Category archives: Life & Bioethics

What’s Up, Doc?

by Tony Perkins

March 21, 2007

As the Senate weighs a bill forcing taxpayers to pay for research that requires the killing of human embryos, one of the president’s top scientists suddenly jumped ship on the administration’s policy in order to support the legislation. With a vote just weeks away, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), raised eyebrows with the timing of his endorsement, particularly since he has defended the administration’s stance in the past. To the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, Zerhouni said, “It is clear today that American science will be better-served, and the nation will be better-served, if we let our scientists have access to more stem cell lines… I think it is important for us not to fight with one hand tied behind out back, and NIH is key to that.”

However, in his bold pitch for taxpayer money, Zerhouni neglected to justify the need for more embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines. Have there been so many advances with the 22 current lines that scientists can legitimize new ones? If Zerhouni is requesting taxpayer money from the Senate—in addition to the $40 million NIH spent last year on the project—then the least he could do is provide a record of ESC research advances and a detailed list of what cannot be done without new lines.

The reality is, 85% of the world’s embryonic studies use President Bush’s approved lines, and the NIH is waiting to distribute 3,000 shipments of cells derived from them. In the past, Zerhouni has said these lines are sufficient. What’s changed? Dr. Zerhouni also downplayed the promise of adult stem cells, saying that their potential is “overstated.” As the nation’s top scientist, Zerhouni should know that patients are using adult stem cell alternatives to treat over 70 diseases. We have personally met patients who are reaping the benefits of adult stem cells in therapies for sickle cell anemia, heart disease, leukemia and other diseases. That is progress, not speculation.

Evangelical Bioethics and the Web

by Jared Bridges

March 19, 2007

In case you missed it, Joe Carter, FRC’s Director of Web Communications (and managing editor of this blog), was profiled over the weekend in the Washington Post in an article entitled “Evangelical Bioethics and the Web” by WP religion reporter Michelle Boorstein. It’s a good look not only at Joe, but also on how the internet can be a forum for the some of the most important bioethical issues facing us today.

Go read it now.

Switching Sides On Sudden Death

by Tony Perkins

March 19, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

In the assisted suicide debate, pro-lifers are grieving the loss of a big ally. Last week, the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine released a statement on euthanasia that pro-lifers are calling a grave mistake. After years of opposing doctor-assisted suicide, the association announced that from now on, itll be neutral on the issue. For a group that was founded to promote dying with dignity, the announcement runs counter to everything they stand for. After all, doctors shouldnt be licensed to kill, but to cure. Some are calling the new policy cowardly, especially since it gives members the permission to practice euthanasia without punishing them for it. If the group was founded to respect life, they should respect it to the very end. Otherwise, its a slippery slope for a community called to do no harm. In the end, hospice was created to help end painnot lives. And as the association should know, a persons last rights should include life.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

California Stem Cell Programs Told To Watch Their Waste Line

by Tony Perkins

March 13, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

If youre a supporter of embryonic stem cell research, I can think of three billion reasons why you should reconsider. And theyre called taxpayer dollars. In California, state auditors are discovering that scientists are more concerned about the royal treatment than finding treatments. A new report says the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is wasting thousands of dollars on perks. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the agency thats responsible for $3 billion in research grants overspent on hired drivers, expensive plane tickets, and catered meals. The audit also found mistakes and inconsistencies in setting salaries. Unfortunately, Californians are getting what they paid forand in this case, thats not much. Despite the big push for fundsin Congress and the statesthis report raises some serious questions. After all, if we cant trust scientists with our money, why should we trust them with a cure?

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

Wrongful Life: A Worst ‘Case’ Scenario

by Tony Perkins

March 9, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

A Boston woman has decided that she doesnt want to raise children, she wants to raise support. In 2004, she had an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Or so she thought. The procedure wasnt done correctly and, unbeknownst to Jennifer, she was still pregnant. When she went to a hospital with pelvic pain, they realized she was still carrying the baby. Now shes suing Planned Parenthood for wrongful birth. Essentially, this moms saying that because she never wanted the baby, she should be paid for raising her. But why not put the child up for adoption instead of dragging the little girl through all this? Jennifers seeking damages for her daughters birthbut what about the damage shes doing to the little girl who hears over and over again that she should have never been born? Life is a gift, and the law should promote life and the court should protect itnot reward those who want to destroy it.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

CREW Rails On Pro-Life Metro Ads

by Tony Perkins

March 7, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

When it comes to advertising on the D.C. metro, pro-lifers are in for a bumpy ride. This month, the Conference of Catholic Bishops bought ad space on the subway to educate people about abortion. The posters tell riders that the human heart starts beating at 22 daysbut explains that Roe v. Wade says a doctor can stop it for the next 244. Now a group thats funded by George Soros, CREW, is doing its best to derail the campaign. Theyve asked the Transit Authority to investigate, saying the ads are false and misleading. But if its truth in advertising they want, why not target Planned Parenthood or the Human Rights Campaign? Those groups have used metro space for years to promote something that doesnt even exist outside of marriagesafe sex. As the Supreme Court considers the partial-birth abortion case, the Catholic Bishops are trying to be an engine for change. And as far as Im concerned, theyre on the right track.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

