Month Archives: July 2009

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

July 16, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

  • Episcopal Bishops Give Ground on Gay Marriage,” Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times (July 16, 2009)
  • The bishops of the Episcopal Church agreed Wednesday to a compromise measure that stops short of developing an official rite for same-sex unions, but gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless such unions, particularly in states that have legalized such marriages.”

  • Abortion protester denies stepping over the line,” Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times (July 16, 2009)
  • Quebec docs endorse controlled euthanasia,” United Press International (July 16, 2009)
  • The Quebec College of Physicians is proposing Canada’s Criminal Code be revised to permit medical euthanasia in strictly controlled circumstances.

  • Religious expression limits challenged in Santa Rosa County schools,” Florida Baptist Witness (July 15, 2009)
  • The Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), represented by Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, has filed a motion to intervene in a religious liberty case brought by the ACLU against the Santa Rosa County School District. The case stems from allegations made by two Pace High School students that the district and specific school employees were promoting prayer and religion in school.”

  • The Dirty Secret of Embryonic Stem Cell Research,” Michael Fumento, Forbes (July 15, 2009)
  • ”The routine utilization of human embryonic stem cells for medicine is 20 to 30 years hence,” embryonic stem cell research advocate William Haseltine and then-chief executive officer of Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI - news - people ) told Agence France Presse in 2001. “The timeline to commercialization is so long that I simply would not invest,” he added.”

  • New stem cell rules slowing current research,” David A. Wise, WisBusiness.com (July 14, 2009)
  • The Obama administration’s lifting of Bush-era restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research will result in a massive step forward in the long term, a Milwaukee-based researcher said today. But the rollout of the new guidelines has harmed research in the short term, he said.”

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

July 15, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Abstinence Education Is the Key

by Moira Gaul

July 14, 2009

After 30 years of implementation and evaluation, there is no compelling evidence of contraceptive distribution and instruction programs having had a sustained and meaningful effect on “protective” behaviors-that is, “consistent and correct condom use” in classroom-type settings. As a public health intervention method, contraceptive programs have simply failed American youth: An STD epidemic currently exists amongst young people. One in four teenage girls nationwide has an STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the U.S. continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world; and the toll from the negative psychological sequelae associated with adolescent sex is having an impact on mental health and the pursuit of life-goals.

Decreasing teen sexual activity is key to decreasing poverty, since single parenting is strongly linked to poverty. Research shows that the younger a teen starts having sex, the greater risk of pregnancy. A 2002 study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that slmost half of all girls who have sex before age 15 get pregnant, The distribution of contraceptives does nothing to promote healthy relationships, healthy family formation, and marriage, where a greater probability for economic stability exists.

As well as increased risk of non-marital pregnancy, substance abuse and poor academic achievement are associated with teen sexual activity and can affect school drop-out rates. According to data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, those who were sexually active were three times more likely to be depressed than those who were abstinent. By contrast, teens who abstain from sex enhance their abilities to achieve short-term and long-term life goals.

Young people deserve a whole-person approach, including physical, emotional, and psychological dimensions. The primary prevention strategy, or risk-avoidance abstinence approach, provides for a health paradigm in which youth are better able to develop during adolescent years and from which society will benefit.

Moira Gaul is the Director of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the Family Research Council.

This article originally appeared in Business Week on July 6, 2009.

July 14, 1789: The Storming of the Bastille

by Robert Morrison

July 14, 2009

Today is Bastille Day, Frances national holiday. Too bad. The French celebrate an incredibly grisly event. This huge prison in the heart of Paris was a symbol of royal despotism. English-speakers can read about such prisons in works like Dickens Tale of Two Cities. There, the fictional Monsieur Manet, a frail and innocent shoemaker, was swallowed up for yearsimprisoned without a charge, without a day in court. In fact, many an innocent man wasted away in the Bastille. If some personal enemy purchased a lettre de cacheta document that allowed the named person to be packed away, the gates of the Bastille could close forever. But some, like the Marquis de Sade, lived in relative comfort within those massive stone walls.

Only a handful of prisoners were housed in the Bastille when a Paris mobbed stormed its gates. The new governor of the prison, DeLaunay, trying to appease the mob, let the ragged ranks stream into his courtyard. It was his last mistake. Soon, the severed heads of DeLaunay and his guardsmen were being paraded through the streets in what Dickens memorably called the carmagnolea snaking dance of merry-makers on their way to deal in death.

