Social Issues

So·cial iss·ues: of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community; of or pertaining to humans associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes, esp. as a body divided into classes according to status. Posts in this category pertain to matters of human social interaction, classification, and association.

Texas Roast

Filed in Social Issues

If you're a coffe drinker (or even if you're not), support Texas Roast. Owner Jeff Schneider divesting himself from what has been a significant AdWords advertising relationship with Google, due to their censorship activities on their Chinese domain:

I run a small gourmet coffee company that does decent business on the internet, thanks to the reach of Google Ad Words. However, I cannot live with Google's decision to succumb to the wishes of the brutal dictatorship in China. So, as of today, my company has suspended all business with Google. This will have a substantial negative impact on my bottom line, but in some cases principle means more than money. As a veteran of OIF, I know all too well how valuable freedom is and I cannot support a company that helps to suppress it.

I would ask you to encourage any of your readers who might use Google Ad Words to take the same actions and send a message to Google. It is time for Americans to tell businesses when they have gone too far in compromising the most basic principles of freedom and make them pay a price for their actions.

I decided not to use either AdWords or AdSense once Google's political discrimination became known. Now, not a single freedom-loving person in the world should use them.

And, yes, Glenn:

...I think this will be a good opportunity for any GoogleAd competitors (Blogads, say) to snap up some of Google's business

I'll be happy to give BlogAds my business; I'm just waiting for the invitation...

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.

Reporter Discovers Rounding on Food Labels

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Health/Nutrition

I guess it's Pick On day...

On the launch of the new FDA food label requirements, one HealthFinder reporter discovers that labels can legally accomodate for rounding:

THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to food labels that list levels of unhealthy trans fats, zero plus zero doesn't always equal zero.

That's because newly implemented U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules on labeling allow foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to claim "zero" grams of trans fats on their labels.

Under these guidelines, which went into effect on Jan. 1, a food with 0.4 grams of trans fats can be listed as having zero trans fats. That means that Americans who consume three or four servings of these foods in a day will have unwittingly eaten an extra gram or two of trans fats.

...Barbara Schneeman, director of the Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements for the FDA said the reason the FDA is allowing foods under 0.5 grams of trans fats to be rounded down to zero is that current detection methods for trans fats aren't very reliable below 0.5 grams.

Um, hello?!? Has our illustrious reporter never before looked at a food label? Has she not noticed that ALL macro-nutrients - fat, carbohydrate, and protein - as well as their sub-categories (e.g. saturated fat, fiber) are subject to the same rounding rules?

Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for "free" include "without," "no" and "zero." A synonym for fat-free milk is "skim".

Here's another "shocker" for our reporter: ">1g" means 0.5-0.9 grams. The reason for such rounding? First, the meaningful differences between zero, >0.5, 0.5-0.9, and 1.0g of a macronutrient are negligible. Second, as mentioned in the article, detection methods for such small amounts are not terribly accurate or reliable.

The problem lies not with the rounding, but with the often-asinine "serving" sizes listed on labels. Easy fix: list both the nutrition information for a serving size, as well as for the package as a whole. Most questions of "hidden" amounts of macronutrients would then disappear.

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 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.


Filed in Social IssuesTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

I heard it, but didn't believe it. Now Never teh Bride confirms it:

According to, the average price for a wedding in the U.S. is $26,800. The general breakdown they give is thus:

Wedding Attire $1,841.00
Wedding Ceremony $2,337.00
Wedding Favors & Gifts $1,104.00
Wedding Flowers $1,136.00
Wedding Jewelry $1,739.00
Wedding Music $922.00
Wedding Photography $2,659.00
Wedding Reception $13,692.00
Wedding Stationery $809.00

The site features a wedding cost calculator based on zip code, which is pretty cool.

So, I decided to see what a wedding here would cost:

On average, couples will spend $55,208.00 for their wedding in Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

Fifty-five thousand dollars?!? That's one-fourth to one-half of the cost of a house. Needless to say, our wedding won't cost anywhere near that much.

(Hat tip:PJMedia - Top Stories)

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, 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?

