22 gennaio 2007

About the Morning After Pill and Planned Parenthood's blood money

Morning-After Blues
Pill Promises Not Kept

By Father John Flynn

ROME, JAN. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The debate continues in many countries over the use of the so called morning-after pill. In Chile, after many months of conflict over the issue, the government gave the go-ahead to the distribution of the pill last September. On Jan. 12, however, Chile's Constitutional Court voted 6-4 to halt the pill.

According to an Associated Press report that same day, the judges invalidated the program under which the pill is distributed because it was authorized by an administrative decree, rather than by a presidential decree or a parliamentary law.

The halt to the pill's distribution may well be short-lived. The government responded to the decision by announcing that Chilean President Michelle Bachelet would issue a decree to overcome the technical fault found by the court.

The Catholic Church in Chile strongly objected to the program implemented by the government. In a declaration Sept. 7, the episcopal conference pointed out the possible abortive effects of the pill if conception had occurred.

The bishops also criticized the program for undermining the role of parents. The government's program foresees the distribution of the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14, without the need for parental approval. This deprives parents of their legitimate authority in educating and guiding children, the bishops stated.

The continuing debate in Chile comes when doubt is rising over the effectiveness of programs involving the widespread distribution of the morning-after pill. Long claimed by its promoters as necessary to help reduce abortions, in practice there is no evidence that it has any such effect.

A review of 23 studies on the different types of "emergency contraceptives," published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds no evidence that use of the pill lowers pregnancy or abortion rates.

In its Jan. 8 report on the journal article, the Washington Times commented that in 2005, researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization connected to abortion provider Planned Parenthood, published a report arguing that the use of the pill and other "emergency contraceptives," had prevented 51,000 abortions in 2000.

Such arguments continue to be repeated. "It should be a no-brainer that we increase access to contraception, and in particular make the morning-after pill available over the counter," argued New York Times editorial page columnist Nicholas Kristof, in an article May 2.

More pills, more abortions

Another report, published Jan. 8, confirmed the failure of the morning-after pill to reduce abortion. A Spanish Web site, Forum Libertas, analyzed what had happened in the country since the pill's introduction. In 2000, the year before the pill was introduced, there were 60,000 abortions, a rate of 7.5 abortions for every 1,000 women under 20.

By 2005, fewer than 506,000 morning-after pills were distributed. At the same time, however, the number of abortions that year had risen to 91,000, and the rate of abortion for women under 20 rose to 11.5 abortions for every 1,000 women.

Similar findings were reported in Britain last year. The Sept. 15 issue of the British Medical Journal published an editorial authored by Anna Glasier, director of a National Health Service unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Glasier wrote: "Emergency contraception has been heralded as the solution to rising abortion rates." "Some authors have suggested that almost a million abortions could be prevented in the United States annually if every woman used emergency contraception every time she needed it."

"Yet, despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the United Kingdom," the article continued. In fact, wrote Glasier, they have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions) to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2004 (185,400 abortions). She added that increased use of emergency contraception in Sweden has not been associated with a reduction in abortion rates.

Concerns had already been raised over the use of the morning-after pill in Scotland. In a report published in November 2005 by the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Dr. Anne Williams observed that the morning-after pill "is wrongly and misleadingly labeled 'emergency contraception' by medical and government bodies."

"It is misleading because it conceals the fact that it may work, not by preventing conception, but by preventing further survival and development of an already existing embryo," the report explained.

The term contraception is insufficient to describe the full effect of the morning-after pill, wrote Williams. In fact, the pill may act to prevent implantation (attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus), which occurs approximately seven days after conception has taken place. Contraceptives prevent conception, not implantation. "Acts which are post-conceptive cannot reasonably be included in the definition of contraception," she stated.

Health concerns

The report also observed the lack of adequate and in-depth research on the short- and long-term safety implications of the morning-after pill. This is particularly of concern when it comes to women who repeatedly use the pill.

The report cited evidence from seven family planning clinics, showing that more than half the women had used the morning-after pill at least once that year, and 25% had used it three or more times. Tracking health problems due to frequent use of the morning-after pill will also be problematic due to the nature of programs implemented by some governments, which include free distribution without a need for medical prescriptions.

Williams also argued that diminishing the fear of pregnancy through recourse to the morning-after pill may bring about a casual approach to entering a sexual relationship, with little excuse for a young woman to refuse. Greater sexual activity could well contribute to higher levels of sexually transmitted diseases.

