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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fight focuses on bill to ban federal funding of abortions

According to abortion activists, the "whole purpose of health care reform" included diverting our tax dollars into their clinics to pay for elective abortions.
According to "Pro-choice activist spoiling for a fight," The Washington Times, October 24, 2010, Susan A. Cohen, director of government affairs for the Guttmacher Institute, wrote an analysis, "Insurance Coverage of Abortion: The Battle to Date and the Battle to Come." Ms. Cohen's analysis starts with a review of how abortion was handled in this year's debate over health care reform:
"The whole purpose of health care reform was to expand coverage of basic health services, which logically should include the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion," she wrote.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, introduced this summer by veteran pro-life leader Mr. Smith and 183 co-sponsors, will be used to "demagogue against abortion" in health care, Ms. Cohen predicted. In fact, the Smith bill is so sweeping, Ms. Cohen added, that it could be a "a clear political, communications and legal road map" for the anti-abortion movement.
My friend Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) (pictured with me at left at a White House event during which Pres. Bush signed into law the cord blood legislation he had sponsored) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced a strong bill to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in every federal program. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding. This bipartisan pro-life bill (read the full text of the HR 5939 bill here) already has 184 cosponsors--22 Democrats and 166 Republicans.

Urge your Representative to keep your tax dollars from funding abortion by cosponsoring the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The first list below names Representatives who have not yet cosponsored the bill but did vote for the similar Stupak-Pitts amendment. The second lists those who have cosponsored the bill.

Republicans who voted for Stupak/Pitts and have NOT cosponsored HR 5939:
Bono Mack
Mack, C.
Young, B
Young, D

Democrats who voted for Stupak/Pitts and have NOT yet cosponsored HR 5939
Davis (AL)
Ryan (OH)
Shuler (NC)
Skelton (MO)

157 Original Cosponsors: Smith, C., Lipinski, Aderholt, Akin, Alexander, Austria, Bachmann, Bachus, Barrett, G., Bartlett, Barton, Bilirakis, Bishop, R., Blackburn, Blunt, Boehner, Bonner, Boozman, Boren, Boustany, Brady, K., Bright, Broun, Brown, H., Brown-Waite, Buchanan, Burgess, Burton, Buyer, Camp, Campbell, Cantor, Cao, Carter, Cassidy, Childers, Coble, Coffman, Cole, Conaway, Costello, Crenshaw, Critz, Culberson, Dahlkemper, Davis, G., Davis, L., Diaz-Balart, L., Diaz-Balart, M., Donnelly, Duncan, Elhers, Ellsworth, Emerson, Fallin, Fleming, Forbes, Fortenberry, Foxx, Franks, Gallegly, Garrett, Gingrey, Gohmert, Goodlatte, Granger, Graves, Griffith, Guthrie, Hall, R., Harper, Hensarling, Herger, Hoekstra, Hunter, Inglis, Issa, Johnson, S., Johnson, T., Jones, W., Jordan, Kanjorski, King, P., King, S., Kingston, Kline, Lamborn, Latourette, Latta, Linder, Luetkemeyer, Lummis, Lungren, Manzullo, Marchant, Marshall, McCarthy, H., McCaul, McClintock, McCotter, McHenry, McIntyre, McKeon, McMorris Rodgers, Mica, Miller, C., Miller, Gary, Moran, J., Murphy, T., Myrick, Neugebauer, Oberstar, Olson, Ortiz, Paulsen, Pence, Peterson, Pitts, Platts, Poe, Posey, Price, T., Radanovich, Rahall, Roe, Rogers (AL), Rogers (MI), Rogers, Hal, Roskam, Ros-Lehtinen, Ryan, P., Scalise, Schmidt, Schock, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shadegg, Shimkus, Shuster, Smith, A., Smith, L., Stearns, Sullivan, Taylor, Terry, Thompson, G., Thornberry, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Turner, Upton, Wamp, Westmoreland, Whitfield, Wilson, J., Wittman, Wolf

29 Added Cosponsors: Altmire, Bilbray, Calvert, Carney, Chaffetz, Cuellar, Driehaus, Flake, Gerlach, Graves, T., Jenkins, Melancon, Miller (FL), Latham, Lee, C., Lewis, J., LoBiondo, Lucas, Paul (TX), Petri, Putnam, Rehberg, Rohrabacher, Rooney, Ross, Royce, Simpson, Walden, Wilson, C.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whatever happened to "never again"?

