Month Archives: August 2008

Leavitt blogs on conscience rights II

by Family Research Council

August 12, 2008

Secretary Leavitt returned to his blog today to respond to some incredible statements that he saw in CQ and which Tony also addresses in today’s Update. I won’t reprint the whole thing here (for that you need to go to his blog here.) However I did want to point out an important point Secretary Leavitt makes:

(A)ccording to Ms. Gallagher’s ideology, if a person goes to medical school they lose their right of conscience. Freedom of expression and action is surrendered with the issuance of a medical degree.

There is something I’d like to point out to Ms Gallagher and the people she represents. It is currently a violation of three separate federal laws to compel medical practitioners to perform a procedure that violates their conscience.

Obviously, some disagree with the federal law and would have it otherwise, so they have begun using the accreditation standards of physician professional organizations to define the exercise of conscience unprofessional and thereby make doctors choose between their capacity to practice in good standing and their right of conscience. In my view, that is simply unfair and a clear effort to subvert the law in favor of their ideology.

This is not a discussion about the rights of a woman to get an abortion. The courts have long ago identified that right and continue to define its limits. This regulation would not be aimed at changing or redefining any of that. This is about the right of a doctor to not participate if he or she chooses for reasons they consider a matter of conscience. Does the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association believe we can protect by Constitution, statute and practice rights of free speech, race, religion, and abortion—but not conscience?

Please submit comments to the Secretary here.

It Only Hurts When They Smile

by Family Research Council

August 11, 2008

For those upset that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has ignored China’s forced abortion policy or its continued persecution of people of faith you can take solace that the IOC has found something about China it actually does finds offensive, the nation’s security forces don’t smile enough. Apparently Norwegian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Gerhard Heiberg took them to task:

The police and military … need to act differently. They have stony faces. They’re seriously scaring the foreigners in Beijing. Something has to be done,” he said.

Thumbnail image for Prickly city - Olympics.gif

The fact that they’re armed and look sinister, just makes things worse,” he added.

Chinese officials took some time out of torturing the country’s political prisoners to respond:

I’ve asked them to get people to smile more,” he (Heiberg) said, noting that his request was met with … laughs.

Sesame Street Turns 39, Isn’t It About Time They Moved Out of Their Parent’s Basement?

by Family Research Council

August 11, 2008

Sesame Street turns 39 today with the start of a new season and I see no better time to wean them from the public spigot. We, as taxpayers, give over $420 million a year to underwrite the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which includes both PBS (which produces Sesame Street) and National Public Radio. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on the Street (back when Snuffleupagus was just a part of Big Bird’s slow walk towards insanity) and my nieces and nephews always have me do my dead on version of Rubber Ducky anytime they see me, however there is no need a billion dollar industry like Sesame Street needs to continue getting federal funding.

Most of the topics of programs seen on PBS now have whole channels dedicated to them like The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, Food Network, etc. Unfortunately both PBS and NPR know how to effectively use taxpayer dollars to lobby Congress to give Rubberduckie1970.jpgthem even more money. Who can forget when Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-eprobate), currently in a taxpayer funded facility himself after taking in more than $2 million in bribes, allowed Elmo, the muppet, to testify before Congress on increased taxpayer funding of music programs. Every time someone suggests cutting the budget of these shows even Republicans in Congress act as crazy as if you were taking Chip’s Ahoy away from the Cookie Monster (I mean of course back before the PC police turned Cookie Monster into a broccoli eating wimp.)

Since its inception in 1967, Congress has appropriated over $8 billion of taxpayer funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this despite the billions in merchandising made from Dora the Explorer lunchboxes and Tickle Me Elmos.

Happy birthday Sesame Street! Now can you move out and get yourself a real job?

How to Lose a Placenta in Ten Days

by Family Research Council

August 9, 2008

Matthew McConaughey, star of movies like Dazed and Confused and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, seems like a pretty cool duuuude, but I hope someone talks to him before he buries in an orchard his recently born son’s placenta. Mr. McConaughey got the idea from a trip down under:

When I was in Australia, they had a placenta tree that was on the river … and all the placentas of all that tribe, all that clan, whatever aboriginal tribe that was, all the placentas went under that one tree and it was this huge behemoth of just health and strength.

This tree was just growing taller and stronger above the rest of Mother Nature around it. It was gorgeous.”