Concern over the health effects of the pills were also raised by Susan Wills, associate director for education at the pro-life office of the U.S. bishops' conference. Plan B, one brand of the morning-after pill, and other methods of "emergency contraception" are the equivalent of taking from four to 40 times the daily dose of various oral contraceptive pills in a 12-hour period, she noted in an article published Aug. 15 on the Web site National Review Online.

Negative effects of the morning-after pill include severe disruption to the menstrual cycle, convulsions, and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies. In spite of these dangers, last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, eased rules on Plan B, allowing women to buy it without a prescription.

Promoters of the pills continue to press for its evermore frequent use, to the point of advocating it should be present in every woman's bathroom medicine cabinet, reported the British newspaper the Telegraph on Dec. 14.

In December the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said women should treat the pill as they would aspirin. "We are trying to make the morning-after pill as normal as Nurofen," a spokesman told the newspaper.

Norman Wells, the director of the Family Education Trust, criticized this attitude as "very irresponsible." Wells argued that its frequent use could have negative effects in the long term. He also commented that when the morning-after pill was first approved for use in Britain, it was proposed as something to be used only in exceptional circumstances. Now, however, it is marketed as if it were as insignificant as an aspirin. A move that should raise doubts over the priorities of some organizations.

17 gennaio 2007

Excellent news about stem cells

There is so much controversy in this area, and what I've heard is this - proponents of embryonic stem cell research say that: 1. it is not bad to kill the embryo, 2. this method has/ will work(ed), 3. the other method is futile/ have shown no signs of promise. Proponents of the adult stem cell research say that 1. it is murder to kill an embryo (they are right), and 2 & 3 are basically the same.

When I hear these debates, I often smell a rat. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research are often attacked ad-hominem - their science is not what is attacked, but their person... character, ideas, religion, philosophy, what kind of car they drive, etc. That's a red flag to me.

Anyway, here is an even newer type of stem cell research - amniotic stem cell research - maybe everyone can shut up now and start working on this.

Vatican Official Hopeful at Stem Cell Discovery
Asks Scientists to Help Consider Ethical Implications

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care says he is hopeful about the news that stem cells can be obtained from amniotic fluids.

Following last week's announcement, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán said on Vatican Radio that he received the news with hope, as long as the ethical conditions proper to all transplants are respected.

Acknowledging he is not a scientist, the cardinal called on researchers to assist in understanding the ethical significance of the discovery.

Unlike the method of obtaining stem cells that requires the destruction of human embryos, initial infomation seems to indicate that this newly-dicovered method for extracting stem cells can be in accord with respect for human life.

The discovery is the result of the efforts of scientists of Harvard University, together with researchers of Padua, Italy, and of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina. It has sparked intense debate.


Neonatologist Carlo Valerio Bellieni of the Le Scotte University Polyclinic of Siena told ZENIT that "the discovery of the presence of stem cells in the amniotic fluid is encouraging."

Bellieni said that, according to studies, these cells "are readily available and it seems they are found in high quantity."

"Surely this discovery is a strong message for those who manage research in this field: Funds are needed for studying these cells and for the 'banks' that keep this precious liquid," he added.

"As occurs with the blood of the umbilical cord, already at birth the amniotic fluid is available in great quantity" Bellieni, who is a correspondent member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, explained.

He underlined the need to found "a well-structured network of collection and conservation."

"Obviously, this leads one to wonder if it is reasonable to allocate copious funds to obtaining cells extracted from human embryos, with their consequent death, without having obtained or even perceived a clinical result," Bellieni added. "The latter are funds that could be used to collect effective and useful adult stem cells."

Ethical risks

Asked about the ethical risks connected to this discovery, the neonatologist expressed two considerations: "The first, that private use not be made of the amniotic fluid … this must be kept in mind because, sadly, we see a certain tendency to privatize biological material that could be of common use, as happens in several countries in the case of blood from the umbilical cord, which can be kept for personal use instead of putting it into a public bank.

"Many international scientific societies have protested against this waste and this attitude that discriminates against those who cannot keep the stem cell material for reasons of patrimony.

"The second consideration arises on ensuring that there would be no danger to the newborn in collecting the amniotic fluid."

Bellieni reiterated, however, that the fluid can be attained without amniocentesis.

"Once again it is the facts that speak for themselves," Bellieni added. "Scientific research is a serious thing. To want to force it for ideological reasons, as can happen in the case of those who see the use of human embryos as the only way, leads to waste of money and loss of precious time.

"Once again we see that respect for human life, together with the capacity for research, leads in the right direction of healing and health."

