Category archives: Life & Bioethics

A Simple Equation: pro-life + pro-marriage = pro-family

by Erin Amsberry

August 7, 2015

On Monday, 100 groups and organizations signed a letter urging members of Congress to vote against the proposed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. It should come as no surprise that next to the usual abortion defenders such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, stood gay activist groups like the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign. This letter reminds us that while the abortion and gay “marriage” movements appear to be quite different, in reality, both are alike in that they present a clear affront to the family.

There is no dispute that the last few months have been significant ones for the future of the family. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court, through judicial activism, redefined an institution long-established as the foundation of society — marriage and subsequently, family. While the root of society has been attacked on one front, strides are being made to strengthen it on another. Many organizations, private citizens, and legislators are calling for legal action to be taken against Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, after videos surfaced suggesting a breach of federal law. One cannot ignore the strong connection between the fights for life and natural marriage, as they are alike in their significance and the similarity of the political battles that they face.

The similarities between Obergefell v. Hodges and Roe v. Wade abound. Those advocating abortion and same-sex marriage have disrupted social norms, used the courts to impose their worldview, and attempted to silence individuals who hold to the truth about marriage and the value of human life. The pro-life movement responded to Roe v. Wade by refusing to accept the decision as a settled debate; they continued to speak against abortion even though it was accepted as legal. The pro-marriage movement must respond in the same way to Obergefell v. Hodges. Public opinion did not shift overnight in the pro-life fight and there is admittedly much work yet to be done, but particularly at the state level, great strides have been made toward ending abortion.

The pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” movements are also similar in that they redefine terms and distort values. Abortion suggests that human life only has value once it is desired. Legalizing same-sex unions reduces marriage to nothing more than a contract between consenting adults. Both of these ideologies fail to recognize the more substantive nature of reality – that life is inherently valuable and marriage is much more than attraction between adults.

Same-sex “marriage” and abortion are inextricably linked because both attack the very foundation of society. A society that lacks a proper view of children relegates family to the status of a social institution which provides nothing more than companionship. Rebuilding a culture of life with a rightly understood value placed on children requires a proper view of sexuality since as social science research suggests, sexual license increases the incidence of abortion. There is much work to be done in influencing culture with the truth about marriage and life.

The alliance between pro-abortion and the gay rights supporters reveals that instead of standing solely for life or solely for marriage, pro-family advocates must unequivocally stand against all attacks on the family. Pro-marriage advocates can and must work with the pro-life movement toward the same goal of strengthening the family. As the gay activist and pro-abortion coalition letter reminds us, being comprehensively pro-family means standing up for the natural, intact family at all times, whether that means protecting life from conception to natural death, discouraging no-fault divorce, or upholding marriage between one man and one woman as God designed. Ultimately, all of these efforts influence one another.

Internal Chinese Populations

by Chris Gacek

June 29, 2015

China is now a world power, and we at the Family Research Council have commented on the brutality and inhumanity of its “one child” policy for years.  An excellent, recent article made clear that China’s severe population control policies exist on many levels – not just abortion.  Their harshness, however, puts the forced abortion diktat in a broader context of disregard for human beings.

The important Weekend Financial Times article (4/30/2015) by Jamil Anderline entitled, “China’s Great Migration.”  The focus of the story is a woman named Xiang Ju and the trek she makes from [x] to her rural homeland in China to celebrate the Chinese lunar New Year.  Along the way, Anderline fills in some basic facts about Chinese life – that are unknown to almost all Americans (I believe):

Not that Xiang Ju cares. She is about to join an annual ritual that is not only the biggest human migration but probably the biggest mammalian migration on earth each year. In 2015, an estimated 170 million people caught trains or flights out of China’s biggest cities heading home for the lunar New Year. The government counted about 3 billion “passenger trips” nationwide during the 40-day travel rush, including cars and buses.

Like Xiang Ju, most of these people were born and raised as peasant farmers in the countryside and later moved to China’s megacities to work in low-paid manufacturing, construction and service jobs. In 1978, on the eve of economic reforms that first unleashed this flood of humanity, less than 20 per cent of China’s population lived in a city. Today, 55 per cent of people in the world’s most populous country live in urban areas.

