Month Archives: March 2010

Terry Schiavo and a Culture of Life: Looking Forward on the Fifth Anniversary of Terris Death

by Family Research Council

March 19, 2010

As we sit at this cultural crossroads with the grave possibility of government funded abortion looming should the health care bill pass, it is hard to believe that it has been only five years since another battle for life and the dignity of the human person was waged. Unfortunately, that battle was lost and Terri Schiavo died of starvation and dehydration.

Family Research Council will be hosting a panel on Monday, March 29, at 11am, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Terris Schiavos death. Panelists will include Bobby Schiavo, brother of Terri; David Gibbs, lead attorney in the fight for Terris life; Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow at FRC; and Bob Destro, Prof. of Law at Catholic University. The panel is free and a complimentary lunch will be served. Please click here for more information and to register.

ObamaCare: The Greatest Civics Lesson

by Robert Morrison

March 19, 2010

War is Gods way of teaching Americans history, goes a cynical old European taunt. I dont agree with that, entirely. But they have a point. Who among us knew where Fallujah was before 2003? Or where Kandahar was before 2001? Who among us does not know where Gettysburg is and what it means. Or, at least, what it used to mean.

Living through history has a way of making an impact on our lives. We are living through a great moment in our history. Glenn Beck regales Americans nightly with stories and quotes from the Founding Fathers. Its as if this eager, emotional fellow has just discovered them. Hes that enthusiastic. Legal writer Mark Levin holds forth nightly as well. His book, Liberty and Tyranny, rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists. Its an essential primer in the theory and practice of limited government.

Liberals are, predictably, horrified by the likes of Beck and Levin. But they would have been horrified by Thomas Paine, too. Paine was a hard-drinking, failed tax collector and corset maker from England who came to America with no money and even fewer prospects. His book, Common Sense, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It electrified the American colonists and helped mightily to move them to demand independence. His Excellency General George Washington had Common Sense distributed to his ragged soldiers.

John Adams powerfully reasoned arguments persuaded many in Congress. Thomas Jeffersons immortal prose inspired all who loved liberty and language—then and now. But it was Paine who set the grassroots on fire.

The great threat of ObamaCare to Americans life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness cannot be overestimated. It holds the menace of financial collapse for the Great Republic —- with trillions in unfunded mandates. It is precisely what C.S. Lewis described when he spoke of worldly peoples reaction to obvious problems. When the ship is about to founder, they yell: Take on more water!

In a country conceived in liberty, a nation that believes all men are created equal, ObamaCare would fund the engines of death, the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. It would give the official government seal of approval to abortion facilities —- these latter-day tophets —- all over the country. The Obama administration has resisted the Stupak Amendment and every other effort to restrict coverage for abortion.

These heady days remind me of the last great fight we had on Capitol Hill. Back in 1994, H.R. 6, a monster federal education bill, was being debated. Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) had had quietly slipped into its thousands of pages an innocent-looking amendment. In New Jersey, Carolee Adams, a mother and homeschooler, recognized the threat to homeschooling in the Miller Amendment. It could very likely make homeschooling illegal. Carolee, a former Fortune 500 corporate vice president, is a formidable lady. She was not to be head-patted by congressmen or patronized by liberal Hill staffers. Carolee sounded the alarm. Dr. Dobson brought the Home School Legal Defense Associations fearless advocate, Mike Farris, onto his broadcast and, together, they ignited the grassroots.

Then, as now, phone calls poured into the Capitol Hill switchboard. In just eight days, there were three million calls registered in Congress. Many Members of Congress in those pre-cellphone days could not even reach their own offices!

Give them whatever they want, some of these powerful committee chairman said, just tell them to stop calling! The final vote against Congressman Millers amendment was 434-1. Give the Democrat his due, Mr. Miller voted for the Miller Amendment.

I was fielding phone calls at the FRC offices during that eight-day blitz. Many a parent would call me to clarify what their congressmans office had told them. One young mother, homeschooling several very little children, put me through my paces. Whats a conference committee? Whats a committee of the whole? Whats an open rule? Whats the Union calendar?