15 gennaio 2007

On Adapting to "Modern Times"

On Adapting to "Modern Times"
Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
"Those who write today on the theme of any one country in Christendom are haunted by the knowledge that their theme is uncertain. The subject which they desire to treat is not sufficiently fixed in the dimension of time.... We predicate of any one province of Christendom that it is thus and thus, but even as we make the affirmation the condition we take for granted may be changing — such is the peculiar misfortune, but also the peculiar interest of the time in which we live."— Hilaire Belloc, "Spain," Places (London: Cassell, 1942), 175.

A friend of mine, whose wife is Spanish, sent me a news item dated April 5, 2006, from Madrid. The headlines read, "Spain ‘Will Not Be Catholic in 20 Years’". These were not what I would call "encouraging words." If they are not Catholic, we might wonder, what they will be instead? We already know how the Spanish electorate capitulated to the bombing of a Spanish commuter train by pretending that no problem existed with Muslim forces in the world or in their back yard. To solve their consternation, they elected a socialist. This solution is almost invariably a formula for further disaster on more than one score.

But the article about Catholic decline from El Pais was an account of a survey by the Fundacion Santa Maria (just what "Santa Maria" might think of the results is not indicated). The survey told of "mounting disgust" with the Catholic Church. We know, of course, that people can be "disgusted" both with the good and with the bad. I would presume, judging from Christ’s temptation in the desert, that Lucifer was rather "disgusted" with Christ’s performance. We know the now suddenly famous Judas was also annoyed at Christ. Thus, this so-called "mounting disgust" of the Catholic Church may be directed against what is good about her, granted the much publicized faults and sins of her members. The Catholic Church, in the form it is, is in the world because of sinners, who usually do not appreciate being reminded of their real status before God or one another.

In addition, we are told that in Spain an increasing "disbelief" in God is prevalent. What was the reason for this "trend?" First of all, the present generation in Spain, we are informed, will not bring up their children "as believers." Only 49% of Spaniards now affirm that they are Catholic, and that figure evidently included those who said they were Catholic but did not practice the faith. The survey dealt only with those from 18-24 years of age. Back in 1996, 77% of the same group said they were Catholic, clearly a significant change. Nor did the survey indicate just how few children the Spaniards are having anyhow.

The survey’s authors went on to "explain" why this decline took place. Not unexpectedly, it was because "the Church failed to adapt to modern times." You have to love someone so naive. Let us suppose that the Church had, over the centuries, accepted the principle implicit in this reasoning. Each new "modern times" would mandate a new ecclesiastical and ethical configuration. The Church would not be the same in doctrine and rite over the centuries, but would be something "modern" in each new generation. No matter if what it held in one "modern time" was just the opposite of what was held in a subsequent "modern time." Logic doesn’t count. The Spanish youth are eager to be up-to-date, however rapidly that up-to-datedness becomes, in turn, out-of-date. Just let them know what "modern times" signifies and they are eager for the next step, whatever it is. Nothing will be too modern for them, by this logic, nor will anything ever be the same.

But it gets better. One Juan Gonzalez Anleo, who was an author of the report, ventured to explain the situation further. "The Church’s ‘unpopular’ stances on issues such as the legitimization of gay marriage or abortion have alienated young people." No doubt this is the most profound piece of op-ed advice given to the Church since it was told to "go forth and teach all nations!"

On reading such an absurd passage, one hardly knows whether to laugh or cry. We are led to believe that all over fair Spain we find lying around in all the public squares alienated youth, struck down by the horrible idea that marriage is for the purpose of children, that it is the affair of a man and a woman, and that children in wombs are not to be killed. Poor things!

Here is Schall’s suggestion about how to handle this agonizing problem. In order for Spain to become Catholic again, all we need to do is to convince their bishops or preferably the Pope, to approve gay marriage and abortion. Suddenly, miraculously, the Spanish youth from 18-24 will leap up out of their lethargy to become enthusiastic believers again. They will do the flamenco in all the bars, all the while rejoicing that they are now legitimately members of "modern times."

Frankly, it is not unlike claiming that if the Church in Germany had approved the racism of the Hitler Jugend movement, itself once a form of "modern times," all indoctrinated Nazi youth would have suddenly become pious Catholics. It is all very simple. All the Church has to do to regain its prestige in Spain, according to this theory, is to deny its basic tenets. If you come down from the Cross, we will adore you. Personally, I cannot believe the Spanish youth are so stupid, but I am just reporting what I read in the papers.

