FRC Blog

Prison Time for Cloning Fraud?

by David Prentice

August 24, 2009

South Korea is considering four years in prison for Woo-Suk Hwang, the scientist who deceived the world with fraudulent claims he had cloned human embryos and then destroyed them for their embryonic stem cells, in 2004 and 2005. Last year Hwang was prohibited from working with human eggs and embryos.

Despite the ethical concerns and better alternatives, various scientists continue to pursue cloning of human embryos for experiments.

A brief history of human cloning claims.

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Lawsuit Filed to Stop Federal Funding of Embryo-Destructive Research

by David Prentice

August 22, 2009

A suit filed in federal court by a broad coalition of plaintiffs, including scientists, pro-life advocates, and parents who wish to adopt embryos, seeks to protect human embryos from destruction for research.

The complaint, filed Wednesday, Aug 19, names HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and NIH Director Francis Collins as defendants. The lawsuit seeks to reverse the recently-adopted NIH guidelines that outline steps to take when destroying embryos to qualify for federal research funds. In essence, the guidelines create an incentive in the form of taxpayer dollars to cannibalize so-called leftover embryos from fertility clinics.

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Never Despair

by Robert Morrison

August 20, 2009

A friend recently gave me a great doorstop of a book, Sir Martin Gilberts eighth and final volume of the biography of Winston Churchill. Its 1366 pages. I thanked my friend profusely for his gift even as my wife asked what else I needed to study about Winston Churchill.

Apparently, theres a great deal to learn. Start with that title: Never Despair. Volume VIII covers Churchills life from 1945 to his death in 1965. Churchill lost the election for Prime Minister in July, 1945. He was at the Potsdam Summit with the new U.S. President, Harry Truman, and the old Soviet ruler, Josef Stalin. Churchill left midway to go home to London for the election returns. He was confident of a Conservative Party victory. After all, had not he, Winston Churchill, not just brought the British people through the most terrifying experience in their long island history? Was he not the one privileged to give the lions roar when Britain stood alone against all the evil fury of Hitlers Luftwaffe? Churchill never said I told you so. Free people hate being told that. But everyone knew that it was good old Winston who was right all those years about Hitler and his wicked Nozzies. Sixty thousand Britons died in those terrible bombings of British cities in a conflict Churchill had dubbed the unnecessary war.

How could British voters give such a great man the boot? But they did. Churchills opponents in the Labour Party racked up an historic victory that year. Churchills Conservatives were not just beaten, they were thrashed. When his dear wife Clementine said the defeat might be a blessing in disguise, Winston answered with no little bitterness: Yes, but at the moment, it seems most effectively disguised. He wept he was so hurt, so disappointed. He later wrote that he had had a dream in which he saw his own naked body laid out under a sheet. This presentiment of defeat struck him with a sharp pang of death.

Soon, however, he rallied. Barely nine months after his thrashing, he went to America. In Fulton, Missouri, in President Trumans home state, Churchill delivered his historic Iron Curtain Speech. Later, he went to the continent of Europe and proposed reconciliation between France and Germany, a rapprochement that would soon form the basis for Churchills conception of a European Union.

He even found humor in his defeat. Offered a royal honor—a Knighthood of Order of the Garter— by King George VI, something of a consolation prize, he graciously turned it aside saying: How can I accept the Garter from my sovereign when the people have given me the boot? He quickly turned to painting and to writing. He directed the project that became his six-volume World War II memoirs, the only one of the wartime Big Three—Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin—to put his own inimitable stamp on history.

He published the majestic, four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. After British voters returned his Conservative Party to power, he served a second eventful term as Prime Minister. And this time, swept away by the beauty and grace of the young Queen Elizabeth II, he accepted her offer of a knighthood. On his eightieth birthday, Parliament gratefully voted him a gift of 50,000 pounds.

Before he eventually declined this money, he had fun thinking up ways to spend it. He came up with the idea of endowing an institute for the protection and study of—butterflies! He always loved them so. (To those who think of Winston as that bloody old war monger, consider this).

When he finally laid down his burden of office, his lifes adventure was not yet over. President John F. Kennedy awarded him an honorary citizenship in the Great Republic. He was only the second man in history to be made an honorary American citizen. It must have been especially sweet for Winston to hear Jack Kennedys stirring tribute to him. Kennedy said: When all others doubted Britains survival, [Winston Churchill] marshaled the English language and sent it into battle.

One of those who doubted was Kennedys own father, Joe. Old Joe Kennedy not only doubted, he hated. And he hated no one more than Winston Churchill.

All this Winston Churchill achieved after age 70, after his historic election defeat, after he saw himself dead in a dream. If he had accomplished nothing else in his life, what a life it would have been.

We all know President Obama has no use for Winston Churchill. He booted the bust of Churchill from the White House. It can certainly seem daunting today to oppose Obamas power. After all, he won an historic victory last fall. Arrayed with him are all those powerful groupsa worshipful media, a fawning academia, Planned Parenthood with its own hideous strength. He claims to have the votes to pass some form of government health care takeover. And he wants this very much.

But Winston Churchill taught us never to give in. Never Despair!

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Obama, Reason, Revelation and Abortion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 19, 2009

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. - Barack Obama

Then-Senator Obama made this statement during his speech to Jim Wallis’ “Call to Renewal” conference in 2006. Note two things:

(1) He effectively denies the commonality of natural law and the conscience the foundation of the universal values he commends and links opposition to abortion only to the revelation of Scripture.

(2) He also suggests that opposing abortion cannot be justified by our “common reality.”

As the first point, is the President prepared to argue that no “self evident truths” exist? Is the assertion that all men are created equal and have rights endowed to them by a Creator too culture-specific for Mr. Obama? And is the validity of these assertions determined simply by the number of people who agree with them?

