Category archives: Life & Bioethics

Adoption Agency Gets Techie

by Maize Pyburn

October 14, 2015

A recent article from Live Action News details a new approach being taken by an adoption agency to get the pro-life message out to women about to have an abortion. The article explains that Bethany Christian Services (BCS), a global nonprofit organization that provides services such as adoption, foster care, and pregnancy counseling, will use geo-fencing to reach out to women in abortion clinics.

For those unfamiliar with the term “geo-fencing,” it’s a location-based service that can send messages (i.e., advertising) to anyone who enters a pre-set location. A company or organization can select particular locations — in this case, BCS selects abortion centers — into which to send their ads.

So, when someone enters a particular abortion clinic and opens up the internet or an app, geo-fencing allows BCS ads to appear in the app or on the webpage. The intended end result, of course, will be that the woman leaves the clinic and seeks out the assistance of BCS or another pregnancy care center.

Thinking outside the box by creatively using technology is just what the pro-life movement needs to propel its message further — even to the darkest corners of abortion clinics.

A Planned Parenthood Lexicon

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 13, 2015

To understand Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) public statements concerning the videos released this past summer showing its coarse and predatory sale of the body parts of unborn children, reflection on two passages from a couple of great books is worthwhile:

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of (the state), but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods.”

George Orwell, 1984

Language shapes thought. It defines the content of our thinking such that we revert, by mental default, to using words we are used to hearing regarding various subject matter.

An example: When I think of the Grand Canyon, I think of the amazing canyon in Arizona whose depth, variety, and sheer size are both beautiful and remarkable. However, had I been conditioned to think of this geographical wonder as dangerous and hideous, my mental conception would be starkly different.

Words are used to depict or describe; when they are used dishonestly — when they distort one’s understanding of a person or event or idea — they are weapons against intellectual integrity and morality itself.

Planned Parenthood has developed a lectionary, accepted pro forma by the secular Left, to describe its various activities. Not unique to PPFA — this same set of words and phrases is used by the popular media and liberal politicians, as well — nonetheless the brazenness of the organization in using its specialized and euphemized vocabulary has elevated verbal and intellectual misrepresentation to a new level of hypocrisy.

This lectionary is articulated in an announcement made today by PPFA President Cecile Richards. In a letter for National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, Richards said “the organization’s affiliates will no longer accept any reimbursements for costs associated with procuring tissue from abortions.”

Consider just one of the terms used in the letter: “fetal tissue.” When one thinks of tissue, usually it is of the flesh around our bones. Tissue samples are removed and studied; innocuous and common, right?

PPFA is not referring to a “donation” of such “tissue.” It’s speaking of the scavenging of organs of unborn children aborted late in their pregnancies. Dr. Deborah Necotola, Senior Director of Medical Services for the PPFA, explains what her organization really means by “tissue:”

You try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver … so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact … I’ll actually collect what you want sometimes, and put it aside … Why not? I’m right there. Oh, for sure, I mean to me, I don’t know, it makes the procedure that much better.”

Then there’s the term “reimbursement.” PPFA’s decision to end its “reimbursement” scheme amounts to the employment of another euphemism, at best; the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress imply that PPFA has a high profit motive for its organs-for-sale business.

The reality is that there is no cost to PPFA in providing infant cadavers to tissue procurement organizations (TPOs). As David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress wrote to congressional leaders in August,

We now know from Cecile Richards’ letter that $60 per collected tissue specimen is what will “get a toe in” to harvest baby parts at Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest. Like other TPOs, (Advanced Bioscience Resources) handles all dissection, packaging, and shipping of fetal organs and tissues, and so it is unclear for what PPPS could be receiving “reimbursement.” This is especially suspicious given that Ms. Richards says the $60 fee is paid “per tissue specimen.” Thus, if ABR harvests a liver and a thymus, a common fetal tissue order, from an 18-week fetus aborted at the San Diego clinic, Planned Parenthood receives a total payment of $120 from that case. It stretches credulity to believe that ABR’s technician harvesting two organs from a fetus costs Planned Parenthood $120 — this is a new revenue stream off of fetal tissue with no real cost to Planned Parenthood, and thus a criminal profit.

