Month Archives: June 2009

Is Planned Parenthood Bending the Rules?

by Krystle Gabele

June 30, 2009

Lila Rose of Live Action Films exposes an Alabama Planned Parenthood clinic of “bending the rules” of mandatory reporting for sexual abuse.

Posing as a 14-year old, Rose told a counselor at the Birmingham clinic that she was pregnant by her 31-year old “boyfriend” and needed a secret abortion to avoid her parents finding out about her relationship with an older man. The counselor, then proceeded to tell her that the OB-GYN, Dr. Desiree Bates, “sometimes bends the rules a little bit,” and mentioned that everything will remain confidential.

Bending the rules on sexual abuse…there are laws strictly prohibiting this practice in Alabama (and around the country for that matter). According to Alabama Code 26-14-3, health care professionals are REQUIRED to disclose suspected cases of sexual abuse to state officials immediately. In this case, a 31-year old sleeping with a 14-year old is Statutory Rape, which is sexual abuse.

This Planned Parenthood clinic also violated, yet another obvious law (Alabama Code 26-21-3), in which a parent must sign the consent to allow an abortion for a minor to take place. The counselor informed Rose that a signature from an older sister over 18 would suffice for the parental consent.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 29, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 25, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Precision Adult Stem Cells, Not Embryonic Sledgehammers

by David Prentice

June 25, 2009

Adult Stem Cells, Not Embryonic Stem Cells, Best Suited For Muscle Repairsledgehammersmash

New research published online in the journal Nature suggests that adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells, are appropriate for use in therapies for repairing damaged and diseased muscle. Researchers from Maryland and Indiana report that experiments with mice show the genes involved in muscle development are turned off soon after birth, and are not used by adult stem cells that repair muscle. Lead author Christoph Lepper said “I thought that if they are so important in the embryo, they must be important for adult muscle stem cells. I was totally surprised to find that the muscle stem cells are normal without them.”

In their paper the authors note:

Changes in genetic requirement for muscle stem cells from embryonic to juvenile to adult stages elucidate the inadequacy of applying knowledge gained from developmental studies to adult stem-cell biology. Our discovery should encourage future investigations into how widespread genetic transitions may occur in different adult stem-cell types. Age-dependent differences in stem-cell properties should also urge careful consideration of the age of stem cells used in transplantation-based regenerative medicine.”

The implications? Studying embryonic stem cells is an inadequate substitute for directly studying how adult stem cells carry out their normal repair functions in the body, and embryonic stem cells themselves are inadequate substitutes for adult stem cells in medical therapies. In other words, don’t use a sledgehammer instead of precision equipment.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

June 23, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

My Pops Pelican Hooks

by Robert Morrison

June 19, 2009

[caption id=”attachment_1374” align=”alignleft” width=”182” caption=”Drawing of a Pelican Hook”]pelicanhook2[/caption]

Your father was a real hero, Manual Dias told me. The 88-year old World War II veteran had contacted me in 2008. He knew my late father when the two men served in the Merchant Marine together. I made a point of visiting Manny and his wonderful family in Massachusetts this spring.

Manny remembered every detail of the sinking of the SS Deer Lodge on 17 Feb 43. Your father ran around the deck unlatching the pelican hooks on the rubber boats. That was not his assigned duty. Without that, many of our crewmen would have died, Im sure. Manny corrected an earlier misimpression Id had: that my father ran around cutting the stays for those boats and pitching the boats overboard. No, Manny said, if hed done that, the boats might have struck some men in the water. The boats could have killed them. No, Pop had to unlatch those pelican hooks one-by-one, as the ship was rapidly sinking.

[caption id=”attachment_1373” align=”alignright” width=”182” caption=”Photo of a Pelican Hook”]Photo of a Pelican Hook[/caption]

My father, Leslie Morrison, passed away at the age of 87, in 1998. He was loved and honored by his entire family. But this contact with one of his dearest friends and shipmates thrilled me. It was like a message in a bottle. Or, like a message from heaven.

