth.
Researchers in Great Britain have developed a method that attempts to remedy this and create an embryo free of mitochondrial defects it would otherwise contain. To achieve this, researchers use a cloning technique called pro-nuclear transfer (PNT): the father’s sperm is used to fertilize the mother’s egg which contains the defective mitochondria, creating one embryo. However, a second egg from a donor, containing healthy mitochondria, is also fertilized, producing a second embryo. The nuclei from both embryos are removed, thus destroying them both. The nucleus from the embryo with the defective mtDNA is placed in the de-nucleated embryo “shell” with the healthy mtDNA. The resulting third embryo, which is then implanted in the mother, thus has genetic materials from two mothers and one father, thus the phrase “three-parent embryo”.
The procedure itself is currently illegal in Britain, as British law prohibits implantation of embryos that have been genetically modified, as this procedure does. The HFEA now favors changing the law to allow this procedure to eventually become a routine part of fertility treatments there.
While the goal of trying to prevent mitochondrial-caused diseases is of course a worthwhile one, the ethical alarms set off by this way of doing so are numerous.
Most obviously, the procedure destroys two embryos in order to produce a genetically modified third one. And because this is a new technology, there is no way of knowing what the impact will be on the child created through this experimental three-parent technique. The child would be born with the DNA from the father, the mother and the woman who donates (or sells) her egg. This is human experimentation on progeny who are incapable of giving consent.
Finally, there is the problem of the risks to otherwise healthy young women who are being asked to donate their eggs. Should the “three-parent” procedure prove effective and become routine, the amount of eggs this procedure would require would be considerable, in addition to the large number of eggs that would be needed to carry out the research needed to get to that point.
The risks entailed by getting eggs outside of a woman’s body are present in the short and long term, as women must undergo injections of powerful hormones to cause the ovaries to produce many eggs in one cycle. Among the many known risks to this procedure, the most severe is ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), which in rare cases causes death. The medical literature indicates that young women are more at risk for developing OHSS, just the target audience for this practice. In addition, there are the risks associated with anesthesia and the surgery necessary to remove the eggs. Longer-term risks, such as the risk of harm to the donors’ own fertility or the risk of later developing cancer, are more unknown because of the lack of long-term follow-up and study of the women.
The health risks of egg donation are serious and not fully understood. Because of the lack of follow-up and tracking of egg donors, those who do suffer complications are not reported in the medical literature; therefore the risks are underestimated. This lack of academic study and peer-reviewed publications on the aftermath for these women clearly makes informed consent impossible. Coupled with the payment-for-eggs plan, informed consent is even more coercive. Women who have financial need, even if told the risks, will assume that risk because of their financial need.
The goal of eliminating mitochondrial disease is praiseworthy. Yet advances in science should not come at the expense of our core humanity. To allow this procedure would do far more damage to that humanity in the long run, as it would be a major step toward the engineering and commodification of human life.
By Jennifer Lahl, President of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Networ, and Gene Tame, senior analyst for the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Excerpted from article published by LifeNews.com.
Volumes have been written about the murder trial of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell by pro-life writers. Not so much by the broader media. Fox News has covered the trial piecemeal and it just hit the conservative talk show circuits this week, even though the trial is into its fifth week. There was a breakthrough this week when major news sources, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, were shamed into sending reporters to the trial.
Some “liberal” commentators have admitted they are deliberately avoiding coverage of the trial because they don’t want to damage the abortion “right.” Pro-abortion groups have been silent, basically refusing to condemn Gosnell’s atrocities. They call his abortion practice an “outlier” which does not happen in other abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood — its lips are sealed.
The President has been silent. When mouthpiece Jay Carney was finally confronted by a reporter, Carney said: “The president is aware of it. The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won’t as well.” So much for any credible commitment on the part of the President to human rights.
Eyewitnesses to Gosnell’s grisly practice have testified to so many gruesome activities in the clinic that it’s difficult to find space to put them into one piece. The American people deserve to know about the atrocities committed, as difficult as they are to hear. It is only then that we will expose the abortion “right” for what it is — the deliberate, brutal killing of the most helpless members of the human family.