The Washington Times recently published my commentary below, on stem cell research ethics:

After the Nuremberg war crimes trials highlighted horrific Nazi experiments on prisoners, the Nuremberg ethical code laid down "never again" guidelines guarding research on human subjects. Utilitarian scientists in the Geron Corporation are once again pushing those ethical boundaries, using human patients as guinea pigs in their quest for lucrative patents from embryo-destructive stem cell research ("Stem-cell treatment tested on patient," Oct. 12, Nation, A-6).
To protect patients, the Nuremberg Code requires patient informed consent and the absence of any "force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion." Yet "over-reaching" has characterized the propaganda of too many embryonic stem cell researchers, and given the prospect of lucrative patents, the potential for pressuring patients is significant.
Many oppose embryonic stem cell experimentation on moral grounds, since embryonic stem cell research involves the deliberate destruction of living, genetically complete human embryos who otherwise could grow into children.
Many oppose federal funding of embryo-killing research on pragmatic grounds, arguing that ethical adult stem cell research, already treating over 70 diseases, offers far more promise for near-term therapies for patients.
Still others oppose it on legal grounds. A lawsuit by the Christian Medical Association and adult stem cell researchers recently resulted in a temporary injunction from a federal court, which found that federal law "unambiguously" prohibits funding embryo-destroying research ("Judge puts Obama stem cell policy on hold," Aug. 24).
Even some who minimize the moral importance of embryonic human beings have raised opposition to the study, which involves the risk of injecting undifferentiated embryonic stem cells into adult human patients with spinal-cord injuries.
Stem cell expert John Gearhart of the University of Pennsylvania protested potentially catastrophic harm to patients in the Geron Corporation study, asking, "Are we transplanting cells that are going to cause tumors?"
Medically unethical, immoral, impractical, illegal and potentially lethal research on human subjects. Whatever happened to "never again"?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crisis calls for more than a milquetoast God

A USA Today article, "Americans' views of God shape attitudes on key issues," suggests that many Americans see God as far removed from our personal or national affairs. Baylor University researchers assert that nearly one in four Americans "see a Distant God that booted up the universe, then left humanity alone." The latest Gallup poll on the topic finds that seven of ten Americans believe that "religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life."
This trend may soon reverse. Faith can flourish when crises highlight our dependence on God.
Gallup found that in the world's poorest countries, the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives reaches 95%--contrasted with half that number in wealthy countries. A USA Today poll reveals that 83% of Americans still believe in a God who answers prayers.[3]
We would do well to heed Alexis de Tocqueville's insight from his famous 1835 publication, Democracy in America, in which he summarized the secrets of American success: "Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom."
The seemingly intractable moral and economic crises we now face may prompt us to exchange the current coolly existential view of a distant milquetoast God for the more active and powerful biblical God of our founders.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Memo to Prez: Time to restore science to its "rightful place"

President "President Obama has said he will base funding decisions on evidence and 'restore science to its rightful place.' A widely heralded scientific breakthrough gives him the chance to turn his airy rhetoric into solid action.

Mr. Obama and other politicians who minimize the value of early human life have swallowed hook, line and sinker the hyperbolic speculations of grant-seeking embryonic stem cell researchers. Mr. Obama has joined the politicians who have turned embryonic stem cell research into a wedge issue. For years these self-righteous politicians have hurled stones at their pro-life opponents who advocated ethical adult stem cell research, accusing them of cruelly standing in the way of cures.
During his vice presidential campaign, Sen. John Edwards boasted of embryonic stem cell research, vowing, "People like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Now we know that Mr. Edwards' vows on any subject weren't exactly reliable.
As a professed Catholic opposing her church on the issue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brazenly trumpeted embryonic stem cell research as holding "the biblical power to cure."
But time has a way of testing truth, and none of these incredible statements has come close to fruition. Yet the snake oil campaign greased the skids for hundreds of millions of federal and state tax dollars to be dumped into the black hole of embryonic stem cell research during a time of economic crisis. A federal judge on Aug. 23 granted a temporary halting of such illegal and prodigal research, based on a lawsuit brought by several adult stem cell researchers, the Christian Medical Association and others.
News reports recently heralded a landmark breakthrough--scientists producing apparently safe, efficient and effective alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, using induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Compared to the speculative, controversial and dangerous embryonic stem cell research that Mr. Obama has insisted on funding illegally, iPS cell and adult stem cell research is a cheaper, faster, safer, more efficient and quicker path to real cures for real patients.
So here is the evidence, Mr. President. Will you now keep your word and restore science to its rightful place, obey the law and focus our funding on ethical and effective stem cell research that offers the best hope for real patients?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Castle's cloning coverup