Planned Parenthood Wireless: Cell-ing Out Women

by Tony Perkins

March 5, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

Planned Parenthood is working the phones, all right. As part of the groups desperate push for money, theyve introduced a new service: Planned Parenthood Wireless. This cell phone coverage would donate 10% of the monthly charges to the biggest abortion provider in America. Their email says that proceeds would help give women medically accurate information. But if people believe that, what they need isnt a cell phone service, but a wake up call! Planned Parenthood has always cared more about protecting its profits than protecting women. Maybe thats why the country is more skeptical about giving them money. A Zogby poll found that 68% of voters think that federal funds shouldnt go toward abortionand that includes money funneled to groups like Planned Parenthood. No wonder theyre looking for a better reception from cell phone users. Obviously, they dont get the message that the country has serious concerns about their motives. But as support keeps dropping, Americans will be sayingas the commercial goescan you hear us now?

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. To subscribe to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

U.K. Pro-Lifers Take Baby Steps in Legislature

by Tony Perkins

March 1, 2007

The miraculous story of little Amillia Taylor, who is said to be the youngest surviving premature baby, has prompted Britain to reconsider its abortion policies. As it stands, the U.K. allows women to abort through the 24th week of pregnancy. Until recently, experts argued that unborn children could not survive outside the womb before that period, a theory that Amillia’s existence has completely discredited.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries has sponsored bills in the past that would impose a tighter limit on late-term abortions. In light of the Taylors’ story, Dorries intends to reintroduce legislation that would make abortions illegal after 21 weeks. As one doctor said, “To me it seems utterly illogical that one doctor is struggling to save a baby delivered at 23 weeks while another is aborting a healthy baby of the same age.”

Abortion as a Moral Good?

by Family Research Council

February 28, 2007

Amanda Marcotte, the blogger who worked for John Edwards campaign before she fell victim to the “right wing noise machine”, has an interesting take on abortion:

To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion, shes not indulging some guilty pleasure, like sneaking in a round of adultery at lunch, to bring up a genuinely immoral action that should not be criminal. She is probably thinking about her familys well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called selfish by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female. In fact, especially if you are female, since you live in a world where having self-esteem can be an act of moral courage that requires some defiance. If I got pregnant, I wouldnt even have to suffer much mental strain to realize that abortion would be the best choice for myself, my family, and my relationship. Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.

In fairness, most abortion advocates are not as morally deranged as Marcotte. Some even consider abortion to be “morally questionable”, a position Marcotte claims is a “huge insult”:

Updated to add: Also, saying that abortion is morally questionable, even if youre pro-choice, is a huge insult to the brave men and women who risk life and limb to perform them. Being an abortion doctor is a pretty thankless task, because a bunch of Christian men who have emasculation issues are gunning to kill you in hopes that brings their huevos back.

John Edwards must be thanking his lucky stars that this left-wing extremist quit before such nutty statements completely destroyed his campaign. (HT: Mirror of Justice)

An Unborn Plaintiff?

by Jared Bridges

February 27, 2007

The penultimate question with regard to issues of life is “what does it mean to be human?” Courts have effectively sidestepped that question in cases like Roe v. Wade, opting to address questions of privacy instead.

However, courts can’t forever avoid the issue, and a court in Brooklyn, New York has decided that a 7-year-old girl has the right to sue the city for injuries she received when she was still in the womb:

Sarah Elizabeth Leighton was only a 14-week-old fetus when a toilet at a Brooklyn public school collapsed, injuring her schoolteacher mom.

The fall in January 1999 ruptured Esther Portalatin-Leighton’s placenta, and Sarah was born prematurely, less than four months later, the family contends.


Sarah’s learning disabilities and asthmatic symptoms are the direct result of her early birth, which was caused by the ruptured placenta, her parents argue.

City lawyers tried to get the case dismissed before trial by arguing that the child had to have been able to survive outside the womb at the time the injuries occurred in order for her to recover damages.

Well, Sarah has survived outside the womb, and she can now claim the injuries sustained when she was a 14-week old fetus. Whatever the merits of the case, the fact that court now recognizes “fetus Sarah” as the “girl Sarah” is a step toward justice.

The court, of course, made sure not to draw parity with abortion issues:

Abortion cases are genuinely distinguishable from the [Leighton] case since fetuses which are aborted are not born alive,” Brooklyn Appeals Court Justice Gloria Goldstein wrote.

However, the panel did offer conception as a line of demarcation, saying that “as long as the injuries occurred after conception and the child was born alive, she could make a claim.” It almost sounds absurd (after all, what injuries can one sustain before conception?), but it does lend considerable recognition to the notion that personhood begins at conception.