Sanctity of Life

Sanc·ti·ty of Life: the principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sanctified, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated, based on the belief that all human beings are created in God’s image. Posts in this category pertain to abortion, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues pertaining to the advancement of the culture of life and to the respect and protection of the sanctity of life.

South Dakota Votes to Ban Abortion

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life

GOP Bloggers reports that the South Dakota house has voted 47-22 to ban abortion, with the sole exception being mortal danger to the mother:

This is throwing down the gauntlet to the culture of death - this isn't warm and fuzzy, this is stern defense of basic human morality. After a century of moral disintegration, finally a courageous deed in service of humanity's true needs.

Indeed.

The pro-aborts are going absolutely psycho. This from How Bout This:

And now, my PRO-CHOICE rant:

Bring it on; this should be entertaining.

So....how many are against abortion but for the death penalty?

Ah yes, the old canard of the moral equivalence crowd. I'll admit, I prefer erring on the side of life, even with the worst of our criminals. However, capital punishment at least has reasonable justification, given the heinousness of the action of those so condemned. Equating the execution of a murderer or other such convict with the murder of an innocent and defenseless unborn child is baseless and asinine.

How many are against abortion but, in general, for pro-active military action?

You mean, pro-active military action that frees 50 million people from the clutches of tyrannical dictators, who rape, pillage, and - yes - kill indiscriminately? You mean, pro-active military action that releases Kurds and other Iraqi political dissidents from the fear of mass extermination, death by shredder, and other horrors? Yes, I'm in favor.

How many are against abortion but are also against the availability of contraceptives to teenagers?

Why should an innocent, defenseless unborn human child die because of the inconvenience caused to a couple teenagers who exercise their freedom of choice by having sex? Since when, by the way, were contraceptives unavailable to teenagers? They seem to be hanging in the aisles of grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations all across the country. Teenagers' money serves suitably as legal tender for the purchase of such contraception.

How many are against abortion but choose never to adopt?

How many abortion mills clinics or abortion advocates propogate adoption as an alternative to abortion? Couples in this country are waiting by the thousands to adopt. No shortage of demand for adoption exists; however, a million or so abortions annually severely inhibits the supply of babies to be adopted.

It seems to me many people need to put their morals where their mouth is: adopt some unwanted kids, protest needless violence, and educate teenagers about the ways to avoid pregnancy (and STD's, while we're at it).

The problem is not with pro-life advocates not putting our "morals where our mouths are", but with pro-abortion advocates not encouraging people NOT to put other things where they don't belong, unless they are willing to accept the consequences. Well over ninety percent of abortions in this country are purely for reasons of convenience. For the record, we do protest needless violence: the violence perpetrated against innocent, defenseless unborn humans.

Next we have this gem from "confusionsetsin":

That didn't take long did it? This is unbelievably immoral and blatantly unconstitutional. If you get raped in South Dakota and become pregnant, the South Dakota House wants to use the threat of criminal sanctions to force you to give birth. As the article notes, this is being done to force a legal challenge by pro-choice groups in hope that this goes all the way to the Supreme Court so they can re-hear the abortion case and issue a new ruling. Unfortunately, the idiots in South Dakota don't realize that because this is not legal in any sense of the word that the lower courts will strike it down completely and will end up strengthening abortion rights in the country.

"Unbelievably immoral"? Protecting the life of unborn humans is "immoral" to this moonbat. "Blatantly unconstitutional"? Please, O sage of constitutional wisdom, show me where abortion is addressed in the U.S. Constitution? Please, great protector of constitutional knowledge, can you explain the Tenth Amendment with respect to abortion? Again, well over ninety percent of abortions are purely for reasons of convenience. Even so, the developing human child is not at fault for incidents of rape or incest. Punish the criminal; don't victimize the innocent.

And this ever-popular means of fear-mongering, brought to us by kristeljohns:

Anyone wanna place bets on whether or not I'll end up treating women who have been injured or rendered infertile due to botched back-alley abortions in my future career in the field of OB/GYN?

I wouldn't worry your pretty little liberal skull about that one; from this one sentence, odds are you're too stupid to make it through medical school. Good start on the field of medical moonbattery, though.