In sum, as Notre Dame Law School professor O. Carter Snead told the Associated Press today, “Planned Parenthood’s decision is clearly an effort at damage control — to preserve its carefully cultivated (and ferociously defended) image as merely a women’s health care organization. Nothing Planned Parenthood has done today will change its role as the world’s leading abortion provider.”

Indeed. In the words of Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Diane Black, quoted in the same AP story as Snead, “It is curious that, while Planned Parenthood officials maintain there has been no wrongdoing, they still find it necessary to change their policy following the recent undercover videos. Clearly, this was a decision motivated by optics rather than the organization’s conscience.”

And as Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said, “It is clear that Planned Parenthood knows it is wrong to profit from the sale of baby body parts, but their decision to stop selling organs doesn’t change the fact that Planned Parenthood still profits from the death of children. This organization still engages in the inhumane treatment of children, and our federal government forces taxpayers to give them their hard-earned money. Congress must continue all investigations into their grotesque practices and remain committed to defunding them.”

At this stage, even Big Brother would walk away from trying to market Planned Parenthood. Will Congress? Will the White House? Let us pray to that end.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day” and Planned Parenthood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 5, 2015

Since 2006, October 15 has been designated by Congress as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States.

This day is intended for the remembrance of “pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes but is not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or the death of a newborn.”

This is a lovely recognition of the painful loss of a baby, something millions of Americans have experienced.  It’s a loss no parent ever wants to know.

Exactly one week before this date, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining Abortion Procedures and Medical Ethics at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” The hearing, which will take place in the Rayburn House Office building, will address issues raised by the release this summer of a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the details of harvesting organs from aborted unborn children — and even discussing techniques for aborting those children so as to optimize the collection of their body parts.

The irony is almost overwhelming: We are rightly compassionate toward women whose loss of their littles ones causes such pain, but the Left is fiercely defending the nation’s largest provider of abortion by trying to discredit the organization that revealed its evil behaviors and minimizing the gravity of what Planned Parenthood does to almost-born babies.

The late Anglican theologian John R.W. Stott, writing about abortion and its related wrongs, wrote this more than 25 years ago:

Any society which can tolerate these things, let alone legislate for them, has ceased to be civilised. One of the major signs of decadence in the Roman Empire was that its unwanted babies were ‘exposed’, that is abandoned and left to die. Can we claim that contemporary Western society is any less decadent because it consigns its unwanted babies to the hospital incinerator instead of the local rubbish dump? Indeed modern abortion is even worse than ancient exposure because it has been commercialised, and has become, at least for some doctors and clinics, an extremely lucrative practice. But reverence for human life is an indisputable characteristic of a humane and civilised society.

The only thing that has changed is the further coarsening of our culture and the greater number of unborn deaths.  And that’s why the battle for life and for the dignity of women preyed upon by the abortion industry goes on.

Pro-life leaders support Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

by FRC Media Office

September 22, 2015

Arina Grossu, Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, joins Sen. Lindsay Graham and other pro-life leaders in support of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when unborn babies become susceptible to intense pain in the womb.

A Simple Equation: pro-life + pro-marriage = pro-family

by Erin Amsberry

August 7, 2015

On Monday, 100 groups and organizations signed a letter urging members of Congress to vote against the proposed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. It should come as no surprise that next to the usual abortion defenders such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, stood gay activist groups like the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign. This letter reminds us that while the abortion and gay “marriage” movements appear to be quite different, in reality, both are alike in that they present a clear affront to the family.

There is no dispute that the last few months have been significant ones for the future of the family. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court, through judicial activism, redefined an institution long-established as the foundation of society — marriage and subsequently, family. While the root of society has been attacked on one front, strides are being made to strengthen it on another. Many organizations, private citizens, and legislators are calling for legal action to be taken against Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, after videos surfaced suggesting a breach of federal law. One cannot ignore the strong connection between the fights for life and natural marriage, as they are alike in their significance and the similarity of the political battles that they face.