The French Revolution was the greatest convulsion in history. Poet William Wordsworth spoke for many when he wrote: Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/But to be young was very heaven! Millions all over the world identified with the ideals of the French Revolution.

More than any other event, the French Revolution shaped Americas two-party system with Thomas Jeffersons followers favoring the French and Alexander Hamiltons supporters siding more with England. The great Irish Member of Britains Parliament, Edmund Burke, condemned the French Revolution as stirring up the hot alembick of hell. Think witches cauldron.

Why should Christians care? Why should citizens of the United States care? Because the turmoil unleashed by the French Revolution spawned a host of other revolutionsthose in Russia (1917), China (1949), Cuba (1959), and Cambodia (1970). And those revolutions unloosed oceans of innocent blood.

Our Librarian of CongressJames Billington maintains that the French Revolution also spawned the Nazi movement in Germany. His work, Fire in the Minds of Men, carefully traces the malignant ideas of communism and Nazism back to their roots in revolutionary France.

Jimmy Carters domestic advisor, Stu Eisenstadt, described modern American liberalism as drawing upon the ideas of the American and French Revolutions. Hes right. And thats precisely whats wrong with modern liberalism. Carter and Eisenstadt had no use for Margaret Thatcher. She was coming into power in Britain just as they were being swept out of power here.

Prime Minister Thatchers views of this day, and the events it commemorates, should never be forgotten. When she arrived in Paris in 1989 for a G-7 Summit, her hosts were in the middle of celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of the Fall of the Bastilletheir bicentenaire.

French reporters instantly mobbed the Iron Lady. What did she think of their famous revolution? It seems to me it resulted in a lot of headless bodies and a tyrant, she said.

Recovering from their shock, these reporters then asked if the French Revolution had not nonetheless advanced human rights. Certainly not, Mrs. Thatcher replied, resisting the impulse to bop them with her handbag, human rights began with Magna Cartain England in 1215.

Visitors to Washington this summer can see the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and a 1297 version of Magna Carta. Frances latest constitution may be on view in Paris; Im not really sure. There is no truth to the old story that in English libraries, French constitutions are filed in the periodicals section. But the story makes a point.

As we watch hearings in Washington on the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, keep in mind that liberalism would give us a living Constitution, not one that restrains power even as it protects American liberty. Maybe the best place for the liberals Constitution is not in the Archives, but in the Zoo.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

July 14, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

  • Go! New York: Adult Stem Cells Help Ease Arthritis,” Dr. Max Gomez, WCBS (July 14, 2009)
  • As the arthritis epidemic grips hold onto the baby boomer generation, new stem cell research is becoming the cutting edge way to treat osteo-arthritis of the knee, hip, ankle, and even back pain.

    But this research doesn’t include the same embryonic stem cells that couldn’t be used for research during the Bush administration. Instead, the developments use adult stem cells to help treat baby boomers like Robert Wilson.”

  • WVa lawmakers to get both sides on gay marriage,” Associated Press (July 14, 2009)
  • Evangelical Christian groups hope to convince West Virginia lawmakers to put a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage on the state ballot.

    The state Family Policy Council and the national Alliance Defense Fund both plan to weigh in Tuesday at a meeting of a joint legislative committee studying the issue.”

  • Will Episcopal Church move draw in — or drive out— believers?,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today (July 14, 2009)
  • The Episcopal Church is opening the role of bishops to gays and lesbians — and maybe widening the gap between the U.S. church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

  • FEATURE-Generational shift for U.S. Hispanics on abortion,” Reuters (July 13, 2009)
  • A 2007 joint survey by the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center shows that 65 percent of first-generation U.S. Hispanics believe abortion should be illegal. But among second-generation U.S. Hispanics like Ana, that percentage drops to 43 percent.”

  • Arizona governor approves abortion constraints,” Paul Davenport, Associated Press (July 13, 2009)
  • Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday set a new course from her Democratic predecessor on the issue of abortion, signing a measure imposing new mandates and restrictions.

    One of the bill’s provisions is a requirement that those who visit an abortion provider wait 24 hours before getting an abortion. The visit would have to include disclosures by doctors in person about the procedure, risks and alternatives, and the fetus’ probable characteristics.”