As to the second point, is the “common reality” determined by the 50 percent plus one? If so, did the “common reality” of the Japanese military state in the 1930s surely justify the rape of Nanking?

Mr. Obama calls for our being amenable to reason. Yet he is unreasonable in refusing seriously to interact with the irrefutable scientific evidence that personhood begins at conception and, if so, that every person has value independent of his or her mother from that moment and therefore possesses and should obtain a legally-recognized right to life.

Perhaps the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured it all most clearly:

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.

Ethics (New York; Macmillan, 1965), pp. 175-6.

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New NIH Director

by David Prentice

August 19, 2009

FrancisCollins2Dr. Francis Collins has now been sworn in as the new Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), following his confirmation by the Senate and no confirmation hearings. In early interviews, Dr. Collins has laid out five main themes for NIH, and has noted that setting up a new human embryonic stem cell registry will be a high priority. An emphasis on human embryonic stem cells is expected, since Collins helped President Obama develop his new policy on embryonic stem cells. Dr. Collins supports use of “excess” human embryos, as well as cloning of human embryos for experiments, despite the fact that the scientific evidence shows that embryonic stem cells are not suited to treating patients, while adult stem cells continue to help thousands of patients for an ever-increasing variety of disorders.

While some questioned his nomination based on his religious beliefs, Collins was also quick to point out that he had no “religious agenda”. Of course, that should have been self-evident. Saying that one is a devout evangelical Christian while promoting embryo and cloning experiments, is a bit akin to claiming to be a devout Druid while promoting clear-cutting of forests.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

August 19, 2009

Here’s some news articles of interest for you to ponder this morning.

  • Clinical Trials Are Testing Stem Cells as Heart Failure Treatment,” Sarah Baldauf, U.S. News & World Report (August 18, 2009)
  • Researchers’ significant interest in using stem cells to treat heart failure arises, in part, because the disease is so prevalent. The American Heart Association estimates 5.7 million Americans live with the disease and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. “When you put [stem cells] into a heart, some can differentiate to become blood vessel and others to become heart muscle cells,” explains James Willerson, president of the Texas Heart Institute in Houston and a principal investigator of a separate, National Institutes of Health-sponsored stem cell trial for heart failure. It is important, he says, that stem cells also “have substances that recruit other cells and promote life.” This combination holds incredibly powerful potential for not only rejuvenating but rebuilding organs and tissue and turning back the clock for ailing patients. Willerson is optimistic about the therapeutic future of stem cells, which can be extracted from fat cells, hair cells, and other diverse cell types. “I believe we will be able to regenerate the whole heart of a human being with stem cells,” he says.”

  • Medical Groups Promoted HPV Vaccine Using Drug Company Money,” Rob Stein, The Washington Post (August 18, 2009)
  • DART Driver Refused Bus With Atheist Sign,” KCCI-8 Des Moines (August 18, 2009)
  • Des Moines Area Regional Transit confirms a driver refused to drive a bus with an atheist advertisement Monday.”

  • Poll: Majority of Americans Understand Health Care Bills Mean Abortion Funding,” Steven Ertelt, (August 19, 2009)
  • The pro-life movement has been working overtime to educate Americans about the fact that the health care bills in Congress would result in massive abortion funding. Despite a slew of mainstream media stories to the contrary, the public appears to have received the message.

    A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday shows a majority of Americans agreed that the health care bills “will likely use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions.”

    The poll found 50 percent agreed that is true while 37 percent of Americans don’t believe that is likely.”

  • Law Requiring Ultrasounds for Abortions Is Struck Down,” Kari Lydersen, The Washington Post (August 18, 2009)
  • An Oklahoma judge decided Tuesday that doctors do not need to perform ultrasounds and offer women detailed information about the tests before performing abortions, striking down the strictest such law in the country.”

  • Study Using Embryonic Stem Cells Is Delayed,” Bloomberg News (August 19, 2009)
  • The Geron Corporation said on Tuesday that regulators had held up its study of a therapy for injured spinal cords before even one patient could be enrolled, delaying the first human trial using embryonic stem cells.”

  • Christian Law Firm Fights ‘Ridiculous’ Criminal Charges Against School Officials,” Nathan Black, The Christian Post (August 18, 2009)

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When Zombies Attack

by David Prentice

August 17, 2009

Night_of_the_Living_DeadWho says science doesn’t provide relevant information for the public?

Canadian scientists have published an analysis on whether humans could survive an outbreak of zombies. The mathematical models indicate that, even with options for cures and quarantine, humanity doesn’t have a good chance against zombies. As the authors note in their paper, “We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.”

Yes, there is a practical side to this mathematical exercise—modeling spread of infectious disease. The article is part of a book titled “Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress” from Nova Publishers. But as the authors note in an interview, “Modelling zombies would be the same as modelling swine flu, with some differences for sure, but it is much more interesting to read.”

Given the results of the analysis, it might be a good idea to get a copy of “The Zombie Survival Guide“.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

August 14, 2009

Here’s some news articles of particular interest.

  • According to the New York Times, former President Bill Clinton defends end-of-life counseling that is included in the health care reform plan.
  • Steven Ertelt of has a great article about a CDC study that shows teen abortion rates are lower in states that accept abstinence funding.
  • Cleveland is becoming a leader in adult stem cell research. Continue reading the article from The Plain Dealer.
  • David French of Phi Beta Cons reported Tuesday that the EEOC went after Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina for refusing to cover oral contraceptives in its employer provided health insurance.
  • Prisoners in the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Virginia will now be allowed to receive religious mail, after the ACLU sent a letter to officials demanding that these letters containing biblical passages be distributed, as The Christian Post reports.

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