Stepping On The Rights of Business Owners

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

The St. Louis County Council is about to consider a proposal to ban indoor smoking:

After months of contentious debate and careful negotiations, members of the county's Justice and Health Committee unveiled the latest draft of the proposed smoking ban Wednesday.

The legislation, which could be sent to the full council next week, bans smoking in restaurants and bars, while allowing Harrah's casino, area bowling alleys and Lambert Field to maintain separately ventilated smoking areas.

Of course, the proposal is selective - and therefore discriminatory.

The fundamental issue, though, is what right the government has to tell a private business-owner whether or not smoking (which, last I checked, was still a legal activity) is allowed in his establishment. A private business owner has the right to operate his establishment as he sees fit, and has the right to take the risk of losing patronage by allowing or prohibiting smoking at his establishment.

Personally, I detest cigarette smoke. It smells disgusting, it makes me sick, it tastes disgusting, and it lingers on clothes. I think smokers, as a group, are among some of the most inconsiderate people with respect to violating public fresh air (huddling around building entrances, and forcing non-smokers to traverse the second-hand smoke "gauntlet"), and littering their cigarette butts wherever they want. At the same time, smokers are among the most maligned group in the country.

While an equal-protection and equal-opportunity balance needs to be struck in public, owners of private establishments (be they businesses or homes) have the right to manage them as they see fit. I think "smoking sections" in restaurants are about as effective as "peeing sections" in swimming pools. That said, I vote with my feet and with my wallet. If I do not want to subject myself to a restaurant, bar, or other business that allows smoking, I can choose not to go there. If I want to support smoke-free businesses, I can likewise do so with my own feet and wallet. If enough people agree with me, then the free market will dictate which establishments stay in business.

The government has no right dictating.

In Defense of Old Glory

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Judiciary

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed by 286-130 a Constitutional Amendment authorizing Congress to ban the desecration of the American Flag.

Several of my Conservative brethren would brand me as an extremist for supporting the measure. The arguments generally include:

  • Flag-burning is an exercise of freedom of speech, which is a Constitutionally protected right,
  • Expression is the same as speech, in terms of Constitutional limitations on abridgement of rights,
  • Banning flag-burning will lead to banning the exercise of speech and expression in legitimate forms of protest,
  • Giving Congress power to ban flag burning violates the entire embodiment of rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

These arguments - which I will address shortly - miss the point entirely. American Flag burning has no place in civilized society. Granted, anti-Christian, anti-Semite, America- and Israel-hating Muslim fascists take great joy in burning the flags of both the USA and Israel; but to that point I respond: 1) see my previous statement, and 2) perhaps those who would burn the American flag here in the US have much in common with those fanatics.

It is completely illogical to exercise one's freedom of expression by protesting the symbol of the guarantee of that very right of expression. The United States of America is the beacon of Democracy and the epitome of civilized society. Political dissent has been defended passionately since Bostonians turned the Harbor into the world's largest cup of tea. Political (especially, minority - since protecting majority rights is not really an issue) dissent is one of the roots of the limitation on Congress to abridge the freedom of the people - freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, keeping and bearing arms, property, etc. These freedoms all embody myriad means of expressing dissent, including private and public speaking, publishing (dead-tree and internet), artistic expression, protest assemblies, or expatriating oneself. Burning the American Flag is not among their number.

That's not to say that flag-burning never has inherent purpose. Burning a flag that symbolizes a tyrannical government that suppresses basic human freedoms is a perfectly legitimate and germane protest of the tyranny and suppression embodied by the flag. So, an Iranian who protests his government by burning the flag of Iran expresses a perfectly consistent statement. Only someone insane, or who hates America (or both) would attempt a serious correlation between an oppressed subject of a tyrannical regime burning the flag symbolizing tyranny to an American living in the most free society in the history of mankind burning the flag symbolizing the passionate and self-sacrificial defense of freedom.

A democratic society provides a means for the governed to hold government accountable. Representatives are subject to regular elections. Elected officials face recall or impeachment when warranted. Executive branches at nearly all levels of government are subject to term limitation. Legitimate means of protest against elected officials include watch-dog activities holding officials accountable to what they do and say while in office, formation of Political Action Committees and lobbyist groups, active campaigning against an incumbent, active campaigning for a challenger, or running for office oneself. Burning the American Flag contributes nothing to any of these endeavors.