What does reconciliation mean?

For almost an hour, as the sun sank over the capital, I answered every one of this worried Moms questions. She had gotten to the point where she wasnt trusting anybody. Finally, she sighed.

Okay, youve been honest with me. Ill tell my group of mothers to keep calling our congressman. Then, with some little embarrassment, she said: I have to admit, I was never very good at this civics stuff when I was in high school.

I told her I was never very good at teaching civics when I worked in a high school. What we learned then was that theres nothing like a fight —- a fight for your family, a fight for your country, a fight for your fundamental American liberties—to teach us all.

So, Mr. President, thank you. You have done a great deal to educate all Americans about their government. Anyone who thinks the American people wont know what deem and pass means now, and how it violates Art. I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution is deluding himself. And if this thing passes by schemin and deemin, we just might see some of those deemin Congressmen voted out!

When Did Adultery Become A Means of Finding Truth?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 17, 2010

In response to George Washingtons Farewell Address to the nation of which he was Founding Father, James Madison affirmed the first Presidents claim that morality was essential to liberty: If individuals be not influenced by moral principles, it is in vain to look for public virtue.

Put another way, if virtue is not the companion of our private doings, it will be absent from our public lives, and the larger cultural life of our country. This is logical deduction, of course, and leads to inevitable consequences for our society at large.

Consider former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), who had an adulterous affair with filmmaker Reille Hunter. It occurred while he was a credible candidate for the presidency of the United States and married to a woman suffering from an incurable recurrence of cancer. Yet Ms. Hunter now effuses about their torrid relationship as if it were a thing of rare beauty:

I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that, Hunter told Gentlemans Quarterly. We love each other very much. And that hasn’t changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part.

A mistress using the language of the marriage vow about a man still married to another woman: This is the rhetorical equivalent of pulling fingernails across a blackboard. But Ms. Hunters exposition of moral philosophy is even more striking: I think that he thinks that he (Sen. Edwards) is a much wiser and a much better and a more truthful and a more integrated human being because of their affair, Ms. Hunter tells us.

John Edwards betrayed his wife, his children, his supporters and, in a profound way, his country, in that he did his best to contribute to the moral erosion of our society and our politics. But, contra Ms. Hunter, he has not found truth, not unless its the truth about himself that he lacks an inner foundation of decency, honor or loyalty.

My purpose in this piece is not to fulminate against Sen. Edwards or Ms. Hunter. We all have fallen short of Gods perfect standard, but He offers redemption to us in His grace. It is my hope they will find it.

Rather, what animates my concern is Ms. Hunters remarks. She says what she does with a straight face, claiming that promises made before God lose force when emotional affection wanes and justifying corrupt conduct by asserting it can bring about self-integration (recipe: one part lust, one part selfishness and one part irresponsibility, all fitted together nicely, thank you).

This is wrong. It is wrong based on the teachings of Judeo-Christian revelation. Wrong based on the transcendent, cross-cultural, natural understanding of what it means to stay faithful and do right. And wrong because as a national figure, John Edwards had a duty to set an example, and failed to the point that he fathered a little girl with a woman not his (dying) wife.

Sen. Edwards has not found truth, he has abandoned it. Truth is found in living faithfully with your husband or wife in sickness and in health. Beauty and love are found there, too. Im grieved that John Edwards has lost these irreplaceable gifts, and instead has torn asunder yet one more section of the fabric of American life.

What’s My (ESC) Line?

by David Prentice

March 16, 2010

Remember all the whining and complaining that those old 21 approved “Bush lines” of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) were tired, contaminated, aging, and useless (despite facts to the contrary), and the cry for more and newer lines? And the celebration when President Obama’s new Executive Order and NIH guidelines opened the door to use of many more hESC lines? No more having to deal with those old hESC lines, bring on as many new lines as you can make from destroyed embryos, a cornucopia of hESC lines available from which to choose. NIH approved the first new lines in December 2009, and 44 lines are now available for taxpayer-funded research (a new line, UCSF4 derived in April 2009, was approved on 12 March 2010), and over 100 more lines have been submitted to qualify for funding. Along with an increase in funds for human embryonic stem cell research, all seemed well for wide-open ESC science.