  • Christians Remain Tense Amid Honduras Coup Crisis,” Michelle A. Vu, The Christian Post (July 13, 2009)
  • Pushing for ‘personhood’ in the South,” Charlie Butts, OneNewsNow (July 14, 2009)

On Marriage: Lets NOT call the whole thing off

by James Sunday

July 13, 2009

Is marriage doomed? If youre a faithful viewer of the show Jon & Kate Plus 8, youve learned that Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting a divorce. Not only are Jon and Kate calling it quits on marriage, but Billy Joel and Madonna are ending their marriages (again). Its a sad day in Hollywood when Billy Joel cant find love with any of his uptown girls and the material girls material world hasnt bought her lifelong marriage material. Now author and performer Sandra Tsing Loh has issued a doomsday proclamation against marriage in her article, On marriage: Lets call the whole thing off. Loh not only publicly announces her own divorce, but she also calls for other married couples to divorce and questions the relevance of marriage in our modern society.

Loh portrays an apocalyptic world where husbands are addicted to pornography and travel excessively to avoid their wives. Women prefer a glass of wine and a good book to the companionship of their spouse. In Lohs world husbands no longer want to have sex with their wives and women have given themselves over to Twinkies and ice cream bars. Husbands and wives live in Companionate Marriage relationships where love, romance and commitment are destroyed by monogamy and domestic household responsibilities. In place of traditional marriage, Loh offers a glimpse of a world filled with humans that are tribal creatures with open sexual relationships and children who are raised by the tribe. Her proposed new world order offers a sexual utopia where men mow the lawn and other domestic duties in exchange for sex with women.

A couples decision to divorce affects not only their own happiness, but also whether or not their children will be happy in their own future marriages. Read an analysis by Mapping America, a project of the Family Research Council, which shows that children who grow up with both biological parents experience higher levels of happiness in marriage.

Shame on husbands who are addicted to pornography, who dont romance their wives with flowers and date nights. Shame on husbands who dont make love to their wives every time as if its their wedding night. Shame on husbands who place their career before family. Shame on a husband who doesnt love and cherish his wife as if she is the only woman in the world. Equally, shame on wives who arent faithful to their husbands. Shame on wives who have traded their men for a glass of merlot and Mr. Darcy and who have put their career before their families. Shame on wives who have given up on being alluring to their husbands and have traded the affections of their husband for a date with a carton of Ben & Jerrys. Most of all, shame on husbands and wives who have placed the almighty self before the needs of their spouse and family.

I love being married and I cannot imagine life without my wife. Our love story is pretty typical: boy meets girl, girl refuses to go out with boy, girl finally goes out with boy so hell stop asking, girl falls in love with boy, they get engaged, they get married, and live happily every after. There is no doubt that being married has its ups and downs. Im sure that there are moments when its difficult for my wife to love me (especially when I put the pots and pans in the dishwasher and leave my wet towel on the bed).

Regardless of those rocky moments, marriage is a blessing and I wouldnt trade one day of marriage for some alternative sexual revolution where men and women trade sex for building shelves and mowing lawns. Marriage isnt some apocalyptic nightmare; marriage isnt about meeting your own physical, sexual, psychological and career needs. Marriage is about meeting the needs of your spouse and family. A great secret in serving your family instead of yourself: youll find joy, happiness, and fulfillment-youll find your purpose in life. Mark Twain wrote about the beauty and purpose that marriage offers. A marriage…makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, and a new mystery to life.

For Loh, Jon and Kate, Madonna, and Billy Joel, I recommend you contact Mike and Harriet McManus at Marriage Savers, an organization that seeks to ensure the success of marriages and bring healing to broken marriages. Ill also offer you a Welsh blessing, hoping and praying that your families will have better days ahead. Wishing you a House full of sunshine, Hearts full of cheer, Love that grows deeper each day of the year.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

July 13, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

  • NIH received varied responses, some poignant, on stem-cell draft,” Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News Service (July 10, 2009)
  • Although many of the more than 49,000 comments received by the National Institutes of Health on their draft guidelines for embryonic stem-cell research are repetitive, some offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of Americans who don’t want to see embryos destroyed in an effort to cure diseases.

  • Clarence Thomas: The courage of his convictions,” Michael Barone, The Washington Examiner (July 12, 2009)
  • Spain liberalizing, but teen abortion hits a nerve,” Daniel Woolls, Associated Press (July 12, 2009)
  • Spain’s Socialist prime minister has irked his natural enemies on the right and in the Catholic church by legalizing gay marriage and instituting fast-track divorce. Now he has hit a raw nerve even among his supporters with a proposal to let 16-year-olds get abortions without parental consent.