Another way to look at this logic would be to say that if the Church ceased being Catholic, the Spanish youth would flock to its membership. The Church here is presented as a kind of reflection of "modern times." It takes its cue not from Scripture and tradition, not from what it was to hold down the ages, but from a survey of what local Spanish youth maintain. Thus, whatever "modern times" holds, the Church must hold. If it does not, the youth will be modern come what may – whatever "modernity" might imply, and we know what it implies for the survey tells us.

The long and short of it is, however, that if the Church suddenly approves abortion and gay marriage, there is no Church, whatever you might call its remnants. The Spanish youth may choose not to practice what the Church teaches. No one denies that. They are already paying a heavy penalty in seeing their numbers rapidly decline. Spain has the second lowest birth rate in Europe, after Italy. The Spanish youth can see, if they wish to see, that their disbelief leads to a radical change in their very numbers.

Mr. Gonzalez goes on to tell us that "the Catholic Church is the least trusted of any institution, including multi-national companies and NATO." Again, one has to laugh. Do we assume the Spanish youth trust Islam, the Russians, the Chinese, the French, or the ecologists? If they get rid of NATO and multi-nationals, what is left but a backward and defenseless country?

Moreover, "one in eight said the Church is excessively wealthy." That means, by my simple calculations, that seven in eight does not think the Church "excessively wealthy?"

The report ends with one other statistic. It says that 43% of those questioned said they still wanted "a church wedding," while 22% preferred a civil ceremony; just why, the column did not clarify. But if neither the one or the other produce children, what real difference does it make?

If we recall Belloc’s introductory remarks about the status of Christendom and the various countries within it, including Spain, we will be fascinated to read of Benedict XVI’s remarks on March 30 to a group of Christian politicians from the European Popular Party, among whom there were no doubt a few Spaniards. Pope Ratzinger, as did his predecessor, recalled again the obvious Christian heritage of Europe. Not a few politicians want to "relegate to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one’s own religious convictions" (L’Osservatore Romano, English, April 12, 2006).

The Pope noted how remarkably intolerant the advocates of a non-Christian Europe have themselves become. "One has to recognize that a certain secular intransigence shows itself to be the enemy of tolerance and of a sound secular vision of state and society." What does this "sound secular vision" entail?
When churches or ecclesiastical communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or an interference, since such interventions are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest.

The notion that it is somehow "intolerant" to speak the truth and address it to politicians for their serious consideration is something only "modern times" could come up with. We are seeing not a few governmental laws, and these in so-called democratic states, now telling us that it is "intolerant" even to cite Scripture or ideas based on it.

But what I am most interested in here, in light of the Spanish survey and its analysis that I have cited above, is the Pope’s rather blunt and clear statement of issues that we are told that the Church only need drop for it to catch up with "modern times." Speaking for the Catholic Church, the Pope stated that "the principal focus of her intervention in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable." You have to love this man!

Almost as if he read the article about the Spanish youth in advance, Benedict XVI then lists the three most important issues that are "not negotiable":

1) protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception to its natural death; 2) recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family — its defence based on marriage — and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its de-stabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; 3) the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

Thus, the Church stands for exactly the opposite of the plan put down for Spanish youth in their survey.

But what is even more significant about these positions that Pope Ratzinger reaffirms is the reasoning he presents for their being in the public order. "These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity." How often do we have to repeat that the final basis of Catholic and Christian opposition to abortion and gay marriage and such things is not the Bible or revelation, even those these sources also understand what is reasonable and obvious.

And finally, Benedict tells the European Christian politicians something that I hope did not startle them, but probably did:

The Church’s action in promoting them (these issues and principles) is therefore not confessional in character but is addressed to all people prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

So I am glad that I was sent the Spanish survey telling me that "Spain ‘Will Not Be Catholic in 20 Years.’" The main reason it will not be Catholic is the same reason there will be so few Spaniards in twenty years. Spain keeps up with "modern times."

"We predicate of any one province of Christendom that it is thus and thus, but even as we make the affirmation the condition we take for granted may be changing...." The Pope has it right, what is at issue is "the truth of the human person." We should not be surprised that this "truth" is not popular. Nor should we be surprised that it is "not negotiable." What would surprise us would be statistics showing those who deny these principles of reason were vigorously increasing and multiplying.