Rep. Castle
Primary voters may have kicked Delaware Republican Rep. Michael Castle out of the House, but his deceptive and deadly bill to fund human cloning lives on.
Rather than pragmatically funding the proven and non-controversial adult stem cell research that is already providing help and hope for real patients, stubborn ideologues like Castle have ignored the evidence and determined instead to fund human cloning and lethal experimentation on living human embryos.
President Obama continues to shovel out hundreds of millions of dollars to speculative embryo-killing stem cell research, despite the clear illegality of doing so. That's why two adult-stem-cell scientists, James L. Sherley and Theresa Deisher, along with the Christian Medical Association and others, filed a lawsuit to enforce the federal law that clearly bans federal funding of “the creation of a human embryo ... for research purposes” and “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.”
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with our arguments and temporarily halted the federally funded embryo destruction. That ruling infuriated the "clone and kill" crowd in Congress, who refocused on passing Castle's bill, “The Stem Cell Research Advancement Act” (H.R. 4808) before voters kicked more of them out of office.
By deploying semantics and sophistry, Castle's bill would actually authorize federal funding of human-cloning research. The bill craftily redefines “human cloning” as implanting a cloned embryo in a womb, rather than using the obvious definition of creating an embryo through cloning. By allowing the creation of a clone but barring her implantation, the bill actually mandates killing the cloned human being.
It's time for voters to demand that their politicians stop funding illegal, lethal and unethical research and instead focus on the proven and effective adult stem cell research that offers infinitely greater potential to help real patients right now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RU-486 abortion pill deadly to mother and baby

Ten years after the FDA's politically streamlined approval of the RU-486 abortion pill, an abortion advocate tells USA Today, "It's unlikely that mifepristone [RU-486] will ever completely replace early surgical abortions."
A decade of experience with RU-486 clearly shows why: The powerful pill can be as deadly to the mother as it is to her developing baby.
The FDA acknowledges that since it approved the chemical abortifacient in September 2000, the agency "has received reports of serious bacterial infection, bleeding, ectopic pregnancies that have ruptured, and death. Those reports led to the revision of the black box labeling."
Commonplace off-label uses of the pill further intensify the risks to women's health and lives. Abortion clinics that prescribe RU-486 for home use put women at risk, because it is too difficult to distinguish the pain and bleeding that typically accompany RU-486 from similar symptoms that foreshadow fatal septicemia.
A recall petition document filed in 2002 with the Food and Drug Administration by physicians and women's advocates chronicles how politically pressured FDA officials ditched the agency's own well-established standards in accepting poorly constructed RU-486 trials that were not blinded, randomized, or concurrently controlled (see also 21 C.F.R. § 314.126). The FDA also inexplicably waived its rule requiring the testing of all new drugs for their potential effects on children and teens (see also 21 C.F.R. § 314.55).
Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that in the interest of patient safety, the FDA must objectively evaluate drugs based on medical evidence--not political pressure.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Physicians herald stem cell breakthrough, call for Obama to "restore science to its rightful place"

"All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures."
David Stevens, MD
That's how the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, sizes up the battle over stem cell science. The organization heralded the recent news of scientists producing apparently safe, efficient and effective alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, saying that the breakthrough should help stop federal funding of obsolete, embryo-destroying research. The CMA was an original party to a lawsuit that on Aug. 23 won a temporary halting of all federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.
"This is terrific news for patients and those who care for them, offering solid promise for ethical, efficient and timely stem cell-based therapies," declared CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens. "This breakthrough validates many other significant proofs of the therapeutic promise of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and adult stem cells.
"Compared to the speculative, controversial and dangerous embryonic stem cell research that the administration insists on funding illegally, iPS cell and adult stem cell research is a cheaper, faster, safer, more efficient and quicker path to the cures we need.
"This study should put one of the final nails in the coffin of federally funded embryonic stem cell research. This breakthrough is further evidence that the government's illegal funding of embryo-destroying research is like investing in vinyl record technology in a digital age. With patients desperately waiting for cures and ethical alternatives showing such great promise, it is increasingly ludicrous to spend and speculate our tax dollars instead on unethical, illegal and cancer-producing embryonic stem cell research.
Dr. Stevens explained, "These new iPS cells are safer; there is no evidence of a risk of causing cancer by using viruses to insert genes into cells. The new cells are produced more efficiently, taking just 17 days to create. The new iPS cells are cheaper to develop, can easily tissue match the patient that the therapy are given too and are morally acceptable to all. The fact that these iPS cells strategy can then turn those cells into ones that could be used for transplants is a huge step forward as well.
How can anyone who studies this evidence objectively continue to insist that our government, in a time of financial crisis, should continue to shovel hundreds of millions of tax dollars down the black hole of speculative embryo-destroying research? Unfortunately, some prominent scientists and universities remain blinded by the prospect of cashing in on patents they hold on embryonic stem cell lines and the processes for using them.
We're not holding our breath for advocates of embryo-destroying research to suddenly admit they were wrong, but scientists of all people should understand that hypotheses are just that--hypothetical.
All the formaldehyde in the world can't preserve the dead and decaying hypothesis that embryonic stem cell research is the Holy Grail of cures. Embryonic stem cell research advocates need to put aside their misguided ideology and financial interests and let science pursue real cures for real patients.
"President Obama has said he will base funding decisions on evidence and 'restore science to its rightful place.'
Well, here is the evidence, Mr. President--so let's restore science to its rightful place, obey the law and focus our funding on ethical and effective stem cell research that offers the best hope for real patients.