But about 275 million, or more than a third of China’s entire labour force, are migrant workers from the countryside, without the right to settle permanently or access the education, pensions or healthcare provided to those with hereditary “urban” status.

That last paragraph is stunning.  A population approaching 300 million constitute internal Chinese migrants who, merely because the moved out of the countryside, have limited access to numerous social services in some sort of irrational federalism.  Furthermore, they are not entitled to live in their new home cities.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, there is the phenomena of “hot money” by Chinese super-elites buying overseas real estate, including the U.S., as fear of the Xi government’s crackdown grows.  Go to the podcast page, and start listening at 19:00 (Jamil Anderlini / FT.com interview by John Batchelor and Gordon Chang).  Apparently, having more children than is allowed by the government is a status symbol among the Chinese elites who maintain overseas residences.

Brittany Maynard Needs to Go to a Basketball Game

by Chris Gacek

October 29, 2014

By now we are all well aware of the story of Brittany Maynard, a young married woman who is terminally ill with a brain cancer.  She has moved to Oregon in order to legally commit suicide.  (Here is Time magazine’s favorable article about her and Oregon’s suicide enabling act.)  Mrs. Maynard plans to kill herself with medical assistance in early November.

Not so well known is the story of Lauren Hill, a college freshman at Mt. Saint Joseph University in Ohio.  Miss Hill who also has terminal brain cancer, but she has chosen a different path.  She has been practicing for months so she can play in the team’s first basketball game this season on November 2nd.

I hope Brittany Maynard has the opportunity to view the CBS news story about Lauren Hill and realize that there is a better way for her. In the past months, Brittany has been touring places she has always wanted to see like the Grand Canyon. According the People Magazine article:

Though she set Nov. 1 as a tentative date to end her life, she’s always made it clear the date is not set in stone and she will make the decision based on the progression of her disease.

I have no doubt that if Brittany Maynard wanted to see Lauren play basketball this Sunday – tickets would be made available even though the game has sold out.  I imagine Lauren would tell Brittany to grasp every moment of life and to fight for those who will come later and need encouragement in life’s most difficult times.  Seeing Lauren Hill play will, in its own way, have a grandeur of equal stature to the Grand Canyon’s.  Brittany Maynard needs to see and understand that.

Public Confidence in CDC Drops

by Robert Morrison

October 22, 2014

Now public esteem for the long-respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has plummeted with the arrival of Ebola on American shores. A new CBS News poll found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the centers were doing a good job, down from 60 percent last year. In fact, of nine agencies tested, seven that were judged highly by a majority of Americans last year have now fallen below 50 percent.

I have had my own concerns for decades about CDC. When I was a young appointee in the federal education department under President Reagan, I was assigned to the mournful task of researching suicide among youth. Among other troubling things I learned was that, following the quiet repeal of laws against suicide by all the states, the suicide rate among young Americans tripled.

In the course of my research, I had a briefing book sent to me by CDC. It had the demographic tables for suicide among every group in America—from Ashkenazi Jews (very low) to Zuni Indians (tragically high).One statistic had me scratching my head. I called CDC in Atlanta to ask if numbers for the suicide rate among Black women could possibly be correct. They were near zero! “Well, yes, we’ve noticed that stat, too,” said the CDC staffer on the other end of the phone line, “We call it the BFPF—Black Female Protection Factor.” What is that, I asked. “They’re very religious,” came the reply.

CDC knows this, but they don’tadvertise this? I remembered the Public Service Announcement from TV from the 1950s—”The family that prays together stays together.”

Family Research Council’s respected MARRI—Marriage and Religion Research Institute—is now the best source to show (with incontrovertible evidence) the importance of marriage and faith in our families’ well-being.

Of course, the scales had already fallen from my eyes about CDC. I knew that they had employed Willard Cates there. In 1980, Cates was doing “abortion surveillance” for this federally-funded agency. He advised abortionists to charge fees based on the size of the foot of the unborn child whom they had killed. Even now, thirty-fouryearslater, that reality still send chills down my spine.