These are children, not a choice. baby aborted in second trimester

God bless you, South Dakota!

Say It Ain’t So, Jim!

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Hat tip: Arch City Chronicle. Also, Jamie Allman discussed this article this afternoon on 97.1 FM Talk while filling in on the Dave Glover Show. He mentioned an email I sent him regarding some of these issues.

The Post-Dispatch reports Senator Talent's capitulation on banning embryonic stem cell research in Missouri, and, as usual when reporting on stem cell research, gets the story completely wrong.

First, on the poor reporting:

Following the lead-in, the article makes the following statement:

Wading into a political minefield that has pitted abortion-rights opponents against some scientists and families struggling with debilitating diseases, Talent, R-Mo., said Friday there were "no prospects" for enacting the ban on human cloning—a bill he has co-sponsored for the last four years.

The argument that this debate pits abortion-rights opponents against scientists and families struggling with debilitating diseases is both specious and sensational. It evokes the entirely unproven notion that embryonic stem cell research has shown at all any unique promise in therapeutic benefits in order to appeal to the emotional sensibilities of an otherwise-ignorant audience. (See this previous post for related links.) The inarguable reality is that, for those families struggling with debilitating diseases, the only real hope exists right now in adult stem cell research. While embryonic stem cell research has produced not one benefit, adult stem cell research has produced some sixty-five benefits (as of July 2005) for cancer, auto-immune diseases, cardiovascular and ocular problems, neural/degenerative illnesses and injuries, anemia and other blood conditions, metabolic disorders, and various wounds and injuries.

Without this context, the uninformed reader is led to assume that without embryonic stem cell research, no hope exists for therapies or cures for such debilitating diseases. Without this context, such a reader is left ignorant even of the differentiation between adult and embryonic stem cell research. Without this context, the reader does not recognize that the ban only applies to embryonic stem cell research, preserving the efficacious adult stem cell research.

Toward the end of the article, the following statement appears:

In his speech Friday, Talent said the new form of stem cell research makes therapeutic cloning unnecessary.

In that process, also known as or somatic cell nuclear transfer, the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is replaced with the nucleus of another cell from a human body. The egg is then stimulated to divide, as it would when fertilized by a sperm, and the early stem cells are harvested. Stem cells can mature into a variety of cells to form organs and other body parts.

Now here's a semantic argument I've not yet heard; likely, because Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) and therapeutic cloning are exactly the same thing. The two terms are interchangeable:

Therapeutic cloning (also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell nuclear replacement, research cloning, and embryo cloning)...

What is unclear from this simplified description is that what results from this process is a genetically complete human cell. Stem cells are extracted from the developing embryo (at this stage, referred to as a "blastocyst"), destroying the embryo in the process. Left to its own devices, it would develop into a fully formed human being. This point is indisputible. From Clone The Truth:

SCNT is the same in both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. The only difference is whether the cloned embryo is implanted.

Implantation differentiates between therapeutic and reproductive cloning - not the process that yields the embryo in question.

It appears that the Post-Dispatch just got the story completely wrong. From the Kansas City Star, Talent is favoring not SCNT, but a technique known as "altered nuclear transfer" (ANT):

Saying new scientific research may make it possible to create stem cells without cloning human embryos, Sen. Jim Talent on Friday withdrew as co-sponsor of a bill that would ban all human cloning and make it a crime for anyone to take part in the process.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Talent said the alternative research made the bill unnecessary. The new research - called altered nuclear transfer - would provide common ground for people on all sides of the issue, he said.

First, a brief description of ANT:

Altered Nuclear Transfer uses the technology of NT but with a preemptive alteration that assures that no embrye is created. The somatic cell nucleus or the emucleated egg contents (cytoplasm) or both are first altered before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg. The alterations cause the somatic cell DNA to function in such a way that no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced.

"...no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced" - a curious statement, that. In layman's terms, ANT alters the two components prior to the nuclear transfer, such that the embryonic development is genetically altered to prevent the ability of the embryo to develop fully. The claim that the embryo is non-human is clearly untrue; it is simply a human embryo genetically altered to prevent its full development. Contrary to the claims that this method eliminates ethical concerns over SCNT, I find the method to be even more morally repugnant, as researchers assume even more God-like power over the embryo, choosing which will be allowed to develop, and which will not.