OOPS! Turns out those tired old useless hESC lines were… extremely valuable! They were, and are, the gold standard for human embryonic stem cells. They’re what almost every hESC scientist has studied. They’re thoroughly characterized and familiar cells.

Now, a number of scientists are realizing just how valuable are those well-characterized hESC lines. Despite the increased funding and many more lines from which to choose, many hESC scientists want… those tired old “Bush” lines. They are complaining that so far the new policy is more of a burden than a boon to their work. Some of the scientists say they’re stunned by the irony. Apparently ideology and desire trumped science.

According to Charles Murray at the University of Washington-Seattle

The situation at the moment is worse than it was under the Bush administration. Because of this, we are going to waste a lot of time.”

Timothy Kamp at the University of Wisconsin says of the old hESC lines

They are the main workhorses for many of our projects.”

Julie Baker of Stanford says

It’s a huge setback because we’ve spent about six years studying the biology of that particular line. So they’ve just wasted millions of dollars and lots of resources, which just seems outrageous to me.”

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. There were already rumblings early in the process about whether the old lines would be funded, with one researcher saying that the new Obama hESC policy had a tremendously detrimental effect on our research.

But there were also earlier warnings as well about the science. In April 2006, an article noted almost in passing that 85% of the world used the “Bush” approved lines, whether or not they got NIH funding. The preference was clearly for the best-characterized and most useful lines. Another paper published in October 2006 also found that most hESC researchers around the world used those lines, with a clear preference for three (H9, H1, H7) of the oldest lines originally derived by Thomson in 1998. (Note that (originally 78 lines were identified as “approved”, an effort to ensure that all possible cells were eligible for funding.) In August 2009 another paper repeated the point, showing the predominance of hESC research used just two of the original lines (H1, H9).

Recently, the first (H1) of the tired old lines was approved. But many scientists are still waiting for their favorite, most scientifically useful, line to be approved for federal taxpayer funded research. It remains to be seen whether NIH will propose another change in its so-called ethical guidelines, this time to focus on science rather than ideology. So far the focus has not been on the patients first and the adult stem cell research already helping thousands. Ideology may trump science again.

Extinguishing the Sacred Fire of Liberty?

by Robert Morrison

March 16, 2010

James MadisonToday is James Madisons birthday, his 259th. This small man (5 feet 4 inches, less than 100 pounds) had a huge impact on our country. Not only is he credited with being the Father of the Constitution, he is also known as the Author of the Bill of Rights. Some scholars have even argued that Madison used the process of drafting and ratifying the first ten amendments to the Constitution in order to save the Constitution.

Thats because many anti-Federalists, who had failed to block adoption of the Constitution, were gathering strength to radically overhaul the Framers work in 1789. They sought to amend away some of the newly adopted Constitutions provisions, ones that had been so carefully crafted at Philadelphia.

James Madison had to fight to get elected to the First Congress. Virginia anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry and George Masonrevered patriot leaderswere working to defeat Madison. They carved out a district for the U.S. House of Representatives in which it would be harder for Madison to be elected. Today we call this practice gerrymandering. The word came from Massachusetts anti-Federalist leader Elbridge Gerry, who carved out some districts that looked like salamanders. Gerrymanders, they were and still are.

Henry and Mason even recruited Revolutionary War hero James Monroe to run against the great little Madison. Madison had not expected to have to campaign for election, but he did so. And he campaigned most effectively.

In January, 1789, he rode around the newly-formed congressional district in a carriage with his good friend Monroe. They debated in churches. At Hebron Lutheran Church, they were welcomed inside for the worship and hymn-singing, but church elders in that nest of Dutchmen (Germans) required the two political candidates to go out into the snowy churchyard to discuss political matters. They did so, for a long three hours, with the Lutherans paying strict attention. Even fifty years later, Madison would point to his nose and note that he had gotten it frost-bitten on that frigid Sunday afternoon! (It gives new meaning to the phrase, the frozen chosen.)

