On Wednesday night, before a packed Statehouse gallery, the Iowa legislature held public hearings on an issue that has spawned debate all across the country. The three-hour proceedings on human cloning illustrated just how divided Iowans are. Most of the scheduled speakers favored overturning the state’s human cloning ban, but they were clearly not representative of the crowded audience who voiced strong opposition to the bill.
While researchers insisted that the law would promote embryonic stem cell research, not human cloning, critics point out that the bill would not only promote human cloning but would legally protect it. State Senator Pat Ward (R-West Des Moines) says the repeal is “not needed, period” because stem cell research without cloning is already happening.
Although scientists argued that the current cloning ban hinders Iowa’s ability to treat disease, one biotech executive disagreed, saying, “The fact that we’re located in Iowa has not hurt our ability to do business with other scientists… [even under] Iowa law.” In an effort to expose this deceitful “stem cell” bill, the Iowa Right to Life Committee and Catholic-based Fidelis have launched a radio campaign to educate citizens before today’s vote. In neighboring Kansas, the House has introduced a bill that forbids the government from funding human cloning research.
Unlike measures elsewhere, this version accurately defines cloning in the terms used by the President’s Council on Bioethics. The state’s scientists are outraged by the language because they fear that the reality of the procedure will deter voters from supporting “progressive” research.
On Wenesday, FRC filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief with our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund in the U.S. Supreme Court case Fausey v. Hiller. We are arguing that the Court should review the case, which would determine if parents can control “third-party visitation rights.” These cases pit a third party (often a grandparent) against a parent in determining whether visits with the parent’s children will be permitted, and on what terms.
Some states have sought to use a standard (“best interests of the child”) that was developed for mother-and-father disputes and to expand that standard to other relatives and parties. In today’s world these disputes can enmesh families where the grandparents are in fact loving in their intentions.
While recognizing this, FRC maintains that before the state intervenes in a decision made by what the law deems “a fit parent,” the only reasonable standard is to put the burden on the third party to show that the child would suffer harm if such visits were denied. Only such a standard can preserve the fundamental right of parents to supervise the upbringing of their children, a right long ago recognized by the Supreme Court as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution. Churches, counselors and other resources can and should employed to help families achieve reconciliation and enjoy the important cross-generational ties that strong families experience.
FRC Action is joining with some of the most influential faith-and-family groups, to host an event guaranteed to change the debate in 2008. Focus on the Family Action, American Values and other invited cosponsors are teaming up with us to host The Washington Briefing 2007: Values Voter Summit October 19-21 at the Hilton Washington in downtown D.C. Last year’s event attracted more than 1,800 attendees from 47 states, and coverage from every major media outlet in the country. With a stellar line-up that featured speakers such as Dr. James Dobson, Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, Bill Bennett, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, House and Senate leaders, and dozens more, The Washington Briefing 2006 exceeded all expectations. This year’s event promises to be even bigger. Registration for 2007 opens March 15. Book your registration before May 15 and receive a $25 Early Bird discount.
Stating that “nothing defines us more as Americans [than] our religious liberties,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales unveiled the Justice Department’s “First Freedom Project” to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee in Nashville on Tuesday. His new Religious Freedom Task Force will step up enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion and will educate churches on how to file complaints about violations of their rights. We applaud Attorney General Gonzales for recognizing the ongoing threat to religious freedom and for taking firm steps to defend our “first freedom.”
A suit was filed on Tuesday in Pennsylvania by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of a 10 year old boy whose freedoms of religion and free speech were violated. During a Halloween celebration, officials at Willow Hill Elementary School in Glenside, Pennsylvania informed the boy that he could not wear a crown of thorns or tell others that he was Jesus.
Alternatively, school officials said that, because his garb included a robe, he could identify himself as a Roman emperor or some other religiously neutral figure. Since both the boy and his mother found the pagan elements of Halloween offensive, they did not want to celebrate Halloween in the typical manner; however, the mother of the boy also did not want her son to feel isolated from his schoolmates simply because he was not wearing a costume.
People everywhere are talking about the baby born after spending less than 22 weeks in her mothers womb. Baby Amillia has been called everything from the pro-life icon, the new poster child for the pro-life movement, miracle baby to small wonder. Her parents are pleased just to hear her name. Yesterday, the Taylors were informed that they could take their daughter home. And even though her development is continually being monitored by medical staff people everywhere are rejoicing at the news.
The media attention Amillia is getting should WAKEUPAMERICA to the fact that life can not be determined merely by length of time in the womb. At 21 weeks, Amillia Taylor was more than just a blob of tissue as the media and pro-choice advocates would want you to believe. Although not fully developed yet, Amillia has attributes of a full term baby only smaller. She had tiny visible toes, wiggly fingers, and a beating heart! Instinctively Amillia knew she had to fight, and fight she did. Doctors are now saying her prognosis is excellent. Amillas continued success embodies the cliche big things come in small packages.
Despite her small package her life has and will continue to have big impact to the pro-life movement. Pro-choice advocates are no longer left to battle a faceless opponent. With every breath taken, Amillia serves as a living testament of what pro-lifers have been saying all along. For those who have closed their eyes and minds to the debate of when true life begins, Amillia is a loud voice resonating in a small body that calls out for us to WAKEUP.
Last week I wrote about Congress’ de-funding of the Baby AIDS program Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) believed the move was retribution by appropriators for his militant stance on spending, as well as for his criticism of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while others claimed the initiative was simply an unfortunate casualty of earmark reform.
The new House appropriations chief David Obey (D-WI) even attempted to use this line of reasoning, claiming “Many worthwhile earmarks are not funded in this measure, but we had to take this step to clear the decks, clean up the process and start over.”
Congressional members, led by appropriators and an army of staff, have already figured out a new way to keep their favors in the money, and it might as well be called 1-800-EARMARKS (which unfortunately is already taken). All across Washington, members are at this moment phoning budget officers at federal agencies—Interior, Defense, HUD, you name it—privately demanding that earmarks in previous legislation be fully renewed again this year.
To ensure this back door option wouldnt be available to Coburn, language was included in the bill that explicitly stated that None of the funds appropriated by this division may be used for the infant AIDS program. Someone at the CDC was apparently still upset over another one of the Senators amendment to move $60 million from the CDC construction program to another AIDS reduction program.
Although the language will try to be overridden, Coburns staff is unsure that the money would actually be used for HIV/AIDS testing and prevention. In a memo to the CDC they wrote:
The state of Iowa is synonymous with farming, but if a dangerous bill passes the House, it could be cloned human embryo farms, not traditional agriculture, that the Hawkeyes will become known for. Yesterday, legislation that would repeal Iowa’s current ban on all human cloning passed through one of the state’s House committees.
The issue is reaching critical importance in the state, as the Senate narrowly voted to lift Iowa’s human cloning ban last week. A vote by the full House is next. Supporters of the bill are using deceptive tactics, similar to the campaign in Missouri, to convince citizens that the bill would not allow human cloning but only permit SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) to generate embryonic stem cells.
Unfortunately, what some voters and legislators may not understand through the fog of scientific jargon is that SCNT is human cloning. This fact shouldn’t be lost on the University of Iowa, yet school officials are urging alumni to support the bill, writing, “Opponents of the bill are saying it will lead to human cloning. It [cloning] is unethical, immoral, and we will never support it.” As the University well knows, the bill under consideration will not lead to human cloning, but instead will legally protect human cloning.