ANT still performs a nuclear transfer; this process is, by definition, cloning. Regardless of how the components are genetically altered, the resultant clone still develops enough to produce human embryonic stem cells. Only a human embryo can produce human embryonic stem cells.

Now, on to Senator Talent:

From the article:

In a surprise turnabout, Sen. Jim Talent withdrew his support Friday for a controversial ban on human cloning and offered what he said was a compromise proposal that would heal the deep divide over stem cell research.

...

Talent said his alternative proposal, which he is still developing, would fund a newly emerging technology that avoids the most dicey element of the debate -- the destruction of human embryos that occurs in traditional stem cell research.

...

But even as Talent outlined his new position on Fridays -- saying he’d spent a year researching the issue -- the Missouri senator still declined to take a position on a state initiative petition that has made the stem cell debate so hot at home.

Mr. Talent, with all due respect, if you have "researched the issue" for an entire year, surely you wouldn't make the mistake of trying to differentiate between any form of nuclear transfer and therapeutic cloning. Surely you would know that no such "emerging technology" exists that would avoid the destruction of human embryos. From one of your staunchest supporters, know that you will have a great deal of explaining to do, and will have an extremely difficult time trying to justify this move.

Senator Talent, your argument fails on two points:

First, if ANT, as its proponents claim, is not cloning, and does not produce a human embryo, then it is not inconsistent with a proposed ban on human cloning. Passing such a ban - either federally, or in Missouri - would not prevent research that neither clones human DNA nor produces human embryos.

Second, if ANT is a form of human cloning, and does produce human embryos, then all the same ethical and moral questions remain. It is not then a "compromise" acceptable to both sides of the controversy, as you claim:

"There's a sense on both sides of the controversy that if you propose something that concedes something to the other side, you give up something yourself," Talent said. "It is going to become increasingly clear that the way for both sides to get what they want is to compromise."

Senator Talent, with respect to the destruction of human embryos, we have no intention of compromising on the sanctity of every life, no matter at what point in its development. We have no intention of conceding even a single human life.

Consistent with the Clone the Truth campaign, I am committed to ensuring that the truth about adult and embryonic stem cell and related research is made known. I am likewise committed to ensuring that this deceptively worded and ill-advised ballot initiative is defeated.

UPDATE:
Clone the Truth references this post, and calls ANT a "Trojan Horse."

UPDATE II:
ProLifeBlogs is now running with this story, as well, linking also to Secondhand Smoke, who in turn references Ramesh Ponnuru in NRO.

Not In My Name

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

With all due respect, Ms. Mitchell, you don't speak for this Missourian:

In opening arguments, one lawyer said the wording also conforms to the popular definition of human cloning held by voters.

"Missourians do not believe that a few hundred cells are a cloned human being," said Karen King Mitchell, Missouri's chief deputy attorney general.

The linked St. Louis Post-Dispatch article discusses today's ruling on the wording of a proposed Missouri ballot initiative to allow embryonic stem cell research in the state. The initiative is being pushed by the ironically and hypocritically named Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. As will essentially every other proponent of embryonic stem cell (ESR) research, the coalition makes no attempt to differentiate between adult and embryonic stem cell research, nor to point out that ESR has thus far produced not one viable therapy or cure, nor to point out that, no matter how it is named, the result of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) - otherwise known as "therapeutic" cloning - is, in fact, an embryo. When SCNT is used with a human egg and human DNA, the result is a human embryo.

The key issue with the ballot summary opposition, to me, is the following discrepancy:

The measure would ensure that all stem cell research legal under federal law would remain legal in Missouri. It also states "that no person may clone or attempt to clone a human being."

Critics sued, saying the ballot title for the measure inaccurately states that it would ban human cloning. They say the measure would actually allow a controversial procedure call somatic cell nuclear transfer, which they equate with cloning.

SCNT is not "equated" with cloning, it is cloning - even according to the coalition's own FAQ:

SCNT is sometimes called "therapeutic cloning" because it will use a patient's own cell to make stem cells used for disease therapies.

