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Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't let morally myopic geeks rule the world: FDA to consider baby-cloning technique

If you're not a geneticist and gloss over bioethics news reports that have too many words longer than six letters, join the club. But sometimes it takes liberal arts graduates to rein in mad scientists, because bespectacled geeks focused too long on their microscopes can easily fall prey to moral myopia.
That seems to be the case as some scientists push the ethical envelope in genetics and human cloning. The most recent scientific schemes entail creating test tube babies, by killing two human embryos or by cloning human babies from destroyed embryos. If only this were the stuff of science fiction...but the FDA is actually formally considering these weird and wrong techniques.
Usually only bioethically rogue countries--like China and England--allow such techniques. But now the US FDA Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee has announced it will hold a committee meeting to consider these issues ("oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility").
If you're still reading after that mouthful, check out this article and also the formal comment below that I submitted to the FDA for the Christian Medical Association:

Food and Drug Administration
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
1401 Rockville Pike, HFM-71
Rockville, MD 20852
Transmitted via email to Gail.Dapolito@fda.hhs.gov

RE: Public comment submission to the Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, regarding its consideration of oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility
The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) opposes germ line genetic engineering on prudential, ethical and humanitarian grounds:

1.      Mitochondrial transfer poses an unacceptable prudential risk, since our nascent knowledge of genetics remains grossly inadequate to predict unintended genetic consequences passed down to future generations.

2.      Germ line genetic engineering also transgresses the ethical principle of autonomy; no successive generation can provide informed consent for the consequences of the precursor generation's genetic experimentation.

3.      Techniques such as "pronuclear transfer"--a method of cloning from an IVF embryo--involve destroying living, genetically complete human embryos, further violating moral and ethical boundaries.

4.      Procedures involving germ line genetic engineering are not essential, since ethical options remain for women with an identified high risk. Providing a loving home for a child through adoption, for example, far surpasses any perceived value of retaining a measure of genetic relation attained at the risk of tragic genetic consequences.

5.      Opening the door to germ line genetic engineering also opens the door to the dehumanizing, utilitarian quest for perfect children--"designer babies." Rather than treating children as a commodity fulfilling parents' dreams, our humanitarian values and our Constitution require us to treat every human being as inherently valuable and worthy of love, respect and protection.

We urge the Committee to reject oocyte modification in assisted reproduction as unacceptably risky, unethical and inhumane.
Thank you for your consideration of these views.

Action:

Visit this web site for details on how to submit a written comment or make an oral presentation to the committee.

Your comment need not be long; the important thing is to make your life-affirming views known. Don't let morally myopic geeks rule the world.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

March for Life pics show wide range of people supporting life

Just got back from the March for Life. Thousands marched from the National Mall in Washington, DC to the Supreme Court to commemorate the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

As my good friend Jeanne Monahan, President of March for Life, introduced me and others on the platform, I felt heartened to look out on so many people supporting life--and especially the young. The next generation isn't buying the convoluted rationale that the life of a baby is somehow of such little consequence that the law will allow the ending of her precious life by almost any means.

Here are some pics from the event (before my batteries gave out) that give you an idea of the wide range of people who support life:







Friday, January 10, 2014

Stop your taxes from subsidizing abortions - support No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act


On Jan. 9, the US House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” 
This bill simply extends a long-held principle favored by most Americans--that our tax dollars should not fund abortions, which continue to divide our nation while denying the right to life to over a million babies a year. Since abortion rights advocates insist that abortion should be a personal choice free from government involvement, let them follow through on that assertion by keeping our tax dollars out of that choice.
The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”  would make the pro-life Hyde amendment--no taxpayer funds for abortions--permanent and government-wide and also would stop funding abortion insurance coverage in Obamacare (the “Affordable Care Act,” public law #111-148).

The subcommittee heard testimony in support of H.R. 7 from a pair of esteemed colleagues:
  • Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law (video, written testimony)
  • Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director, Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (video, written testimony)
Opening Statement by Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ)




Let your Representative and Senators know you want them to support this vital legislation, by clicking on these links:
Keep tax dollars from subsidizing abortion - House bill   
Keep tax dollars from subsidizing abortion - Senate bill

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nuns off the hook for now: SCOTUS crimps Obamacare's abortifacient pills mandate

Capping off a disastrous year for the Obama administration and its signature healthcare law debacle, one of President Obama's own appointees to the Supreme Court said the Obama administration for now must put a hold on its drive to force nuns and other religious objectors to provide pills that can end the life of a developing human being. As the Washington Post reported just three minutes before ringing in the new year,
"Justice Sonia Sotomayor late Tuesday night decided to block implementation of the contraceptive coverage requirement, only hours before the law’s insurance coverage went into effect on New Year’s Day. Her decision, which came after federal court filings by Catholic-affiliated groups from around the nation in hopes of delaying the requirements, throws a part of the president’s signature law into temporary disarray."
The US Constitution's First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
That's pretty clear and strong, but this administration seems determined to push the limits of the First Amendment by asserting its power over citizens. Because the First Amendment is not an absolute protection--free speech does not extend to libel, for instance--there are times when the Government might be justified in stepping over the First Amendment for an exceptional reason.
Federal law (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed overwhelmingly by a bipartisan Congress two decades ago), provides guidance for such instances. The law states that whenever its actions impinge on religious freedom, the Government must demonstrate a compelling interest and must use the least restrictive means to obtain its objective.
But the Obamacare abortifacient mandate, promulgated by the Obama Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), violates this law on both fronts.
  • First, the HHS mandate violates the compelling interest test. President Obama himself claimed that 98 percent of women already use contraceptives. The pills generally cost a few dollars and can be purchased easily in virtually any corner drugstore. Where is the compelling interest in the government suddenly inserting itself to mandate the provision of an already ubiquitous product? Moreover, of all the drugs that might merit a compelling Government interest in providing--such as truly lifesaving but expensive cancer drugs that most patients could not afford--contraceptives would be near the bottom of the list. And since when does our Government have a compelling interest in preventing the birth of babies? Only in the sad and bleak world of those who consider babies a hindrance to personal achievement does that argument resonate.
  • Second, the HHS mandate violates the least restrictive means test. The mandate requires virtually all employers (exempting houses of worship but not church-affiliated or other Christian ministries to provide free contraceptives to employees through the health insurance programs they buy. All over the world, the US Government hands out free contraceptives, courtesy of our tax dollars. But now all of a sudden, here in the USA, the US Government is unwilling to pay for contraceptives. Instead, employers and their insurance companies must provide the pills to everyone everywhere, for free--as if every woman from The Hamptons to Beverly Hills needs free contraceptives. So instead of using the least restrictive means to obtain its goal of universal contraceptives, the Obama administration uses the most restrictive means, trampling religious liberty with impunity.
The HHS abortifacients mandate says in effect, "We could provide the pills, but we'd rather make nuns provide them."
Thankfully, even President Obama's own appointee to the Supreme Court recognizes the religious liberty-trampling arrogance of such an assertion.