Article from The New York Times

Adult Stem Cells Help Bryan Hinkle Make a Lifesaving Comeback

by David Prentice

September 4, 2014

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Bryan Hinkle was living the American dream.  But a disease called CIDP got in the way.  CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the peripheral nerves.  Bryan was diagnosed with CIDP as a teenager, but the disease was masked and controlled with medication and life went on.  Then his disease came back with a vengeance, robbing him of virtually all feeling in his legs and feet.  He ended up in a wheelchair, depressed and afraid.  “My biggest fear was that I was going to die,” says Bryan of those darkest of days.  “This disease was winning and it was going to overtake me.  I was just living my days, waiting for the end to come.”

But then Hope made a comeback.  Bryan came across news of a doctor in Chicago who had developed a ground-breaking adult stem cell therapy for CIDP.  Bryan was accepted into the treatment program, and received a transplant of his own adult stem cells as part of the therapy.  Within two days he noticed a difference, and his recovery continued from there.

Today Bryan has his American dream back.  He leads a happy, healthy life thanks to adult stem cells, a discovery that’s changing the face of regenerative medicine and giving people real hope in their fight against dozens of diseases and conditions.  Bryan says, “I’ve regained my independence.  I’m helping take care of my children, I’m being the husband and the father that I dreamt about not too long ago.  And for that, I’m just thankful—thankful and amazed.”

See the video of Bryan Hinkle’s amazing comeback!


Send Your Ice Bucket Challenge Donation to Ethical, Successful Adult Stem Cell Research

by David Prentice

August 21, 2014

You’ve probably heard of it by now, the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Those challenged are supposed either to dump an ice bucket of cold water over their head, or donate to ALS research.  Most people do both, posting a video of their icy bath.  It’s a stunt, but has successfully raised awareness of ALS as well as donations for research.  But people should consider where their donations go and how the money is used.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a fatal, progressive neurological disease.  It attacks the nerves that control voluntary muscles, so it is sometimes termed “motor neuron disease”.  As the nerves die, muscles weaken and atrophy, including the muscles for breathing; most people suffering from ALS die of respiratory failure.  The cause is unknown and at this point there is no cure, and very little that can even slow disease progression.

So, raising awareness about ALS and increasing support for ALS research is a good thing.  But whether you participate in a challenge or just donate to important research, where should your donation go?

So far, most of the attention and millions of dollars in donation have gone to the ALS Association.  However, the ALSA has admitted that it gives some of its money to embryonic stem cell research and has no qualms about doing so in the future.  (Note the ALSA page linked in the above has just recently been changed, and now notes that embryonic stem cell research “has raised ethical concerns.”)

As Rebecca Taylor has pointed out, ALSA also has given money to an affiliate, NEALS, that has given money to a trial that uses stem cells derived from the spinal cord of an aborted fetus.

That trial is being run by the University of Michigan and Emory University, and sponsored by a company called Neuralstem which uses aborted fetus cells for research (“from the donated spinal cord tissue of an 8-week-old aborted fetus.”)  All of the Neuralstem trials use cells derived from abortion.

Project ALS, another charity for ALS research, also funds embryonic stem cell research.

 

But there are alternatives for donations that use only ethical stem cell sources!

Here are a few of my favorites.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center is only a year old, but is starting an increasing number of clinical trials and educational efforts.

One potential future trial would be using adult stem cells for ALS.  Dr. Rick Barohn, an internationally recognized expert on ALS, recently joined the Advisory Board for the Center.

The MSCTC does not do any embryonic or aborted fetal stem cell research, ONLY ADULT and NON-EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH and CLINICAL TRIALS.

HOW DO I DONATE?  click the “Make a Gift” link in the left column of their web page, it specifies donation for the MSCTC.

(Disclosure:  I am a member of the MSCTC advisory board)

 

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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are currently doing clinical trials for patients with ALS, using ADULT STEM CELLS.

Dr. Anthony Windebank and his team have one ongoing clinical trial for ALS patients and are ready to initiate a second clinical trial for ALS patients.

HOW DO I DONATE?  there is a “Give Now” link near the top of web page from Dr. Windebank’s link above; people can specify that their donation go to his ALS research team.

NOTE that the second trial is in association with an Israeli company, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics, that is developing the adult stem cell treatment for ALS and other neural conditions.  While this is still an experimental trial, the early results using adult stem cells for ALS treatment have been positive.