The coalition - much like most other ESC research proponents - goes to great lengths to attempt to differentiate between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning and argue that only "reproductive" cloning is actually "cloning".

The bottom line is, no matter how much ESC research attempt to redefine the terms, the result of SCNT of a human egg and human DNA is a human embryo. Those ostensibly in support of "lifesaving" cures propose to research those (as yet unproven) cures at the expense of a human life - no matter how many, or how few, cells constitute that life.

Government-Propogated Stem Cell Obfuscation

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

You know, I generally like the HealthFinder.gov web site as a decent roundup of recent studies and information. I don't, however, like it when this government-maintained web site propogates the unnecessary and agenda-driven obfuscation of the stem-cell issue:

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- What had once seemed a giant leap for science has turned out to be not even the smallest of steps -- for now.

Seoul National University's announcement Tuesday that all of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's apparently groundbreaking research in human stem cells was faked closes a bitter chapter in the quest to find more and better remedies for human illnesses.

Hwang's only legitimate claim is having cloned the world's first dog, Snuppy.

For those who have pinned their professional and personal hopes on stem cells, the shocking disclosure means this area of research is headed back to square one.

"We're back to the beginning in terms of trying to achieve somatic cell nuclear transfer," said Dr. Susan Okie, a contributing editor with the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the uninitiated, "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT) is the technical term otherwise known as "therapeutic cloning" - in other words, embryonic stem cell research. The article, however, makes no mention of the differentiation of types of stem cells, nor that adult stem cell research has already delievered many bona fide treatments and therapies (as of July 2005, the stem-cell scorecard reads: Adult 65, Embryonic 0).

The article's out-of-context doom-and-gloom continues:

Research is being reset to "where we were before, where using somatic cell nuclear transfer to derive stem cells is only a theoretical possibility," added David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethnics. "We're hopeful, but whether it's possible and how long it's going to take is something that is now a complete unknown. This really is a setback in a lot of ways."

The setback is not a death knell for the field, however, experts predicted.

"I think these kinds of experiments will succeed," said Dr. Darwin Prockop, director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. "They will eventually succeed, and perhaps sometime soon."

While SCNT researchers remain "hopeful" that "these kinds of experiments... will eventually succeed", adult and cord-blood stem-cell therapies already succeed, and without the ethical implications or thus-far false hope of embryonic stem cell research:

Leading proponents of research on embryonic stem cells are themselves lowering expectations that dramatic cures to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s are just around the corner. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that Lord Winston, the most prominent embryonic-stem-cell researcher in the United Kingdom, said that hopes for cures had been distorted by arrogance and spin.

“I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion,” Winston told the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Similarly, South Korean cloning expert Curie Ahn now warns that scientists won’t be able to develop cures from embryonic stem cells for three to five more decades. In experiment after experiment, scientists are learning that embryonic stem cells are too carcinogenic or “wild” for therapeutic purposes.

Back to the article, more mis-information:

The damage to the public's perception of stem cell research is likely to linger, Prokop added: "Every time you say stem cell for a while, people will think 'fraud.'"

Nevertheless, stem cell research with the potential for real breakthroughs continues...

The article's one "more information" source link is to the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), hardly an unbiased source, as ISSCR are ardent supporters of embryonic stem cell research, and their FAQ discounts adult stem cell research as well as the already proven therapies from adult stem cell research.

Pro-Life = “Culture of Death”?

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Methinks this emailer mis-directed her email-based disdain:

The culture of death is you. You have no regard for the lives of living, suffering people. A cell is not a person, but I and millions of others are and our blood is on your hands.

You are cruel, callous, and very evil. Your God will not judge you kindly.

Ovarian cancer survivor, Parkinson's Disease prisoner for 10 years

For reference, this email was sent to ProLifeBlogs.com, whose stated objective is as follows:

The objective of this site is to raise awareness and support for the pre-born and the sanctity of human life by communicating pro-life news and materials and by enabling a community of pro-life bloggers to promote their sites, interact with one another and influence internet readers.