Madison won that election and yet maintained a lifelong friendship with Monroe. Madison proceeded to the temporary capital of New York, where he crafted and successfully shepherded through a sometimes reluctant Congress the amendments that would later become our revered Bill of Rights. And heres another irony: Gerry went on to serve faithfully as Madisons vice president.

Atheizers of todayoutfits like the ACLU and professional grousers like Barry Lynnwould have you think that a political candidate going to a church to ask for the votes of Christian citizens is a violation of the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. It traduces the separation of church and state, they claim.

They think they know more about the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights than the man who actually wrote them. Is it likely that James Madison would have gone to New York to make unconstitutional the very process by which he had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives?

The Founders thought Liberty was sacred. Madisons great friend Thomas Jefferson spoke for all when he wrote: The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.

Abortion, the United Nations, and CEDAW

by Family Research Council

March 15, 2010

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend part of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in New York. The CSW is a UN body with power for global policy-making on issues related to women and gender. Every year delegates from member states meet at UN headquarters in NY to evaluate progress and draft policies to promote women and gender equality. The question of abortion is always hotly debated and presented in a variety of creative forms from anti-life advocates.

With the memory still fresh from my first CSW (five years ago) I was much encouraged this year with the number of pro-life lobbyists present. Most lobbyists fell into two categories: generous college students on Spring Break or fed up pro-life moms from the Midwest! Both groups made their presence felt; there was no question that they were a viable force. There were also a significant number of pro-life, pro-family side-sessions, with speakers including Miriam Grossman and Pam Stencil, as well as researchers, MDs, and ObGyns. In particular, one session about the importance of motherhood was attended by approximately 500 persons.

Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, representatives of the Obama Administration werent tuned into the pro-life U.S. citizens present (you know, the American people whom they represent). They were more concerned about advocating for things like the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Ratification, among other things.

CEDAW is a womens rights international agreement of the UN that was first adopted in 1979. Worthy of mention is the fact that this agreement would also advance such policy areas as abortion rights; same-sex marriage; legalization of prostitution; gender re-education; and would negate parental rights. Out of 192 member countries, the U.S. is one of eight not to ratify; ratification would require 67 senators to vote affirmatively.

Despite efforts from previous Democrat Administrations, proponents have not been successful in achieving ratification. But the Obama Administration is actively working to change that. In her remarks to the CSW, Secretary Clinton named CEDAW ratification as a major priority for the Obama Administration. Karen Richardson, Senior Advisor on International Organizations to State Department Ambassador for the Global Womens Issues Bureau Melanne Verveer, spoke at a number of CSW workshops and affirmed that the Obama Administration and in particular Amb. Verveer are working actively with the Hill to ratify CEDAW.

Interestingly, Secretary Clinton also noted in her remarks to the CSW the recent issue article on Gendercide in The Economist, noting that sex selection abortion has left the world with 100 million fewer girls than it should have. While I appreciated the fact the Secretary noted this tragedy in her remarks, I only wish she would make the necessary connection between the abortion rights she so aggressively advocates and the societal ramifications that follow, such as this appalling gendercide reality. Abortion never has been —- and never will be good for women.

Girl Scouts Deny Sex Guide Was at UN Meeting for Girls: But it Was There

by Cathy Ruse

March 15, 2010

Our friends at CFam, the pro-life watch dogs at the United Nations helmed by my husband Austin, issued a blockbuster last week when they revealed that the Girl Scouts had a meeting for girls only at the UN last week which included a Planned Parenthood guide for sex. It was a no-adults-allowed affair; any adult not associated with the Girl Scouts was kicked out.

The Girl Scouts have been officially pro-choice for years. Now theyre pushing promiscuous sex on the girls. Heres an excerpt from page 11 of the Planned Parenthood guide offered at the secret meeting:

Some people have sex when they have been drinking alcohol or using drugs. This is your choice. Being drunk or high can affect the decisions you might make about sex or safer sex. If you want to have sex and think you might get drunk or high, plan ahead by bringing condoms and lube or putting them close to where you usually have sex.