 

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The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City is doing research in several areas including ALS, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

HOW DO I DONATE?  use the button for “Donate Now” on their main web page

 

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(the following listing was updated Aug 22, 2014 to clarify the profile of this company)

The Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC is a for-profit company developing new methods for growth and application of adult stem cells, and does not support embryonic stem cell research.

Click “Contact Information” in the right column of their web page and e-mail the Director to learn more about the company’s adult stem cell technology development plans.

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Donate to ethical adult stem cell research!  Adult stem cells are helping patients now!

I loved that boy. I hated that deed:” Della Reese

by Robert Morrison

August 13, 2014

She was on a late night talk show in 1977. Actress Della Reese was being interviewed by Johnny Carson on NBC’s Tonight Show. I thought I was seeing a re-run because the host and Miss Reese were talking about the hit TV series, Chico and the Man.

This was shortly after the suicide of Freddie Prinze, the talented comedian who starred in the series. But, no, they came around to the subject. And Johnny, predictably, went on and on about the comic genius and the great tragic loss of Freddie Prinze. Della Reese spoke authoritatively and with finality. “I loved that boy, I hated that deed.” She would go on to become a familiar fixture in millions of American homes as “Tess,” the motherly figure in the popular series, Touched by an Angel.

I identified strongly with what this sensible woman said at the time. A few years later, I was tasked at the U.S. Department of Education with working on suicide among youth. As a project officer during the Reagan administration, it was my responsibility to study this troubling issue in American society. As part of my duties, I had a briefing book given to us by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.

That large binder included suicide rates for many ethnic and demographic groups in American society. At that time, I was familiar with the rates for various sub-groups, from Ashkenazi Jews to Zuni Indians.

When I thumbed through the binder, I noted that the suicide rate for Black women was exceedingly low. Almost zero. Could this be a misprint? I called CDC to check on the figures.

We’ve noticed that too,” said the desk officer in Atlanta, “we call it the BFPF.”

What’s that?” I pressed.

The Black Female Protective Factor — they’re very religious.”

Suicide experts going back to Emile Durkheim in the Nineteenth Century have noted the correlation between religiosity and suicide. Those who regularly worship have far lower suicide rates than the unchurched.

Those who join clubs and activities, too, are far less liable to take their own lives. So Volunteer Fire Departments, Rotary, scouting, 4-H, Anglers’ Clubs, etc., can be lifesavers as well.

In the Nineteenth Century, French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville studied American society and institutions. In his classic Democracy in America, Tocqueville wrote about Americans’ “genius for association.” We love to join clubs, it seems.

We cannot read of tragic suicides — like that of Robin Williams this week — without wondering why. One reason may just be the active efforts to suppress religion in America. How can it hurt to get rid of public prayer and open acknowledgment of God? Increased suicide rates is one way it hurts.

Let’s pray that Americans gain a greater understanding of the value to all of society of religious freedom. It used to be said: “The family that prays together stays together. “That was true in the 1950s. It’s true now. It might also be said: Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord.

The Ongoing Struggle vs. The End Game

by Family Research Council

July 31, 2014

Several years ago I read this letter on the Priests for Life website. It gives readers a chilling look at what the future might hold, Frighteningly, the contents of this letter are becoming reality more and more each day.

The letter is from a young woman to her mother, wanting to share some difficult news in a tactful manner. While trying to soften the blow of her news, she mentions her busy life and her husband’s much-needed job promotion before sharing her true reason for writing: telling her mom that she will be euthanatizing her son. It’s not that he’s a bad kid. It’s just that his life is an unfair burden. When reading this warning, I hoped that that was a future scenario never to come.  It is eerie to see how this letter foreshadowed exactly what is happening today in Europe.

In February, Belgium voted to legalize child euthanasia for children of all ages. It doesn’t matter if little Jenny is 5 or 15. Parents now have the right to kill their own children. While the law does state that minors must “be in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short term,” if we are honest with ourselves, we know that this “stipulation” is elastic to the point that it willbe bent and stretched over time

It’s not only little ones who continue to be targeted by the Culture of Death. Rimante Šalaševiciute, the new prime minister of Lithuania, feels that euthanasia should be a viable option for the poor. Recently, she told local media that “euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the spectacle of their suffering.” This new attack on life, as ludicrous as it sounds, should not take us by surprise. First we were told that life within the womb really isn’t life at all. Then we are told that young life, be it sick or troubled, is worthy of death. Now we are told that caring for loved ones less privileged than ourselves is “torment.”