    The debate is harsh and emotional, showing that for all the changes Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has introduced with his trailblazing social agenda since taking power in 2004, abortion remains sensitive in a country where most people call themselves Catholic, even if few churches are full on Sundays.

  • One child rule,” Alisa Harris, WORLD Magazine (July 13, 2009)
  • The Chinese government’s population policy requires delayed marriages and delayed births, meaning citizens have to wait for government permission to reproduce. It also advocates “fewer births”one child in most cases, but two if the first is a girl. The final plank”healthier” birthscovers a policy that Mosher said leads to sterilization and killing visibly disabled babies at birth.

  • House Strips Funding for Abstinence Education,” Christian News Wire (July 12, 2009)
  • Federal funding for abstinence until marriage education was stripped from the budget today in the House subcommittee, led by Rep. David Obey (D-WI). The budget now goes to the full committee and to the full House of Representatives.”

  • Korean bishops reject measure that would allow euthanasia,” Catholic News Agency (July 13, 2009)
  • The Bishops of South Korea have rejected a measure that would legalize euthanasia in the country. Supporters of the measure are euphemistically labeling the proposal death with dignity.”

  • Religion and spirituality: Can faith help you heal?,” Eve Glicksman, KTNV (July 13, 2009)
  • Research suggests there is a link between religion and better mental health and well-being. Some spiritual practices may reduce stress. This may also ease symptoms and help offset the harmful effects of stress on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Some studies have shown that people of faith recover faster from depression, grief and anxiety disorders.”

  • Oak Park man has own stem cells implanted in heart,” Kim Lamb Gregory, Ventura County Star (July 13, 2009)

Change Watch: Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health

by David Prentice

July 11, 2009

POSITION: DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH)

NOMINEE: Francis S. Collins

BIRTHDATE: April 14, 1950 in Staunton, Virginia

EDUCATION:

B.S. in Chemistry, 1970, University of Virginia

Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, 1974, Yale University

M.D. 1977, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

FAMILY: wife Diane L. Baker; two daughters from previous marriage

EXPERIENCE:

2009 Founded Biologos Foundation, to address the tension between religion and science

2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom for contributions to genetic research.

2006 Published book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

1993-2008 Director of National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

1989 Identified gene for cystic fibrosis

1984-1993 Faculty position at University of Michigan

1981-1984 Fellow in Human Genetics at Yale Medical School

1978-1981 Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine, North Carolina Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill

Member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences

Physician volunteer in a rural missionary hospital in Nigeria

Member of the Obama transition team

ON GENETIC MANIPULATION OF HUMANS

I would say the idea that we go in and begin to manipulate our own germ-line gene pool is something that, unless very, very strong argument can be brought forward to the benefit and the theological and philosophical positives, is something we shouldn’t do.

[Source]

The notion that we could eventually take charge of our own evolutionary state and improve ourselves is a chilling one for most people, and especially, I think, for people of faith. The idea is that we would re-engineer the human race by deciding which features we would like to improve upon, such as making ourselves smarter and stronger. But who’s going to decide what’s an improvement? I think any kind of activity where we systematically change our very nature jeopardizes our relationship with God, who I believe was intent on creating humankind in our current state.

The notion of altering DNA that’s going to get passed to future generations, and is of uncertain consequence, does not measure up to most people’s standards of ethical acceptability. It certainly doesn’t measure up to mine.

[Source]

ON GENETIC PRIVACY and NONDISCRIMINATION

It is a great pleasure for me to be standing here today, a day when Congress has finished its work on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 and is sending it to the President for signature. This is a great gift to all Americans. It will make it safe for Americans to benefit from the medical results of the Human Genome Project, in which they invested so much. It will make it safe to have their genes examined without fear that they may be discriminated against in employment or health insurance. This is a great day. …

Finally, I want to thank President Bush, who has been a strong supporter of legislation to protect individuals from genetic discrimination for many years. When he came to visit NIH last year, he called on Congress to send him a bill that he could sign. And now, with the passage of this legislation, I look forward to that day soon when he gives all Americans the protection they need to freely participate in genomic medicine. …

This is a momentous day. Thank you, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, for giving a wonderful gift to the American people: protection from genetic discrimination.

