Sadly, a child died after miraculously surviving an abortion attempt in Italy. Two days after the baby boy was aborted he was found to be breathing. A priest, who had gone to pray next to the body of the baby, was shocked to find him breathing and immediately called on the doctors to help. It appears that the medical professionals had left the boy to die on his own after the abortion failed. He ultimately did die.
The United States has a law protecting children who survive abortion attempts, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-207). The law establishes that any child who is born alive (is breathing, the umbilical cord is pulsating, has muscle movement, or a beating heart) after an abortion attempt is considered a person and needs to be treated accordingly. An enlightening aside to this story is that then-State Senator Obama voted against allowing the abortion survivors to live. In his words, “What we are doing here is to create one more burden on women, and I can’t support that.”
An article in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association provides a global perspective on adult stem cell transplants. In particular, the researchers wanted to know how many transplants were taking place in different parts of the world. This particular study looked only at hematopoietic stem cell transplants, i.e., transplants of blood-forming cells, obtained from bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood; it did not survey uses of other adult stem cell types, such as mesenchymal, adipose-derived, or nasal adult stem cells. Their survey found that worldwide in 2006 a total of 50,417 transplants were performed using these adult stem cells. Of that total, 57% used the patient’s own adult stem cells, and 43% used donor adult stem cells. Almost half (48%) took place in Europe, followed by the Americas (36%), Asia (14%), and the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa (2%). They note that adult stem cell transplants have become “the standard of care for many patients” with blood disorders and malignancies, though they are starting to be used for other conditions including autoimmune disorders and heart disease. They also note that their study “demonstrates that it is an accepted therapy worldwide”.
Todays Washington Times has a fascinating article addressing a topic I have wondered about for years: that is, why dont we fight poppy growers (Afghanistan) and coca growers (Columbia) with hi-tech chemicals targeted at those plants? Well, this article by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Aylana Meisel Turning the Battle Against Drugs: Herbicide Breakthrough Could End Poppy and Coca Crops contains interesting information about governmental efforts to fight narco-trafficking with bio-technology. (The authors also strongly argue for development aid to find replacement crops for poppy and coca cultivation.)
Here are several key paragraphs:
To seriously curtail the Afghan insurgency and global narcoterrorism, the U.S. must use effective eradication methods while subsidizing the cultivation of alternative crops. Most important, successful eradication of the Afghan drug trade will expedite the safe withdrawal of nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The U.S. must complete research on mycoherbicides - specialized bioherbicide agents designed to inoculate the soil against the growth of certain plants, ensuring that the targeted plants cannot be cultivated.
In January 2003, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released the Research and Development of an Environmentally Safe and Reliable Biological Control Agent for Opium Poppy Summary Report. The research indicated that mycoherbicides do not have adverse health or environmental effects. They also are target-specific - they have no effects on plants they are not engineered to affect. Congress mandated further study on mycoherbicides in 2006, but the Office of National Drug Control Policy only contracted with the National Research Council to commence research in 2009 on the impacts of mycoherbicides and the feasibility of producing and implementing their use on a wide scale.
It is interesting that the U.S. agency tasked with studying this approach to fighting drug-trafficking took 3 years to get further research under way. That sounds like a typical bureaucratic attempt to kill a program or concept. Delay, delay, delay. Wait until a new administration comes into office; then let the initiative die. Hopefully, the Office of National Drug Control Policy hasnt acted dishonorably with regard to Congresss intentions in this matter.
The authors conclude, The dual mycoherbicide-alternative development approach would reduce the worlds supply of heroin and cocaine, severing the financial lifelines of terrorist organizations. They urge President Obama to make the completion of congressionally-mandated study a priority because [i]t could help the United States win the battle against the Taliban while seriously striking terrorist and criminal organizations the world over. I agree and time is of the essence.
British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking believes that extraterrestrial life exists, but feels it may be dangerous for us to contact them or let them know we are here.
“I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach. It would be ‘too risky’ to attempt to make contact with alien races. If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didnt turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
Maybe Prof. Hawking has recently seen the 1996 movie “Independence Day“. In that story, alien nomads arrive in a huge mothership (about a quarter the mass of the moon) and begin an attack to conquer the Earth for its resources.
Of course, it may be too late about that aspect of keeping quiet and not letting anyone know we’re here…
Is that what they mean by “Earth day”? Probably not. Anyway, it could stimulate your immune system and possibly help prevent allergies. Not that actually consuming some earth is a possible key, but recently there was another report out that exposure to a little dirtiness, and some common microbes, could boost the developing immune system and potentially prevent at least some allergies and autoimmune problems.
