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.
Gosnell and his staff made inadequate efforts to resuscitate Mrs. Mongar.
Sherry West told detectives that, some time after Williams had sedated Mrs. Mongar, Williams came out of the procedure room, yelling that “she needed help.” Liz Hampton testified that she was in the room next to the procedure room when Williams emerged and said that she was having a problem. Although Hampton could not remember if Gosnell was in the procedure room when Williams came out, West said that when she subsequently entered the procedure room, Gosnell was there performing what she thought was CPR on Mrs. Mongar. Eileen O’Neill eventually came in to assist Gosnell, according to West.
O’Neill testified that Lynda Williams summoned her from her second-floor office. The unlicensed “doctor” told the Grand Jury that she thought Mrs. Mongar was already dead by the time she got to the procedure room. Nevertheless, she took over administering CPR to the lifeless body because, she said, Gosnell was not doing the CPR correctly. Gosnell, meanwhile, left to retrieve the clinic’s only “crash cart” from the third floor. A crash cart is usually a set of drawers or shelves that contains the tools and drugs needed to treat a person in or near cardiac arrest.
After returning several minutes later with the medicine case, however, Gosnell did not use any of the drugs in it to try to save Mrs. Mongar’s life. O’Neill said that she tried to use the defibrillator “paddles” to revive Mrs. Mongar, but that they did not work. Still no one called 911.
Even though an overdose was immediately suspected as the cause of Mrs. Mongar’s cardiac arrest, O’Neill testified that Gosnell instructed her not to administer Narcan, a drug that could have reversed the effects of the Demerol. She said that Gosnell told her it would not work on Demerol– which is not true according to the toxicology expert who appeared before the Grand Jury. O’Neill testified that Gosnell took the time to look through the case of medicines and that he was “thrilled” to find it was up-to-date.
This is puzzling, since he seemed to have no intent of actually using the drugs to try to save Mrs. Mongar.
Gosnell and his staff attempted to cover up the cause of Mrs. Mongar’s death before paramedics arrived.
Gosnell’s odd behavior–retrieving the clinic’s case of emergency medicines from the third floor, appearing thrilled that the case supposedly was up to date, and then making no effort to use the supplies to resuscitate his patient –can only be explained as a cover-up: He simply wanted to have a “crash cart” on hand when the paramedics were finally summoned. Gosnell clearly knew it was a violation of the law–as well as of the standards of the medical profession–to sedate a patient without having resuscitation drugs and equipment ready for use.
In fact, when the ambulance was finally called, the paramedics noted that the patient had no IV access for administering life-saving drugs. Someone had evidently taken out the IV access that had been used that afternoon and evening to administer sedatives. No one told the paramedics that Mrs. Mongar had been given heavy doses of Demerol before her heart stopped. There is no other explanation than that Gosnell was trying to hide from the paramedics the cause of Mrs. Mongar’s cardiac arrest. The effect of this deception was to further delay potentially effective efforts to save the patient’s life.
It is also odd that Gosnell placed Karnamaya Mongar’s feet in the stirrups of the procedure table before the paramedics arrived. Eileen O’Neill and Ashley Baldwin both testified that they remembered clearly that the patient’s legs were dangling off the table when they saw her lifeless body before the paramedics were called. Yet, when the paramedics arrived, her feet were in the stirrups, as if she had just undergone the abortion procedure.
This action by Gosnell was, again, entirely for appearances – an effort to prevent the paramedics from noticing that the monitor was unplugged. Ashley said that Gosnell knew the machine was broken and had been for months. He had said he would get it fixed, but he never did. She said it shocked her when she tried to plug it in the night Mrs. Mongar died.
Just when you thought the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell could not be more stomach-turning, Sherry West, a former employee, testified Monday that she recalled hearing one child “screaming” after the baby was delivered alive during an abortion at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joseph A. Slobodzian reported that four years ago West was asked to help out with a problem. Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, West explained.
“There was this clear glass pan and I saw it and I thought, ‘What do you expect me to do?’” West testified today at Gosnell’s murder trial.
“It wasn’t fully developed,” West told the Common Pleas Court jury, referring to the 18- to 24-inch long newborn in the pan. It didn’t have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise. It was weird, it sounded like a little alien.”
So what happened to the baby (whom West testified she called the “specimen” because “it was easier to deal with mentally.”)? West said she didn’t know. The child was one of the largest babies she had seen delivered during abortion procedures at Gosnell’s clinic, West told the jury.
“It really freaked me out and I said call Dr. Gosnell and I went back out front,” West added.