The similarities between Obergefell v. Hodges and Roe v. Wade abound. Those advocating abortion and same-sex marriage have disrupted social norms, used the courts to impose their worldview, and attempted to silence individuals who hold to the truth about marriage and the value of human life. The pro-life movement responded to Roe v. Wade by refusing to accept the decision as a settled debate; they continued to speak against abortion even though it was accepted as legal. The pro-marriage movement must respond in the same way to Obergefell v. Hodges. Public opinion did not shift overnight in the pro-life fight and there is admittedly much work yet to be done, but particularly at the state level, great strides have been made toward ending abortion.

The pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” movements are also similar in that they redefine terms and distort values. Abortion suggests that human life only has value once it is desired. Legalizing same-sex unions reduces marriage to nothing more than a contract between consenting adults. Both of these ideologies fail to recognize the more substantive nature of reality – that life is inherently valuable and marriage is much more than attraction between adults.

Same-sex “marriage” and abortion are inextricably linked because both attack the very foundation of society. A society that lacks a proper view of children relegates family to the status of a social institution which provides nothing more than companionship. Rebuilding a culture of life with a rightly understood value placed on children requires a proper view of sexuality since as social science research suggests, sexual license increases the incidence of abortion. There is much work to be done in influencing culture with the truth about marriage and life.

The alliance between pro-abortion and the gay rights supporters reveals that instead of standing solely for life or solely for marriage, pro-family advocates must unequivocally stand against all attacks on the family. Pro-marriage advocates can and must work with the pro-life movement toward the same goal of strengthening the family. As the gay activist and pro-abortion coalition letter reminds us, being comprehensively pro-family means standing up for the natural, intact family at all times, whether that means protecting life from conception to natural death, discouraging no-fault divorce, or upholding marriage between one man and one woman as God designed. Ultimately, all of these efforts influence one another.

Internal Chinese Populations

by Chris Gacek

June 29, 2015

China is now a world power, and we at the Family Research Council have commented on the brutality and inhumanity of its “one child” policy for years.  An excellent, recent article made clear that China’s severe population control policies exist on many levels – not just abortion.  Their harshness, however, puts the forced abortion diktat in a broader context of disregard for human beings.

The important Weekend Financial Times article (4/30/2015) by Jamil Anderline entitled, “China’s Great Migration.”  The focus of the story is a woman named Xiang Ju and the trek she makes from [x] to her rural homeland in China to celebrate the Chinese lunar New Year.  Along the way, Anderline fills in some basic facts about Chinese life – that are unknown to almost all Americans (I believe):

Not that Xiang Ju cares. She is about to join an annual ritual that is not only the biggest human migration but probably the biggest mammalian migration on earth each year. In 2015, an estimated 170 million people caught trains or flights out of China’s biggest cities heading home for the lunar New Year. The government counted about 3 billion “passenger trips” nationwide during the 40-day travel rush, including cars and buses.

Like Xiang Ju, most of these people were born and raised as peasant farmers in the countryside and later moved to China’s megacities to work in low-paid manufacturing, construction and service jobs. In 1978, on the eve of economic reforms that first unleashed this flood of humanity, less than 20 per cent of China’s population lived in a city. Today, 55 per cent of people in the world’s most populous country live in urban areas.

But about 275 million, or more than a third of China’s entire labour force, are migrant workers from the countryside, without the right to settle permanently or access the education, pensions or healthcare provided to those with hereditary “urban” status.

That last paragraph is stunning.  A population approaching 300 million constitute internal Chinese migrants who, merely because the moved out of the countryside, have limited access to numerous social services in some sort of irrational federalism.  Furthermore, they are not entitled to live in their new home cities.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, there is the phenomena of “hot money” by Chinese super-elites buying overseas real estate, including the U.S., as fear of the Xi government’s crackdown grows.  Go to the podcast page, and start listening at 19:00 (Jamil Anderlini / FT.com interview by John Batchelor and Gordon Chang).  Apparently, having more children than is allowed by the government is a status symbol among the Chinese elites who maintain overseas residences.