My dad talked about the sinking of the Deer Lodge, of course. He never claimed to be a hero. He always minimized his own role that fateful night. He never mentioned those pelican hooks. When he and his shipmates were rescued, Pop told me they were taken to a nice hotel in South Africa. Mostly, Pop regaled us with stories of how he got to play tennis every day for six weeks with the rather attractive South African womens tennis champion.

When my cousin Barbara interviewed Pop on the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking, she was amazed. Pop told her that when the U-boat skipper finished questioning the men in the life boats, he had simply turned the submarine around and steamed away. Wasnt that horrible, my cousin asked, just to leave you there? At least he didnt shoot us, Pop answered.

Manny told me much more about that German U-boat commander. He was a humane man. He gave us water, food, and charts.

Through my own research, I had learned that the German submarine was the U-516 and her skipper was KorvettenKapitan Gerhard Wiebe. I was astonished, too, at the extraordinary kindness of Captain Wiebe.

Manny told me that Captain Wiebe had delayed sending in the second torpedo to finish off the Deer Lodge. If he had followed up his first fish with a second, just minutes later, he could have killed dozens of the seamen clambering over the sides of the stricken American vessel. But something in his heart told him to hold back. Was there a single case of an American submarine commander providing such aid, say, to a Japanese freighter he had just torpedoed?

Growing up, I had been surprised at my fathers complete lack of bitterness toward the Germans. He had survived that sinking, true, but his elder brother Harry had been torpedoed in the South Atlantic just a few months before Pop was. Harry was first rescued by a Dutch merchant vessel off Brazil. Then, that ship was torpedoed and Harry and almost the entire crew were lost. Pops attitude reflected the wisdom of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The line between good and evil runs not between classes or nations, but through the heart of every man.

Along with treasured photographs of Pop in my study, I keep a plaque he gave me. It shows a German U-boat in brass, mounted on a plain wooden background. It reminds me of that incredible story of the high seas. Its a tale of honor, courage, forgiveness, and humanity in the midst of the most terrible war. And Ill thank God for all that my father meant to me and to my own family.

Obama Terminates Bioethics Council

by David Prentice

June 19, 2009

The President’s Council on Bioethics is no more. With a one-day notice, the members were told in a letter from the President that their services were no longer required. Pack up, get out. Forget the fact that they had a couple of interesting reports coming out soon, one more meeting, and that the Council’s tenure would expire come this September.

Peter Lawler, member of the now-defunct Council, notes that he is reassured when the letter states that “President Obama recognizes the value of having a commission composed of experts on bioethical issues to provide objective and non-ideological advice to his Administration.” Maybe it’s because the President wants to change to bioethics. Maybe it’s because he’s smarting a bit because, when he issued his new executive order opening the door to more human embryo research and cloning, 10 of the 18 current Council members criticized his new policy. But a more likely reason is that he needs a philosophical, well-stacked bioethics rubber stamp.

The National Institutes of Health, as directed by the President, is crafting new guidelines for federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. After a short period soliciting comments on their proposed guidelines, they are scheduled to release the final guidelines no later than July 7. It would be embarrassing to have another round of criticism from an existing “President’s Council.” Better to show them the door.

The proposed guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research are more limited than what the President proposed. NIH draws the line at using “excess” embryos from fertility clinics, though they note that the guidelines can be changed whenever they want. But President Obama called for much more, including cloning of embryos for experiments. A number of scientists have chafed and whined at the proposed NIH limits on embryo creation and destruction.

Dr. Alta Charo, an ethicist at the University of Wisconsin and member of the Obama transition team, said that a new commission should focus on helping the government form ethically defensible policy.

Translation: rubber stamp.

Look for a new commission soon with members that will be ideologically in line with the White House, Charo to be a member, and the new commission swiftly to consider (and to agree with the President) the issue of stem cells, cloning, and embryo experiments.

The now-former President’s Council on Bioethics was constituted in 2001, and chaired first by Leon Kass and then Ed Pellegrino. It’s mandate was “Advising the President on ethical issues related to advances in biomedical science and technology.” Pellegrino is quoted on the current site: “To advance human good and avoid harm, biotechnology must be used within ethical constraints. It is the task of bioethics to help society develop those constraints and bioethics, therefore, must be of concern to all of us.” You might want to take a look at their accomplishments before their website is erased.

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