West said that although she lacked training, she learned to perform ultrasound exams on pregnant women, and administer oral and IV sedatives and medication. (She said she learned from other staff members, including a 16-year-old.) According to Slobodzian, when 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, of Virginia, went into cardiac arrest during an abortion procedure on November 19, 2009, West was there. Mongar died that night at a local hospital, because of an overdose administered by Gosnell’s untrained staff, the prosecution charges.
West testified about what happened when paramedics were called. It took time to get into the building because no one had the key to the back door which was padlocked. Sean O’Sullivan of The [Delaware] News Journal reported
“Prosecutor Pescatore also walked her through the incomplete and conflicting medical records from Gosnell’s clinic where it is not clear what drugs were administered, by who and when. She testified that at least one notation by Gosnell – that Mongar was feeling no pain afterward – was completely wrong.
“However, West, who now has long hair pulled back in a ponytail and uses glasses to read, often answered ‘I don’t know’ to prosecution questions and often had to re-read previous statements she made to police before recalling important details.”
West also testified that there was a staff meeting several days after Mongar died.
But “It was not to review medical protocols to prevent a reoccurrence,” Slobodzian reported. “Instead, Gosnell instructed them on what to say to police or other investigators. West did as she was told and also relayed back to Gosnell information about what was asked of her during police interrogations.”
Gosnell is also on trial on seven counts of 1st degree murder in the deaths of seven viable babies allegedly aborted alive and then killed when their spinal cords were cut.
“New prenatal tests for genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome are reshaping care for expectant mothers, but their rapid rollout has raised fears that poorly understood results could lead to confusion among patients and doctors managing high-risk pregnancies,” according to Christoper Weaver reporting in the Wall StreetJournal.
A new market is emerging which “examines traces of fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream.” One company conducted over 61,000 tests in 2012 to feed the insatiable quest to learn about an unborn child, with one of the primary goals to prevent children with Down syndrome or other anomalies from being born. There is confusion in the research community as to whether these should be called “tests” or “screenings” because they assess risk rather than provide a definitive result. There is also confusion about results which could “contribute to the abortion of healthy babies,” states Weaver.
The screening is desired because it is simpler than the more conclusive amniocentesis and can be done earlier in pregnancy, at around 10 weeks. Some insurers are covering the screening which could cost as much as $2,700. The FDA, which has been working on proposals to regulate these types of tests, is asking the companies who are marketing the screenings to provide more information.
A new era indeed, and one that is not favorable to babies with anomalies.
A Brazilian doctor has been charged with killing seven patients by administering muscle-relaxing drugs and then reducing their oxygen supply with asphyxia as the resulting cause of death. Why? Prosecutors who charged Dr. Virginia Soares de Souza listened to wiretaps of her conversations and learned that her motive was to free up hospital beds in the intensive care unit for other patients.
“I want to clear the intensive care unit. It’s making me itch…Unfortunately, our mission is to be go-betweens on the springboard to the next life.” De Souza said in the recordings.
Authorities are combing over 1,700 medical records of patients who died over the past seven years in the intensive care unit managed by De Souza and estimate the number of suspicious deaths may reach up to 300 cases. According to a Reuters article, “If prosecutors prove that De Souza killed 300 patients, this could be one of the world’s worst serial killings……”
Last week, a Florida Planned Parenthood lobbyist publicly endorsed infanticide. It is the logical outcome of abortion on demand for the full nine months of pregnancy — the ability to decide whether the baby who survives an abortion attempt should live or die.
The lobbyist’s comments came at an exchange with a Florida legislator at a committee hearing on a bill which would provide medical care and legal protection for infants born alive after a failed abortion.
“So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” said Rep. Jim Boyd to the Planned Parenthood lobbyist. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”
“We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” said Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa Snow.
Essentially, Planned Parenthood believes that the abortion “right” is so paramount, that it gives the woman the right to a dead baby.
If you think promotion of infanticide is just an isolated instance, think again. Planned Parenthood has prominent allies that flirt with infanticide. Then Senator Russ Feingold, in responding to direct questioning during debate on a federal partial-birth abortion ban about a baby born alive in a botched abortion, said pretty much what Snow said at the hearing. When President Obama was a State Senator in Illinois, he blocked passage of and voted numerous times against a bill similar to the Florida legislation.
And so the culture of death marches on to its logical conclusion — that vulnerable human life can be protected only when those closest to the person decide his/her life is worth saving.
It was in late March eight years ago when the nation and the world watched in disbelief as Terri Schindler Schiavo was starved and dehydrated to her death. Her crime for receiving such a harsh and heartless sentence? She had severe disabilities.
Terri did not go quietly. Her family fought for years in court to become her caregivers. Terri’s husband fought just as hard for her death, claiming that Terri verbally stated she would not wish to live as a person with disabilities. Sadly, the courts agreed with the husband.