While I am unsure of the fertilizer qualities of the placenta, I am aware of its treatment qualities for human beings. Banking your child’s cord blood and placental stem cells for use in the future could very well save the life of your child or another member of your family.

Leavitt blogs on conscience rights

by David Christensen

August 8, 2008

The pro-abortion industry has pounced on a leaked copy of conscience regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services claiming that the Administration is trying to redefine contraceptives as abortion. Not pointing out that major pro-abortion groups, including medical groups, are trying to force medical personnel to perform or promote abortion—not contraceptives— criticism of the leaked regulations have been picked up by the press. Secretary Michael Leavitt posted a blog yesterday rebutting this claim saying:

An early draft of the regulations found its way into public circulation before it had reached my review. It contained words that lead some to conclude my intent is to deal with the subject of contraceptives, somehow defining them as abortion. Not true.

The Bush Administration has consistently supported the unborn. However, the issue I asked to be addressed in this regulation is not abortion or contraceptives, but the legal right medical practitioners have to practice according to their conscience and patients should be able to choose a doctor who has beliefs like his or hers.

Read Secretary Leavitt’s blog, and to post your comments here.

Sex and the Mexico City

by Family Research Council

August 8, 2008

It appears that Senator Tom Coburn (R-esponsible) was correct in his fears of wasting taxpayer dollars with over one hundred government employees going to Mexico City for the International AIDS Conference, sponsored by the International AIDS Society, the United Nations’ UNAIDS agency and the World Health Organization. C-FAM is reporting the conference is in fact a big pro-abortion push for international mexico_logo_Colour.jpgabortion on demand.

The pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) is hosting three talks during the conference addressing the denial of “medically necessary abortions” to HIV positive women, among other topics. CRR was one of many groups lobbying Congress to turn the recently passed PEPFAR bill into a billion dollar US taxpayer funded international abortion giveaway. C-FAM also points out that the only visible “Catholic” organization to participate formally in the Conference is the schizophrenically named group “Catholics for Choice.” They are the group hosting the discussion Senator Coburn mentioned: “Good Catholics Use Condoms: How to Answer the Tough Questions Surrounding HIV/AIDS Prevention and Religion.”

Perkins Perspective: Last update from Honduras - for now

by Tony Perkins

August 8, 2008

There are many things we take for granted in the U.S, safe and reliable water, electricity and internet access. Cart.jpg

As we prepared to say good bye to our friends at Antioquia Evangelica Bautista Iglesia, we had an opportunity to take in some of the scenery as we visited Lancetilla Botanical Garden outside of Tela. Lancetilla is the second largest tropical botanical garden in the world, with a various species of trees from tropical climates from around the world. As we hiked through, our guide would routinely point out the various fruit bearing trees and let us taste their fruit. Lancetilla.jpg

As we spent our last night together, we reflected on how a team of 47 people, many of whom did not know each other one week ago, worked together to touch the physical and spiritual needs of over 2,000 people. In the process, we gave these Hondurans a different view of Americans than what their televisions have provided.

Based on what I saw and the discussions we’ve been having about our future efforts in Honduras to help the orphaned children in Tornabe, I am sure at some point there will be more updates from Honduras again. But for now I am headed back to the States to defend faith, family and freedom! For those who joined us in praying for our trip - THANK YOU!

As they say down at the post office, “here’s looking up your address”*

by Family Research Council

August 8, 2008

The Post Office, not usually the source of a smile, does give us two stories today that might do just that (even if it isn’t intentionally.) In the first story a 6-foot-tall, 250-pound letter carrier is campaigning the U.S. Postal Service to add kilts as a uniform option for men. Calling them Unbifurcated garments, our trendsetting mailman pled in a letter “Please open your hearts — and inseams — for an option in mail carrier comfort!”Stamp Flag.jpg

In an even more embarrassing story for the Postal Service, though a good one for philatelist, the government agency found that one of its “Flags 24/7” series appears to have 14 stripes, and not the normal 13 strips representing the original 13 colonies. I have no idea if the extra stripe has anything to do with Senator Barack Obama’s (D-esperate) claim he has visited 57 states.