Apparently, I am not alone in my assertion that burning the American Flag has no place in a civilized America. From the same article:

The measure was designed to overturn a 1989 decision by the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a protected free-speech right. That ruling threw out a 1968 federal statute and flag-protection laws in 48 states. The law was a response to anti-Vietnam war protesters setting fire to the American flag at their demonstrations.

Again, what we really have is a Constitutional-amendment band-aid to reassert the right of the legislative branches of our Federal and State governments to legislate according to the will of the majority, against judiciary fiat - in this case, SCOTUS trumped the legally and legitimately expressed will of the citizens of 48 States, and and Federal statute. I will concede that I would much prefer that the wording of the amendment guarantee the right of the States to govern themselves with respect to the prohibition of the physical desecration of the American flag; however, even the wording as rendered would restore that right to the States, whether or not the US Congress ever chooses to pass legislation prohibiting physical desecration of the American flag.

To further illustrate the will of the people, consider this collection of (ten-year old) polls concerning support for or against flag burning as free speech.

To be honest, I'm extremely tired of attempts to justify flag burning as protected free speech. Just for reference, here's the wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

First point: the reference to freedom of expression, as written in the First Amendment, directly correlates to religion. Note the use and location of the comma, semi-colon, and the word "thereof", which corresponds "expression" to "religion". Thus, while I am no Constitutional or legal scholar, I do understand basic rules of grammar and can say that arguments that the First Amendment protects a carte blanche freedom of expression are baseless.

Next, I would like to reiterate the definition of "speech":


    1. The faculty or act of speaking.
    2. The faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.
  1. Something spoken; an utterance.
  2. Vocal communication; conversation.
  3. A talk or public address: “The best impromptu speeches are the ones written well in advance” (Ruth Gordon).
  4. A printed copy of such an address.
  5. One's habitual manner or style of speaking.
  6. The language or dialect of a nation or region: American speech.
  7. The sounding of a musical instrument.
  8. The study of oral communication, speech sounds, and vocal physiology.
  9. Archaic. Rumor.

Of all the definitions of speech, one common thread is clear: speech involves or originates from oral communication. Speech can be concurrent with Flag Burning, but the act of flag burning itself is not inherently "speech".

As for the right of government to abridge the freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights, the prohibition of flag desecration would certainly not set a new precedent. A civil society should, can, and does impose reasonable limits on the exercise of personal freedoms. For instance, the Supreme Court has upheld that expressing intimidation via cross burning is not Constitutionally protected free speech. (And here's a liberal's attempt to compare and contrast cross and flag burning.) Further, speech that presents a "clear and present danger" (e.g. shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater:

As I pointed out, the excuse normally given by the government for oppression is that of necessity. This was precisely the reason given in 1919 when the Supreme Court ruled in Schenck v. U.S. that speech could be forbidden if it presents a “clear and present danger.” It was this same ruling that put the “shouting fire in a theater” test into the public conception of the parameters of free speech. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

We admit that in many places and in ordinary times the defendants in saying all that was said in the circular would have been within their constitutional rights. But the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. Aikens v. Wisconsin, 195 U.S. 194, 205, 206 S., 25 Sup. Ct. 3. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force. Gompers v. Buck’s Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 439, 31 S. Sup. Ct. 492, 55 L. ed. 797, 34 L. R. A. (N. S.) 874. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

Although subsequent decisions went on to clarify that a “clear and present danger” was limited to violent actions and not political advocacy, that was not before this case was used as justification to imprison political dissidents. In any case, the idea was planted in the people’s mind that speech could be limited by the government, as long as the reason was good enough.

Yet again, speech intended to incite a riot is not Constitutionally protected free speech. Obscenity, child pornography, libel, perjury, contempt of court, and false advertising - these are all also not Constitutionally protected free speech. What about freedom of expression of religion? Even under the guise of religious freedom, polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality, public nudity and obscenity, and any other of a number of forms of "expression" (including oppression of women and children and beheading of "infidels") are not Constitutionally protected.