Terri’s story put a name and face to the growing practice in the United States of depriving very sick or disabled people of food and water, and attempting to call it humane.
Terri is not forgotten in the hearts and minds of all who followed this case with sadness and horror, and certainly not by her family who has established a foundation in her name. The foundation responds to pleas for assistance for people in similar circumstances. Rest in peace, Terri, knowing that your story and legacy live on to help others in your circumstances.
It has been a busy winter for Compassion and Choices (C & C), the leading pro-euthanasia group in the country. Undaunted by its November 2012 loss when Massachusetts voters failed to endorse a ballot measure to legalize assisted suicide, C & C is clearly targeting other northeastern states, working to gain a major foothold in that part of the country.
Here is an update on what is occurring in the U.S. regarding assisted suicide:
Vermont: The Vermont Senate passed a bill which replaces the original Oregon-style assisted suicide law with one that does the following, according to the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Care: Last week the Vermont Senate approved the Galbraith/Cummings amendment which effectively ended (at least in the Senate) the original physician assisted suicide bill (S.77) introduced by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The original bill was replaced entirely by a one page piece of legislation that accepts current practice in which a physician may prescribe pain medication in order to relieve physical symptoms in terminally ill patients. The bill also provides immunity for physicians if a patient self-administers a sufficient number of pills to end his/her life. The bill also provides immunity for family members who may be present and witness this act. The bill, S. 77, is now in the House which is expected to take it up on April 2 for hearings and action.
New Jersey: A 3328, a bill to legalize assisted suicide, passed in a House committee and could be taken up by the full House at any time.
Connecticut: A public hearing was held last week on H.B. No. 6645, a bill to legalize assisted suicide.
Maine: A bill to legalize assisted suicide, LD 1065, was just introduced.
Montana: A bill to prohibit assisted suicide, HB 505, passed in the House and had a Senate hearing yesterday.
Hawaii: A bill to legalize assisted suicide has been introduced.
Kansas: A bill to legalize assisted suicide has been introduced.
Minnesota: In a court case involving an official of Final Exit Network, a judge (Asphaug) ruled that the “advising” portion of the state law prohibiting assisted suicide was overbroad and therefore unconstitutional, while “encouraging” can be narrowly construed and passes constitutional muster. In another Minnesota court case, an ex-nurse is asking the State Supreme Court to overturn his conviction for aiding the suicide of a young woman over the Internet.
New Mexico: A case brought by two doctors asking the court to declare the New Mexico law prohibiting assisted suicide unconstitutional is pending.
Assisted suicide (also called doctor-prescribed suicide) is a “sleeper” issue that is creeping into targeted states with a goal by C & C to corner the northwestern and northeastern states and then move inward. Watch for the latest developments here, because you won’t read or hear about them in the media.
The reported acts of Kermit Gosnell, Philadelphia abortionist, are unspeakable. Now he is on trial for seven counts of 1st degree murder for allegedly performing very late-term abortions, delivering live babies, and then killing them by “sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord,” according to the Grand Jury report which led to his indictment. Gosnell is also charged with one count of 3rd degree murder in the death of one of the women he aborted. In all, he faces 43 criminal counts which include drug delivery resulting in death, corruption of minors, evidence tampering, theft by deception, abuse of corpse, and corruption.
Here are some reported descriptions of Gosnell’s horrendous a actions:
1. Gosnell hired unlicensed, untrained workers who worked in his filthy, unsanitary facility which operated with utter disregard for the health and safety of women. Gosnell himself was not qualified under Pennsylvania law to perform abortions. His clinic was not inspected for 17 years, despite registered complaints.
2. When an inspection finally took place, authorities found bags and bottles scattered around the clinic which housed the bodies of aborted babies and baby parts.
3. Gosnell took in $10,000 to $15,000 a night for the few hours he spent performing abortions.
4. Gosnell also operated an illegal OxyContin drug clinic.
5. A lethal overdose of drugs killed one of his patients.
6. An employee witness testified at his trial that “she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies during unorthodox abortions at a West Philadelphia clinic,” as reported by the Associated Press. The employee, Adrienne Moton, “…sobbed as she described her work at the clinic….She once had to kill a baby delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors….”
7. Employees reported that Gosnell cracked jokes after slitting the neck of a baby.
8 When Gosnell’s employees wanted abortions, they went elsewhere, knowing they would fare better than in their employer’s clinic.
Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, played “the race card” at trial, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, and accused city officials of a “prosecutorial lynching” because Gosnell is black.
It’s difficult to report about what occurred in what has been called the Gosnell “House of Horrors,” and hard to believe this could happen in America.