Excessive cleanliness is to blame according to Dr. Guy Delespesse, a professor at the Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Delespesse thinks that “The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.” This has generally become known as the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. Although hygiene does reduce our exposure to harmful bacteria it also limits our exposure to beneficial microorganisms. Previously, German researchers at University Childrens Hospital in Munich found that mothers exposed to farms, particularly to barns and farm milk, while pregnant confer protection from allergies on their newborns. The exposure apparently affects the babys T regulatory cells, which act to suppress immune responses and thereby maintain immune system balance. Other studies have suggested that not only too much cleanliness, but also exposure to cleaning products, could have an affect.
The culprit is more likely not exposure to common dirt, but exposure to common microbes. Hygiene is good, and in order to avoid people getting the wrong idea, some have proposed calling this the “microbial exposure hypothesis”. The concept is that we need a little exposure to the usual bugs encountered in the environment, to train our immune systems. Researchers at Northwestern University suggested easing up on antibacterial soap and perhaps allowing children to get a little dirty, to acquaint them with everyday germs. They noted that we may be depriving developing immune networks of important environmental input needed to guide their function throughout childhood and into adulthood.
So go get a little dirty, and help your immune system.
The Vatican is putting its money where its belief is, and will be putting an initial 2 million ($2.7 million) to support an International Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium. The group includes the University of Maryland, Istituto Superiore di Sanita (Italys version of the National Institutes of Health), University of Salerno and Bambino Gesu, the Vaticans childrens hospital. Dr. Alessio Fasano, a University of Maryland professor of pediatrics, medicine and physiology, who is from Italy, is coordinating the consortium.
According to Fasano:
“We are trying to explore stem cell research aside from embryonic stem cells. Is there a better way?”
Fasano believes that using adult stem cells, from the intestines of the patients themselves, could be that “better way.” He notes that intestinal adult stem cells are easily harvested from the patient’s own supply with a simple procedure and so are readily available, and have an additional advantage in that they will not be rejected by the body because they are the patient’s own adult stem cells.
Father Bob Gahl of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross noted:
“Nobody should be killed in the process of doing medical research. So this new project falls exactly within the Catholic Church’s ethical guidelines.”
The Vatican has previously sponsored two international conferences on adult stem cells. In addition, the Catholic Church in South Korea and Australia has funded adult stem cell research.
Meanwhile, embryonic stem cell scientists repeated the long-disproven old dogma that adult stem cells could only become the type of tissue in which they are found and could not treat problems with other different tissues, while grudgingly acknowledging that adult stem cells have actually already shown their utility for disease treatments. George Daley of Boston Children’s Hospital said
“I applaud the Vatican for being interested in supporting biomedical research, but I can’t help but think there’s an agenda.”
The front page of this morning’s USA Today features articles on two very different men, both of them champions of the gridiron: Tim Tebow, the devout Evangelical Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida,and Ben Roethlisberger, pro quarterback for the Pittsburg Steelers.
Roethlisberger, suspended for six games by the NFL for credible allegations of sexual assault against a 20 year-old woman in Milledgeville, Georgia, received a letter from League Commissioner Roger Goodell stating that “there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”
In contrast, USA Today notes that Tebow’s Christian faith has motivated him to travel “to impoverished hamlets, prisons and hospitals around the world.” Tebow’s unapologetic commitment to the sanctity of unborn life became widely known when, during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, he was featured in an ad with his mother. As USA Today reports, “Pregnant with Tim in the Phillippines (where the Tebows were missionaries), his mother became ill, suffering internal bleeding … Doctors, fearing for her life, recommended an abortion. She decided to have the baby.” Now that baby has been selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
Tebow makes no pretension of moral perfection, but his dedication to living a life of integrity, purity and conviction, all on behalf of his Savior, is a striking reminder that Christian witness and servanthood can inspire and encourage.
As to Mr. Roethlisberger, we can pray that he will, in the words of the prophet Haggai, consider his ways. The way Mr. Tebow is following - the Way, in fact - is worth emulating.
Last night, Virginia had a major pro-life victory, passing a budget amendment that will limit abortion funding to extreme cases such as those covered by the federal Hyde Amendment (rape, incest or life of mother). Until now Virginia taxpayers also paid for abortions in cases of fetal abnormality and other instances.
Congratulations, and thank you to Governor McDonnell for introducing this amendment, to Virginia legislators who voted to accept it, and to Virginia residents who contacted your representatives and asked them to protect life in Virginia.