The reason that American Flag desecration should be prohibited is not because it offers no inherent value or benefit to discussion of issues or political dissent in civilized society; it should be prohibited because it is an act of political dissent so base that it inherently incites violence and hatred, and aids, abets, and offers comfort to the enemies of the United States in times of war. Burning the flag is an act that illicits passion and emotion and stifles reasoning; thus flag burning is actually detrimental to civilized discourse.

The American Flag symbolizes everything that is America - the good and the bad. More importantly, though, the flag represents a system of governance of, by, and for the people - a system of checks and balances, and a system of self-correction. The American Flag symbolizes a system in which the majority must recognize and protect the rights of the minority, a system in which mistakes and grevious wrong-doing alike are exposed, rooted out, and atoned for from within. The Flag represents a system that provides the mean to be changed; a political dissident can change the system if gathers enough support - and that change comes peacefully, through the process defined by the system.

Thus, to burn the flag is to protest the most advanced, the most peaceful, the most civilized, the most humane, and the most successful means of changing the system of government by the governed in all of history. To burn the flag is effectively to end any discussion or debate that would otherwise come out of civilized political dissent. To burn the flag is to protest the sacrifice of thousands of American men and women who have fought - and died - to defend the freedoms symbolized by the Flag.

Having said all that, I don't really expect the measure to pass the Senate. It is doubtful that it has the 2/3 majority support:

A day after a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning cleared the House, an informal survey by the Associated Press suggested the measure lacks enough Senate votes to pass.

The 286-130 outcome in the House was never in doubt, and amendment supporters expressed optimism that a Republican gain of four seats in last November's election could produce the two-thirds approval needed in the Senate, as well, after four failed attempts since 1989.

But an AP survey yesterday found 35 senators on record as opposing the amendment — one more than the number needed to defeat it, barring a change in position.

Apparently, the American Flag Blog agrees, in reaction to an opinion piece by one Sandi Webb.

I will probably re-visit the issue later, mainly to take on more of the arguments against prohibiting flag burning.

The Responses of Civilized Society

Filed in Religion, Social IssuesTags: War on Terror

Unlike the completely alleged, never-substantiated, and since-retracted Newsweek story, much religiously motivated desecration takes place in the world. Not surprisingly, the vast majority is perpetrated by extremist Muslims. (Referenced in the articles linked: desecration of Joseph's tomb and the murder of a young rabbi who tried to save a Torah, a Jewish cemetary on the Mount of Olives, the Jewish religious school at the Shalom al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho, the Christian Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, photographer Andres Serrano's ''Piss Christ" -- a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine, Sinead O'Connor ripping up a photograph of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live appearance, and the destruction of two priceless, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.) How do Jews, Christians, and people of other faiths respond?

CNSNews reports that the usual response is not outraged violence, but grief:

"No one has ever been killed [over a desecration]," Rosenblum said. "There have been desecrations here in shuls [synagogues]," he said. "It provoked rending of garments."

And what of the Christian response?

Christian places have also been desecrated. The most prominent example was the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, seized and held by Palestinian militants for more than a month. The church is built over the grotto where many Christians believe Jesus was born.

During the 39-day siege, in which the militants held clergy captive, militants reportedly urinated on the floor, used pages of the Bible as toilet paper and stole all the gold and other religious ornaments they could find.

When the militants left, the Christian response was to clean the place in time for Sunday Mass.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby explains why Islam is disrespected in a Boston Herald column today. While Muslim nations rage, civilized society reacts to similar (and much worse) treatment without resorting to violence:

Of course, there was a good reason all these bloody protests went unremembered in the coverage of the Newsweek affair: They never occurred.

Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don't lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don't call for holy war and riot in the streets. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain.

Of course, I find it completely hypocritical that a society that encourages "honor" killings of rape victims - not to mention all the other myriad human-rights violations of Muslim women - claims to value a mere book so highly.

And let us not forget: the one documented incident of Qa'ran desecration at Gitmo was perpetrated by... a Muslim prisoner:

Other Pentagon officials said the only person who had desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay was a detainee who ripped pages from the Muslim holy book and used them to plug a toilet as a way to protest his detention.

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.