[Source]

Passage of GINA can be credited to extensive efforts by literally hundreds of scientists, patients, lawyers, health care providers, and legislators spanning a decade. However, Francis Collins reasoned arguments that the American public should not have the fruits of the Human Genome Project used against them were of singular importance. The accomplishment of the protections GINA affords serve as a testimony to the good one individual can create in a system that to many seems hopelessly mired in competing interests.

[Source]

ON GENETIC TESTING AND ABORTION

He is also concerned about prenatal diagnosis in the fast-approaching time when the major disease-causing genes are easily detected. He cited with trepidation one survey that showed 11 percent of couples would abort a fetus if they knew it carried a gene for obesity. No such gene has been found; it was a study designed to probe where couples would draw the line. It is difficult to say you can’t abort, but for overall cultural mores, you run into problems, Dr. Collins said. It’s the classic slippery slope. You have a gray scale going from diseases like Tay-Sachs disease that cause death in early childhood all the way to the other end of the spectrum with abortions for sex selection, which most people would say is a misuse of technology. In between is a gray zone. Where do you draw the line? Another problem is that genetic risk assessment does not give absolutes, but instead gives probabilities. It may tell you that you have an 80 percent chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or a 70 percent risk of diabetes, for example. Do you abort a fetus based on a risk rather than a certainty? Dr. Collins asked.

He said he wondered how much genetic information a couple should be entitled to. If people can learn everything that science can tell them about fetuses, he wonders, Will that move us toward homemade eugenics? He worries also that those who have money and resources will try to have the perfect baby, by aborting fetuses with genetic defects, and those who are poor will have to take what they get, creating a sort of genetic underclass.

[Source]

ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH

and CLONING (SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER)

ABERNETHY: Not far behind, says Collins, is the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, asthma and diabetes. Collins is also a strong supporter of stem cell research, and he thinks there’s a way to do this that, for him, removes the moral objections to destroying a human embryo. Collins favors what’s called somatic cell nuclear transfer, in which the nucleus of an egg is replaced by the nucleus of, for instance, a cell of skin.

Dr. COLLINS: Now that is very different in my mind, morally, than the union of sperm and egg. We do not in nature see somatic cell nuclear transfer occurring. This is a purely manmade event. And yet somehow we have attached to the product of that kind of activity the same moral status as the union of sperm and egg. I don’t know quite how we got there.

[Source]

Do you believe that personhood begins at conception?

You mean, is that when we get a soul? Now we’re into theology, and it’s an area where science isn’t really going to give you an answer. The only thing that science can say is that whatever line you draw between the fusion of sperm and egg and the birth of the baby is somewhat arbitrary. On the other hand, that doesn’t prove that the soul exists right at that moment of fusion. Identical twins do not have the same soul, yet they started out as the same union of sperm and egg.

You’re a born-again Christian who suggests that therapeutic cloning could be acceptable. Some other devout people consider it fundamentally immoral. What do you see differently?

There is a difference between doing research on an embryo that was generated by sperm and egg coming together, which is the way human beings are created, versus the very bizarre laboratory phenomenon of taking a nucleus from a skin cell or the udder cell of a sheep and putting it into an environment that takes it back in time to its stem cell state. In public discourse, they’re both called embryos. Even though the somatic cell nuclear transfer approach is a very different biological phenomenon, in many people’s minds it has been all blurred together. As a result, we’ve really missed out on a chance for a much more thoughtful, nuanced discussion, and we’re still trying to recover from that.

[Source]

In the book, Collins also defended research on existing embryonic stem cells, though he has expressed opposition to purposely creating them for research. Collins was present during the signing of an Executive Order by President Obama that reversed the government’s ban on funding stem-cell research back in March.

[Source]

So I think one thing we ought to do is, sort of, tone down the rhetoric and try to get our scientific facts straight. So stem cells— theres lots of different kinds of stem cells. The kind that I think many people are most concerned about are the ones that are derived from a human embryo which is produced by a sperm and an egg coming together. The way you and I got here.

There are hundreds of thousands of those embryos currently frozen away in in vitro fertilization clinics. And it is absolutely unrealistic to imagine that anything will happen to those other than theyre eventually getting discarded. So as much as I think human embryos deserve moral status, it is hard to see why its more ethical to throw them away than to take some that are destined for discarding and do something that might help somebody.

But as a scientist — I would say we are currently not making as much progress as we could if we had access to more of these stem cell lines. The ones that are currently available for federal funding is a very limited set and they clearly have flaws that make them hard to use. But you know what? I think that kind of stem cell research is actually not the part thats going to be most interesting.