Apparently Planned Parenthood does advocate some limits to sex: It is not okay to have sex with someone who is so drunk or high that they are staggering, incoherent or have passed out. (What prudes!)

C-Fams report has rocketed around the Girl Scout world. Girl Scout officials have issued denials that the brochure was even present at the meeting while faith-filled Girl Scout leaders are up in arms and threatening to leave. C-Fam stands by its report: the Planned Parenthood sex guide was at the meeting.

The Quotable Stupak on Health Care and Abortion

by Cathy Ruse

March 10, 2010

Youve gotta love Bart Stupak, the brave Democrat from Michigan who is standing athwart the Obama-Abortion-Care Juggernaut, yelling, Stop!

Here are some choice quotes (to use a pun) from Representative Stupak from a recent interview with the Weekly Standard:

When the reporter mentioned speculation that Stupak was ready to cave and vote for a health care bill that would force taxpayers to fund abortion, his response was clear: “Obviously they dont know me,” he said. If I didnt cave in November, why would I do it now after all the crap Ive been through?”

President Obamas attempt to get Stupaks vote is both ridiculous and revealing: Apparently the President invited Stupak to the Russian opera last week. (This is reminiscent of candidate Nelson Rockefeller at the working mans bar ordering beers all around and a Courvoisier for himself.) The Weekly Standard writes: Asked if he was a big fan of the opera, Stupak, who represents a district encompassing the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, laughed and said: No, Im not a fan of opera, especially not Russian opera because I wouldn’t understand a thing.

Stupak isnt afraid to call out his own Party, saying that White House officials are “trying to get face time with members to convince them to vote for a bill that no one has seen in writing.”

One Size Doesn’t Fit All for Stem Cells

by David Prentice

March 5, 2010

Scientific dogma has long held that a single stem cell is responsible for all of the components of the blood system. Now in a paper published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a group at Baylor College of Medicine is challenging that dogma. The group found that there were different, distinct adult stem cell subtypes that contribute to different components of the blood system. They verified the “stem cell nature” of these different subtypes by transplanting single stem cells into individual mice, and were able to confirm that these subtypes exist, can maintain a stable population of the stem cells over time, and behave as expected. Senior author Dr. Margaret Goodell said:

From a scientific point of view, it’s making us re-evaluate the view of the stem cells that come from adults. It challenges the dogma that there is one type of stem cell.”

The study has significance for stem cell patient treatments as well. According to Goodell:

People have been looking for purer and purer stem cell types. In doing that, they may not be getting all the stem cell types they need. Maybe in the clinic, it is better to have less pure types.”

Making Buckets of Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

March 5, 2010

Growing lots of adult stem cells in the lab, for study or for a patient treatment, has been difficult in the past. While some groups have successfully grown large numbers of adult stem cells, many labs have difficulties keeping the cells growing for more than a few days. Now scientists at Weill Cornell have shown that culturing adult stem cells with endothelial cells, the cells that compose the innermost linings of blood vessels, is the key to growing unlimited amounts of adult stem cells. The research group reasoned that because endothelial cells line blood vessels and are often in contact with adult stem cells, these cells might play a significant role in the growth and maintenance of stem cells. Using a mouse model, the scientists were able to grow adult stem cells for weeks at a time and increase the number of cells over 400-fold. They also showed that even after one year, there was no indication of tumor formation from the adult stem cells. Senior author, Dr. Shahin Rafii, noted:

This study will have a major impact on the treatment of any blood-related disorder that requires a stem cell transplant.”

Previous work from Dr. Rafii’s lab had demonstrated that endothelial cells are not “passive conduits”

for delivery of oxygen and nutrients but also produce novel stem-cell-active growth factors.

The breakthrough promises broad clinical benefits, from bone marrow transplantation to therapies for heart, brain, skin and lungs. If the system continues to be validated, physicians could use any source of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, grow large numbers, and bank the adult stem cells for transplantation into patients.

The paper is published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

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