Brittany Maynard Needs to Go to a Basketball Game

by Chris Gacek

October 29, 2014

By now we are all well aware of the story of Brittany Maynard, a young married woman who is terminally ill with a brain cancer.  She has moved to Oregon in order to legally commit suicide.  (Here is Time magazine’s favorable article about her and Oregon’s suicide enabling act.)  Mrs. Maynard plans to kill herself with medical assistance in early November.

Not so well known is the story of Lauren Hill, a college freshman at Mt. Saint Joseph University in Ohio.  Miss Hill who also has terminal brain cancer, but she has chosen a different path.  She has been practicing for months so she can play in the team’s first basketball game this season on November 2nd.

I hope Brittany Maynard has the opportunity to view the CBS news story about Lauren Hill and realize that there is a better way for her. In the past months, Brittany has been touring places she has always wanted to see like the Grand Canyon. According the People Magazine article:

Though she set Nov. 1 as a tentative date to end her life, she’s always made it clear the date is not set in stone and she will make the decision based on the progression of her disease.

I have no doubt that if Brittany Maynard wanted to see Lauren play basketball this Sunday – tickets would be made available even though the game has sold out.  I imagine Lauren would tell Brittany to grasp every moment of life and to fight for those who will come later and need encouragement in life’s most difficult times.  Seeing Lauren Hill play will, in its own way, have a grandeur of equal stature to the Grand Canyon’s.  Brittany Maynard needs to see and understand that.

Public Confidence in CDC Drops

by Robert Morrison

October 22, 2014

Now public esteem for the long-respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has plummeted with the arrival of Ebola on American shores. A new CBS News poll found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the centers were doing a good job, down from 60 percent last year. In fact, of nine agencies tested, seven that were judged highly by a majority of Americans last year have now fallen below 50 percent.

I have had my own concerns for decades about CDC. When I was a young appointee in the federal education department under President Reagan, I was assigned to the mournful task of researching suicide among youth. Among other troubling things I learned was that, following the quiet repeal of laws against suicide by all the states, the suicide rate among young Americans tripled.

In the course of my research, I had a briefing book sent to me by CDC. It had the demographic tables for suicide among every group in America—from Ashkenazi Jews (very low) to Zuni Indians (tragically high).One statistic had me scratching my head. I called CDC in Atlanta to ask if numbers for the suicide rate among Black women could possibly be correct. They were near zero! “Well, yes, we’ve noticed that stat, too,” said the CDC staffer on the other end of the phone line, “We call it the BFPF—Black Female Protection Factor.” What is that, I asked. “They’re very religious,” came the reply.

CDC knows this, but they don’tadvertise this? I remembered the Public Service Announcement from TV from the 1950s—”The family that prays together stays together.”

Family Research Council’s respected MARRI—Marriage and Religion Research Institute—is now the best source to show (with incontrovertible evidence) the importance of marriage and faith in our families’ well-being.

Of course, the scales had already fallen from my eyes about CDC. I knew that they had employed Willard Cates there. In 1980, Cates was doing “abortion surveillance” for this federally-funded agency. He advised abortionists to charge fees based on the size of the foot of the unborn child whom they had killed. Even now, thirty-fouryearslater, that reality still send chills down my spine.

Article from The New York Times

Adult Stem Cells Help Bryan Hinkle Make a Lifesaving Comeback

by David Prentice

September 4, 2014

Post Image

Bryan Hinkle was living the American dream.  But a disease called CIDP got in the way.  CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the peripheral nerves.  Bryan was diagnosed with CIDP as a teenager, but the disease was masked and controlled with medication and life went on.  Then his disease came back with a vengeance, robbing him of virtually all feeling in his legs and feet.  He ended up in a wheelchair, depressed and afraid.  “My biggest fear was that I was going to die,” says Bryan of those darkest of days.  “This disease was winning and it was going to overtake me.  I was just living my days, waiting for the end to come.”