*A quote by Cliff Clavin from Cheers

More iPS Disease-Specific Cells, Less Reality About Cloning

by David Prentice

August 7, 2008

More disease-specific cell lines have been generated, again without using embryos, eggs, or cloning. Researchers at Harvard announced they had produced 20 new human cell lines using the iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cell technology. The technique directly reprograms a normal cell, such as a skin cell, using 3-4 genes added to the cell via viruses. The iPS cells behave like embryonic stem cells but do not use embryos, eggs, or cloning, avoiding any need to create, destroy, or harm any human embryos. Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka developed the technique first in mice, then used the identical technique for human cells, without use of human embryos or human embryonic stem cells for any of his research.

The Harvard researchers developed disease-specific stem cell lines from patients with ten different diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Type I (Juvenile) diabetes, Down’s syndrome, and two types of muscular dystrophy. The Harvard team, led by George Daley, said the point is not yet to treat anyone, but to get as many researchers as possible experimenting with these cells in lab dishes to better understand the diseases. Their hope is that the cells will provide clues for how the diseases develop, and possibly be used to test for drug treatments. A similar disease-specific cell line for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) was announced recently by another Harvard lab. Doug Melton, co-director of Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute, said it is important to simply understand the diseases. “We don’t even know when a patient gets diabetes if each patient gets it the same way,” Melton said. “There could be 50 different ways.” Melton plans to generate 50 diabetes-specific iPS cell lines from different patients in the next year. The goal of the Harvard core lab facility is to create 50 to 200 new iPS cell lines each year, in addition to hundreds expected to be made in other Harvard labs and around the world by other investigators.

The creation of these new disease-specific stem cell lines would seem to ring the death-knell of cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer, SCNT). Supposedly the ability to reprogram a normal cell into a stem cell was the ultimate goal, allowing scientists to make cells that were disease-specific and patient-specific, for laboratory study and potentially for treatment. The cloning technique creates an embryo that can be destroyed to harvest its stem cells for experiments, or that can be implanted in a womb for gestation and birth. But cloning has never worked well, and requires a tremendous number of eggs, risking the health of women (see Pining for Clones, Whining for Eggs.) Yet despite his new success with iPS cells (and previous failures with cloning), Daley says cloning technology is still superior. “The egg does it faster and better,” he said. Well, maybe, if it actually worked, theoretically. In the same way that, theoretically, a Star Trek transporter might be better than an elevator. But only one will get me there now, reliably, repetitively. And maybe fantasy is superior to reality in some current biotechnology circles. But the evidence indicates that now the only real use for cloning technology is to birth clones.

The study is published in the August 8 issue of the journal Cell.

Ezra Pounds the Human Rights Tribunals

by Michael Fragoso

August 7, 2008

Via NRO I see that Ezra Levant, a Canadian magazine publisher, has been acquitted by the kangaroo Human Rights Tribunal that had been investigating him.  His account of the acquittal-and further denunciations of his inquisitors is here.  I once heard Levant speak here in Washington and he was just as full of justified indignation then as he seems to be now.  In Canada these tribunals have been used by radical Muslims to silence critics of Islam and by homosexual activists to silence religious speech they find offensive.

On the Islamic side, the experiences of people like Levant are dangerously close to the experiences of those who live in Muslim countries and have to face “blasphemy laws.”  These blasphemy laws are a growing problem in many countries, since they are often used to repress religious minorities and to silence political opponents.  They also are part-and-parcel of a growing problem at the international level, namely the ten-year effort to establish “defamation of religion” as a prohibited action by customary international law.  In other words it would be a blasphemy law as an international norm.  (The Becket Fund has been watching this issue carefully, especially as it would affect established religious liberty.)

On the Christian side, the Canadian tribunals might be a forerunner of what we might see in the United States with expanded hate-crimes laws and same-sex marriage.  As Levant mentions in his piece, one Canadian man of the cloth has already been forbidden to discuss certain tenets of his faith.  In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was also brought up on charges for denouncing homosexuality (see our brief in the case here).  At least in Green’s case, however, he was tried in standard courts, and acquitted.  As Levant points out, these tribunals are far murkier and less accountable for their actions.  (“The process is the punishment,” I heard him say.)  Their slow importation into the United States poses a serious threat to religious liberty, as we are already learning in places like New Mexico.

So congratulations to Ezra Levant, but we should pay close attention to his story, lest it just be a prologue for similar petty tyranny here in the United States.

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