Now, I'm quite sure our vitriolic emailer simply misdirected her missive, having intended to send it instead to Senate Democrats who tried to block a cord blood measure passed overwhelmingly by the house. I'm sure our emailer has not been taken in by the hype surrounding the completely unproven embryonic stem cell research, versus the already proven adult stem cell therapies.

But, in case I'm wrong, how about we give our misguided emailer a reality check, shall we?

More Planned Parenthood Stupidity

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life

Another post from Evangelical Outpost, this time concerning a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman both lying through her teeth, and uttering sheer idiocy:

In the latest edition of Planned Parenthood’s webzine choice! magazine, a reader asks Dr. Vanessa Cullins to resolve a dispute about whether life begins at conception or when “a baby takes its first breath.” Dr. Cullins, an obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at PPFA, responds:

All kinds of people — theologians, philosophers, scientists, lawyers, legislators, and many others — hold very different views about when life begins. In fact, both the egg and the sperm are living things before they meet and join. There's no real argument there. The really hot question is, "When does being a person begin?" Most medical authorities and Planned Parenthood agree that it starts when a baby takes its first breath.

EO does a fine job discussing the moral irrelevance (and intellectual dishonesty) of such a statement; however, I was struck by its sheer stupidity.

To be clear, the act of breathing involves pulmonary function - that is, the transfer of oxygen through the lungs into the bloodstream. This oxygen is introduced to the lungs via respiration: breathing. Now, everyone knows that humans breathe air. However, as the PP spokeswoman fails to point out, humans breathe air only after the expulsion of the placenta from the uterus during childbirth. Prior to this act, respiration occurs inside the placenta, and the unborn child respirates the amniotic fluid it contains. Thus, the point that this woman attempts to make - that "human" being begins at the point of "first breath", and "first breath" occurs at childbirth, ergo "human" being begins at childbirth - is an utter fallacy. In truth, pulmonary function in unborn children begins about four weeks after fertilization.

If Planned Parenthood were intellectually honest and consistent, no abortions would thus be performed beyond the fourth week of pregnancy.

Walk4Life

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Missouri, Saint Louis, Sanctity of Life

I'm off to walk with the St. Louis Young Republicans in Missouri Pregnancy Resource Center's Walk4Life. Come out to the Tremayne Shelter at Creve Coeur Park and join us!

Bill Gives Unborn Equal Protection

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life

ProLifeBlogs reports good news for innocent unborn humans in South Carolina:

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- An unborn child would have rights to due process and equal protection of the law under a bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. The measure passed on a 15-to-5 vote. It would establish that rights begin "at fertilization."

Not that the Fiat Federal Judiciary will let it stand... but it's about time some State decided to stand up to fight for the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for unborn humans.

Terri Passes

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Sanctity of Life

From Gateway Pundit: Terry Schiavo has passed on:

I am the bread of life, all who come to me shall not hunger
All who believe in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me, unless the Father beakon

And I will raise you up, and I will raise, you up, and I will raise you up, on the last day!
Unless you eat of the flesh of the son of man
And drink of His blood, and drink of His blood, you cannot have life within you

Terri Shiavo passes today.
God Rest Her Soul...

Amen

Conservatism, Rule of Law, and Life

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Judiciary, Sanctity of Life

Instapundit argues the point that Conservatism holds the process and rule of law above all else:

But I do think that process, and the Constitution, matter. Trampling the Constitution in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it's the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I'm not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn't. But respecting their role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don't like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. As I say, I thought conservatives knew this.

But I respectfully disagree. Equally important to Conservatism - especially the Christian Conservatism I espouse - is the sanctity of life. The Right To Life is among the God-endowed rights given to all men, and was considered so important by our Founding Fathers as to be enumerated in the Declaration of Independence (which was, coincidentally, a formal declaration to overthrow the rule of law that had become tyrranical and one that denied those certain, inalienable rights). Even murderers convicted and sentenced to die get decades of appeals before their death is carried out. Terry Schiavo - an innocent woman guilty only of lacking the ability to speak for and defend herself - gets only as long as it takes her to starve (a cruel and unusual punishment by any standards) before her de facto death sentence is carried out.

When the legal process returns such a blatantly incorrect result - especially in matters of life and death - it is fully consistent with Conservatism to work to overturn that result.