I think we have learned by now that the battling the Culture of Death is an ongoing struggle. It is a Culture led by “a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  However, unlike most battles in life, we know the end of the story. The Author of Life is on our side, and because of that, Death will never win.


When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54

You Were a One-Celled Wonder Once

by Arina Grossu

July 17, 2014

Today my colleague Dr. Prentice who is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council and Dr. Andy Harris (R-MD) whohas sponsored the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2012 and has been an active voice in bioethics discussions on Capitol Hill presented a lecture on human cloning.

In the FRC lecture, Dr. Prentice discussed the scientific process of cloning and its prevalence, the current studies and results available, timeline of human cloning, its ethics (or lack thereof), and legislative proposals to ban human cloning.

In the question and answer session with Dr. Harris, what struck me the most was his description of the genetically complete human being at all stages of development and why cloning is wrong:

[People make a] distinction between reproductive cloning and non-reproductive [cloning]…Taking the same technique and doing exactly the same way— the only difference is whether you kill the embryo at a certain number of days or not, [as if it] somehow makes it legitimate to have created the embryo. How’s that again? We have to challenge people [who] say, “Well, it’s not for reproduction.” Well what part of cloning is wrong: is it just if you give birth to a clone or you create the clone? … I hope all of you are aware- one cell, you’re exactly the same as you are now, except you’re a lot bigger. Your genetics is exactly the same; you just have a whole lot more cells. But you have a whole lot more cells than when you were a one year old too, and that doesn’t mean [as] a one year old you were not a human being or you were not entitled to protection.”

What a wonder, that when we were one cell, our genetics were exactly the same as today! Were we any less human at one year old than now? No. Were we any less human as a one-celled human than we are now? No. It is mysterious and miraculous that we are the same genetically complete human beings at one cell development as we are as full-fledged adults.

We must do what we can to pass the Human Cloning Prohibition Act and similar measures to defend the littlest of humans, even one-celled humans, from the destructive and careless forces of scientists and laboratories that do not revere and protect the sanctity of all human life

Blumenthal Pro-Abortion Bill: Going Backward at Full Steam

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 15, 2014

Various Supreme Court rulings have said that limitations can be placed on access to abortion in the states.

Over the past few years, especially, states have taken the Court up on their offers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, so far in 2014 13 “states have adopted 21 new restrictions designed to limit access to abortion.” Since the beginning of 2011, no less than 226 measures hemming-in elective abortion have been enacted at the state level.

Most of the new laws relate to things the majority of Americans agree are necessary: Sanitary and other health regulations for abortion clinics; requiring that abortion doctors have access to hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics in case of a medical emergency during an abortion; parental notification (note: that’s notification, not consent); requiring that women be shown ultra-sound images of their unborn children prior to having an abortion; bills that prevent abortion once a heartbeat is detected or once we know an unborn child can feel pain.

There is nothing radical about these measures. They better ensure safety for women and provide them with solid medical information concerning what an abortion really is. And they affirm the dignity of the unborn child, among other things recognizing that dismemberment without anesthesia is barbarity.

Now, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wants to stop the progress, turning the clock back on common-sense protections for women and their unborn children. His “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013” (S.1696) — an Orwellian title if ever there was one — would in a single scythe-like sweep eliminate hundreds of protections for women and their unborn babies. As Thomas Messner, legal policy fellow at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, says, the Blumenthal measure “would make it harder when not impossible for states to enforce measures that protect women as well as unborn children. In provision after provision S. 1696 puts not a thumb but a fist on the scales in favor of abortion providers and against both unborn children and mothers who face the fear and uncertainty of unexpected pregnancy.”

Increasing abortion and destroying humane safeguards for the unborn are retrograde actions. They pull our culture back toward a darker era when human life was considered cheap and the powerful exploited the weak. Sen. Blumenthal’s march backward is also a march into darkness. Those claiming to be children of the Light should fight it.

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