The part thats really showing the most promise is to take a skin cell from you or me and convince that cell, which has the complete genome, to go back in time and become capable of making a liver cell or a brain cell or a blood — cell if you need it to. Thats reprogramming. Thats called [somatic] cell nuclear transfer in the current mode. And yet people still refer to those products as an embryo. Well, theres no sperm and egg involved here.

[Source]

It is a classic example of a collision between two very important principles. One is the sanctity of human life and the other is our strong mandate as human beings to alleviate suffering and to treat terrible diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, and spinal-cord injury. The very promising embryonic stem-cell research might potentially provide remarkable cures for those disorders. We don’t know that, but it might. And at the same time, many people feel, I think justifiably, this type of research is taking liberties with the notion of the sanctity of human life, by manipulating cells derived from a human embryo.

[Source]

Stem cells have been discussed for 10 years, and yet I fear that much of that discussion has been more heat than light. First of all, I believe that the product of a sperm and an egg, which is the first cell that goes on to develop a human being, deserves considerable moral consequences. This is an entity that ultimately becomes a human. So I would be opposed to the idea of creating embryos by mixing sperm and eggs together and then experimenting on the outcome of that, purely to understand research questions. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of such embryos in freezers at in vitro fertilization clinics. In the process of in vitro fertilization, you almost invariably end up with more embryos than you can reimplant safely. The plausibility of those ever being reimplanted in the future — more than a few of them — is extremely low. Is it more ethical to leave them in those freezers forever or throw them away? Or is it more ethical to come up with some sort of use for those embryos that could help people? I think that’s not been widely discussed.

[Source]

Yeah, it’s called cloning, which is a very unfortunate term because it conjures up the idea that you’re trying to create a copy of that human being. And at this point, you’re doing nothing of the sort. You’re trying to create a cell line that could be used to substitute for something that a person desperately needs. It would only become a cloned person if you then intentionally decided to take those cells and reimplant them in the uterus of a recipient woman. And that, obviously, is something that we should not and must not [do] and probably should legislate against. But until you get to that point, it’s not clear to me that you’re dealing with something that deserves to be called an embryo or deserves to be given moral status.

[Source]

I would argue that the immediate product of a skin cell and an enucleated egg cell fall[s] short of the moral status of the union of sperm and egg. The former is a creation in the laboratory that does not occur in nature, and is not part of Gods plan to create a human individual. The latter is very much Gods plan, carried out through the millennia by our own species and many others.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 256

I have two problems with cloning. The most apparent one is the safety concern. There will be carnage of unimaginable consequence if we attempt to clone human beings right now. Everything we know about every animal species for which cloning has been attempted indicates that only a tiny percentage give rise to live births that survive for more than a few days. Most of them result in miscarriages, birth defects, and newborn deaths of uncertain cause. Puzzling and troubling outcomes occur when you try to convince DNA from a differentiated cell that it’s actually an embryo again. It is unacceptable, given all of that data, to contemplate the cloning of a human being at the present time.

But of course, even if the safety issues were solved, would human reproductive cloning be an acceptable practice? It wouldn’t be for me. I believe that human beings have come into this world by having a mother and a father. To undertake a different pathway of creating a human being is a profound departure from the normal state of things. I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why we need to do that.

[Source]

Like virtually everyone else, I am strongly opposed to the idea of human reproductive cloning. Implanting the product of human SCNT into a uterus is profoundly immoral and ought to be opposed on the strongest possible grounds. On the other hand, protocols are already being developed to convince a single cell that has been derived from SCNT to be converted into a cell that senses glucose levels and secretes insulin, without going through any of the other steps of embryonic and fetal development. If such steps can result in tissue-matched cells that cure juvenile diabetes, why would that not be a morally acceptable procedure?

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 256

ON THE GENETICS OF HOMOSEXUALITY

An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20 percent (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 260

ON ETHICS, SCIENCE POLICY, AND SOCIETY

First of all, it would be a mistake to simply leave those decisions to the scientists. Scientists have a critical role to play in such debates, since they possess special expertise that may enable a clear distinction of what is possible and what is not. But scientists cant be the only ones at the table. Scientists by their nature are hungry to explore the unknown. Their moral sense is in general no more or less well developed than that of other groups, and they are unavoidably afflicted by a potential conflict of interest that may cause them to resent boundaries set by nonscientists. Therefore, a wide variety of other perspectives must be represented at the table.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 270-271

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