The truth is that those who deny them embrace a culture of death the likes of which Christendom has not previously seen. The fact is today that its most aggressive enemies continue rapidly to reproduce themselves gladly to replace the many Europeans who do not see the light of day because of the lethal embrace of "modern times." As I intimated, I cannot believe the Spanish youth, 18-24, are really to ill-informed as not to see this fate. Boiled down to its essence, what the Pope is saying to European politicians and Spanish youth is this, "stop blaming the Church and, for once in your lives, use your heads!"

14 gennaio 2007

The silence of the shepherds

The silence of the shepherds

Archbishop of Washington sits on his hands as pro-abortion Rep. Nancy Pelosi includes Mass at a Catholic college to celebrate her election as Speaker of the House

It’s not as if Nancy Pelosi is clueless about the gravity of pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians taking communion. The San Francisco congresswoman, who became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, was more than forthcoming about it in a 2003 newspaper interview.

“I never knew if this was the day it (communion) would be withheld,” Pelosi told the National Catholic Reporter in January 2003. “And that’s a hard way to go to church. Fortunately, I’m invited -- I have a big family -- I go to a lot of weddings, I’m in a different church every week. I’m a moving target.”

Pelosi was not “a moving target” for Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who had been made very aware of the Pelosi problem by the American Life League weeks before a Jan. 3 Mass celebrating her ascendancy to “most powerful woman in America” – a term Pelosi used to describe herself in festivities leading up to her election as Speaker.

But the archbishop apparently ignored appeals from the American Life League and other pro-life groups to prevent Pelosi from taking communion at the Mass, which was held at her alma mater, Trinity University , a Catholic institution. According to press reports, an archdiocesan spokesman said Wuerl did not have the authority to intervene at the college.

Outside the university chapel, pro-life protesters shouted, “Speaker Pelosi, Catholics don’t kill children!” Inside the chapel, details of the Mass were choreographed by Pelosi herself: her favorite flowers on the altar, music she selected used in the liturgy. The homily was delivered by controversial Jesuit priest Father Robert F. Drinan, who himself has supported “abortion rights.” Pelosi avoided confronting the demonstrators when the Mass concluded by slipping out a side door.

Ironically, the Mass was celebrated to honor the child victims of Hurricane Katrina and Darfur, a region in western Sudan where a genocidal, inter-tribal war has claimed nearly half a million lives.

“It is unconscionable for Rep. Pelosi to claim that the Catholic faith is an important part of her life while she relentlessly, categorically denies the teachings of the Church by supporting the killing of children through abortion,” said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League. “To add insult to injury, Pelosi is using the Catholic faith in an attempt to soften the rough exterior created by her continued support of abortion on demand.”

According to Project Vote Smart, Pelosi has been endorsed repeatedly by the National Abortion Rights Action League, and “supported the interests of Planned Parenthood 100 percent in 2006.”

Since first being elected to the House of Representatives from San Francisco ’s 8th Congressional District in 1987, Pelosi has voted to allow human embryonic stem cell research, against restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions, against making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime, and against a ban on partial-birth abortion.

© California Catholic Daily 2007. All Rights Reserved.

09 gennaio 2007

More on the NY Times.....

"all the news that's fit to print".... of course..

UN NGO at the Center of New York Times Reporting Scandal

By Samantha Singson

( NEW YORK — C-FAM) It has been revealed by Canadian-based LifeSiteNews.com that the New York Times published a grossly inaccurate story about abortion in El Salvador and that it was assisted in the incorrect story by a notorious pro-abortion group. Times freelancer Jack Hitt’s April 2006 story, “Pro-Life Nation”, reported on a woman serving a 30-year jail term for supposedly having an illegal abortion. To get the story, the Times relied on a translator from a UN-accredited non-governmental organization called Ipas that, among other things, sells portable abortion devices over the telephone.

The Times writer was trying to make a point about what happens when countries have pro-life laws; that women go to jail for having abortions. The problem with the story is that it is not true. The woman, Carmen Climaco, was not jailed for having an abortion, but for strangling to death her newborn infant. Court papers revealing this were easily obtained by LifeSite who then complained to the Times. Two Times editors defended the piece as accurate.

Ipas, the pro-abortion group in collusion with the inaccurate story launched a fundraising campaign to “help Carmen [Climaco] and other Central American women who are suffering under extreme abortion laws.”

A UN-accredited NGO since 1998, Ipas works “to enhance women’s reproductive choices and to eliminate unsafe abortions” and “to expand the availability and accessibility of medical equipment and supplies that health professionals need to deliver high-quality reproductive health services.” To this end, Ipas sells and distributes the manual vacuum aspirator (MVA), a portable abortion device.