But then Hope made a comeback.  Bryan came across news of a doctor in Chicago who had developed a ground-breaking adult stem cell therapy for CIDP.  Bryan was accepted into the treatment program, and received a transplant of his own adult stem cells as part of the therapy.  Within two days he noticed a difference, and his recovery continued from there.

Today Bryan has his American dream back.  He leads a happy, healthy life thanks to adult stem cells, a discovery that’s changing the face of regenerative medicine and giving people real hope in their fight against dozens of diseases and conditions.  Bryan says, “I’ve regained my independence.  I’m helping take care of my children, I’m being the husband and the father that I dreamt about not too long ago.  And for that, I’m just thankful—thankful and amazed.”

See the video of Bryan Hinkle’s amazing comeback!


Send Your Ice Bucket Challenge Donation to Ethical, Successful Adult Stem Cell Research

by David Prentice

August 21, 2014

You’ve probably heard of it by now, the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Those challenged are supposed either to dump an ice bucket of cold water over their head, or donate to ALS research.  Most people do both, posting a video of their icy bath.  It’s a stunt, but has successfully raised awareness of ALS as well as donations for research.  But people should consider where their donations go and how the money is used.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a fatal, progressive neurological disease.  It attacks the nerves that control voluntary muscles, so it is sometimes termed “motor neuron disease”.  As the nerves die, muscles weaken and atrophy, including the muscles for breathing; most people suffering from ALS die of respiratory failure.  The cause is unknown and at this point there is no cure, and very little that can even slow disease progression.

So, raising awareness about ALS and increasing support for ALS research is a good thing.  But whether you participate in a challenge or just donate to important research, where should your donation go?

So far, most of the attention and millions of dollars in donation have gone to the ALS Association.  However, the ALSA has admitted that it gives some of its money to embryonic stem cell research and has no qualms about doing so in the future.  (Note the ALSA page linked in the above has just recently been changed, and now notes that embryonic stem cell research “has raised ethical concerns.”)

As Rebecca Taylor has pointed out, ALSA also has given money to an affiliate, NEALS, that has given money to a trial that uses stem cells derived from the spinal cord of an aborted fetus.

That trial is being run by the University of Michigan and Emory University, and sponsored by a company called Neuralstem which uses aborted fetus cells for research (“from the donated spinal cord tissue of an 8-week-old aborted fetus.”)  All of the Neuralstem trials use cells derived from abortion.

Project ALS, another charity for ALS research, also funds embryonic stem cell research.

 

But there are alternatives for donations that use only ethical stem cell sources!

Here are a few of my favorites.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center is only a year old, but is starting an increasing number of clinical trials and educational efforts.

One potential future trial would be using adult stem cells for ALS.  Dr. Rick Barohn, an internationally recognized expert on ALS, recently joined the Advisory Board for the Center.

The MSCTC does not do any embryonic or aborted fetal stem cell research, ONLY ADULT and NON-EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH and CLINICAL TRIALS.

HOW DO I DONATE?  click the “Make a Gift” link in the left column of their web page, it specifies donation for the MSCTC.

(Disclosure:  I am a member of the MSCTC advisory board)

 

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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are currently doing clinical trials for patients with ALS, using ADULT STEM CELLS.

Dr. Anthony Windebank and his team have one ongoing clinical trial for ALS patients and are ready to initiate a second clinical trial for ALS patients.

HOW DO I DONATE?  there is a “Give Now” link near the top of web page from Dr. Windebank’s link above; people can specify that their donation go to his ALS research team.

NOTE that the second trial is in association with an Israeli company, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, that is developing the adult stem cell treatment for ALS and other neural conditions.  While this is still an experimental trial, the early results using adult stem cells for ALS treatment have been positive.

 

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The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City is doing research in several areas including ALS, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

HOW DO I DONATE?  use the button for “Donate Now” on their main web page

 

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(the following listing was updated Aug 22, 2014 to clarify the profile of this company)

The Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC is a for-profit company developing new methods for growth and application of adult stem cells, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

Click “Contact Information” in the right column of their web page and e-mail the Director to learn more about the company’s adult stem cell technology development plans.

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Donate to ethical adult stem cell research!  Adult stem cells are helping patients now!

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