A pro-life expert from Latin America told the Friday Fax, “Ipas is doing a lot of damage in our countries. Their aim is to legalize abortion in El Salvador , in Nicaragua and all of Latin America because they want to sell their abortion vacuum machines in huge quantities. They shouldn't have the status of an NGO since they are really dealers, they distribute and profit from selling these machines.”

Last Sunday, the New York Times ombudsman reported on the scandal and concluded that LifeSite was right and the Times was wrong and reported further that the Times had no plans to print a retraction or correction of the story. The Ipas website did not mention the Times’ inaccurate portrayal of the Climaco case, despite benefiting from a fundraising campaign based on the false story. The Ipas’ website refers to the ombudsman’s report only as calling “attention to the tragic situation faced by women in El Salvador who must make crucial reproductive choices.”

03 gennaio 2007

Stop the cloning madness

This opinion piece is over 2 years old. It's author is Dr. James L. Sherley, who was recently denied tenure at MIT for what he feels to be intellectual discrimination. He is going on a hunger strike, and says that either MIT will give him tenure, or he will die outside the offices. Brave man. There was another man who did something like this, Gandhi. Dr. Sherley is not doing this out of selfish motives. He was denied tenure because of an ethical position he takes that is currently unpopular in academia. No more, no less.

Stop the cloning madness
By James L. Sherley | October 20, 2004

NO! THIS is the answer that the review board at Harvard and Provost Steven Hyman must give to Harvard scientists who now want a go-ahead for human therapeutic cloning. They must say "No!" to meet their responsibility of ensuring that research does not cause undue harm to human subjects, is ethical, and is scientifically sound. Human therapeutic cloning fails all three tests.

First, there is no credible scientific debate on whether human embryos are alive and human. The important debate is over whether human embryos should be killed for the gain of others. Second, given the unresolved debate about whether this research is ethical, no reviewing body could, in good faith, approve it. Finally, the research is unsound, making the destruction of human lives even more tragic. The research is unsound because it is well-established that cloned cells contain genetic defects. The Harvard scientists suggest no choice but to accept these defects and hope for the best. Well, their response is not good enough for a public that hopes so desperately for timely new therapies for incurable diseases. Their response is not good enough when there are better approaches that do not require destruction of human embryos.Adult stem cell research is predicted to beat the pants off human therapeutic cloning research when it comes to yielding significant advances in cell medicine. And adult stem cells provide better approaches. These cells that naturally function in the regeneration and repair of adult tissues pose no ethical concerns. Some stem cell biologists at Harvard, who have disparaged adult stem cells, neglect to inform the public that therapeutic cloning strategies must address the same problems that they ascribe to adult stem cells, as well as difficulties that are unique to human embryonic stem cells. I call on Harvard's institutional review board to listen carefully to what its scientists are saying and to what they are not saying. Why do scientists who promote therapeutic cloning decry reproductive cloning? These stem cell biologists, who would kill a human embryo without a second thought only to turn it into a tube of genetically defective cells, sit piously at microphones in Senate hearings and denounce reproductive cloning which has the goal of human birth.

Why is it reprehensible to even entertain the idea of reproductive cloning? Public discussion on this question has been oddly scarce.

Let's be honest. We got over the idea of in vitro fertilization soon enough. And IVF has the same feature of prospective parents choosing to have offspring with their own genes instead of adopting the potentially defective ones of others. So, although reproductive cloning might be the extreme of conceit and selfishness, IVF is certainly part of the same spectrum. What is the moral problem with reproductive cloning? Forget about the potential to exploit cloned individuals. Cloned children will be no worse off than IVF offspring except in one respect. They are likely to have genetic defects, just like therapeutic clones. So why are scientists at Harvard pushing therapeutic cloning? Simply put, they do so to support their desire to make and probe human embryos. If they could do this without harming their human subjects, then maybe it could be allowed. But they kill them.My message is not that we should embark on reproductive cloning. My message is that the same scientists who have glibly told us that we should not consider a new way of creating human life are now destroying human life daily. What madness is this? They have gotten this far by pushing their argument that destroying human embryos for therapeutic cloning is an alternative to "horrid reproductive cloning," which has potential to be life-giving! The debate may rage on for years about whether the lives of human embryos matter. But one thing is for sure. The road that the Harvard institutional review board now peers down will change all of us, in a tragic way, if they make us go down it. I am hopeful that, despite the political and social pressures they surely face, they will measure up to their responsibility and protect all human life from undue harm and wasted use, no matter how insignificant it may seem to some.

They can stop this madness today.

Source: Boston Globe