July 12th, 2010 by Bethany French

Last month a couple was arrested in California for attempting to sell their six-month-old baby to two women for $25, according to a statement released by police.  Both parents are being charged with child endangerment as well as drug-related charges.  Thirty-eight-year-old Patrick Fousek’s fellow inmates took justice into their own hands, attacking him after they learned his story through the news:

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Richards said inmates in the open dorm where Fousek had been housed jumped him at 10:15p.m. after the details of his charges were reported on television news.

Richards said Fousek was transported to Natividad Medical Center, where he was treated for multiple injuries to his face, and two cracked ribs before being returned to the jail.

Seated apart from other inmates in the courtroom Friday, Fousek’s right eye was bruised and badly swollen. He had a cut on the bridge of his nose and stitches in his lip.

This attempt to sell an infant to strangers, presumably for drug-related reasons, has sparked much outrage and disbelief across the country, and rightly so. This story has even attracted international attention, as well it might.  As unbelievable and reprehensible as most people find a crime like this, there is an equally dark and sinister crime taking place under our culture’s pursuit of everlasting beauty:  the trafficking of human fetal remains to be used in pharmaceutical products, as well as expensive and non-regulated anti-aging creams.

A study conducted by Vicki Evans tracked the financial roots and threads of the abortion industry into the marketplace:

In her study, Evans looked to discover how certain “special interests” or a “commercial cause” – rather than the graying adherents of feminist ideology that first clamored for legal abortion – was at work to keep abortion legal, and the transactions in aborted fetal material largely unmolested by regulators in a virtually clandestine market.

“It is important to shine a light on these practices that take place behind closed doors,” wrote Evans. “There are powerful forces conspiring to keep this information from the public and the media with the ostensible conviction that they are protecting a woman’s right to choose.

“However, it is becoming obvious that many ideological groups are being used as pawns by powerful financial interests.”

Exploiting the lives of the unborn is wrong for EVERY reason, but how low has the moral fiber of our nation sunk when the reason becomes vanity?  Here are some excerpts from Evans’ study:

The genesis of using fetal tissue for cosmetic purposes arose out of its successful clinical use in burn victims… After years of research, physicians discovered that fetal skin has a unique ability to heal wounds without scarring…

From the above-referenced fetal skin biopsy, the University Hospital of Lausanne research team went on to establish a dedicated cell bank for developing a cream designed to reduce signs of aging and improve skin texture and the appearance of wrinkles… The active ingredient,  trademarked by Neocutis S.A. as Processed Skin Care Proteins or PSP, is a combination of human growth factors and cytokines (intercellular messengers)…

“The boomers are commanding attention with their voices and their wallets as they will be the primary contributors to the projected $12 billion increase in money spent on anti-aging products and supplements in the next year and a half alone…The anti-aging market is presently a $30 billion market. In the next three years, it is expected to grow to $70 billion… This is the fastest growing market in the U.S.”130

At the “low” end, miracle claims are made for creams, serums and emulsions developed
with fibroblasts and human growth factors; i.e.; fetal cell technologies. Most are produced in the
U.S. and none of their claims have been evaluated by the FDA. All are unproven as to efficacy.
One product, Amatokin, produced by Voss Laboratories, costs $190 for 30 milliliters or one
ounce. A direct competitor, ReVive Skincare‟s Peau Magnifique, retails for $1,500 for four one-
milliliter ampoules… The products are expensive because they are not mass produced and have a very limited shelf life.
At the “high” end, exclusive clinics in various worldwide tourist locations are offering
face lifts and cosmetic procedures using tissues from aborted fetuses and stem cells from human
embryos. The cells are said to rejuvenate the skin…133

Until recently, the raw materials for producing these liquefied fetal serums for injection were imported to Barbados from the Ukraine. “Women were paid $200-$300 (three months salary) to carry their pregnancies to a very late stage and then deliver the babies alive in a kind of forced premature birth. The procedure allows the living baby’s organs to be harvested while they are still as fresh as possible.”135

Unthinkable?  Yes.  Are these things still happening?  Yes.  How long will it be until Walmart really is selling babies for profit, in the form of anti-aging creams, without so much as a slap on the wrist?  Convicted criminals know selling children is wrong!  Let us raise our voices on their behalf and go to our knees before God to see Him intervene with justice for the unborn!

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March 18th, 2009 by Bethany French

The debate over embryonic stem-cell research is at the forefront of many people’s minds with President Obama’s recent decision to overturn former President Bush’s restrictions on its federal funding.  There are some basic questions that must be asked in the course of this debate about the creation of extra embryos, and what other options exist for parents outside of destroying these embryos either by stem-cell research or by what amounts to throwing them away in the trash.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study in which they sent questionnaires to 341 fertility clinics in the United States which asked questions regarding their methods and policies on embryo disposal.  Here is an excerpt including a summary of their findings:

217 of 341 clinics (64 percent) responded. Nearly all (97 percent) were willing to create and cryopreserve extra embryos. Fewer, but still a majority (59 percent), were explicitly willing to avoid creating extras. When embryos did remain in excess, clinics offered various options: continual cryopreservation for a charge (96 percent) or for no charge (4 percent), donation for reproductive use by other couples (76 percent), disposal prior to (60 percent) or following (54 percent) cryopreservation, and donation for research (60percent) or embryologist training (19 percent). Qualifications varied widely among those personnel responsible for securing couples’ consent for disposal and for conducting disposal itself. Some clinics performed a religious or quasi-religious disposal ceremony. Some clinics required a couple’s participation in disposal; some allowed but did not require it; some others discouraged or disallowed it.  (Emphasis added.)

It is worth noting that most people who argue for embryonic stem-cell research will present as a fact that since “leftover” embryos are just going to be thrown away anyway, why should we “waste” them when they could be helping to advance science and save lives? However, they neglect to mention the option made available by over 75% of fertility clinics for the adoption of these embryos by other couples who are unable to bear children, with organizations entirely devoted to this process.  Furthermore, the majority of fertility clinics are willing to avoid creating more embryos than the parents would have implanted, if requested to do so by the parents, so there is not necessarily a need for any unused embryos to even exist.  What are the actual feelings of the parents who have used IVF to become pregnant toward their leftover embryos?  These parents are faced with the difficult choice of what to do with the extra embryos created by the fertility clinics, often due to the lack of information they were given before the IVF process began.

According to research done by Anne Lyerly, parents care deeply about what happens to their embryos after they are created, and the decisions thrust upon them are heartwrenching.  “Perhaps half a million embryos lie frozen in U.S. clinics, and many are likely to continue to do so because fertility patients feel they don’t have satisfactory options for dealing with embryos left over from their treatment, research out today suggests,” says Lyerly.  The research found that “Among patients who wanted no more children, 53 percent did not want to donate their embryos to other couples, mostly because they did not want someone else bringing up their children.”  (Emphasis added.)

One fertility doctor has this to say about why many parents don’t wish to donate their embryos:

“It’s partly reflected in the attitude of the clinics,” he said, explaining that he does not even suggest that people give embryos to other couples anymore, whereas 10 years ago many patients did donate.

The excruciating decision parents have to face after undergoing IVF is often the result of the failure of clinics to broach the subject of dealing with their leftover embryos beforehand, and inform them of the options that will be available to them.  According to this survey, many parents feel that they SHOULD donate their embryos to research as a way of not letting them die meaninglessly, but one mother who donated her extra embryos to research had this to say: “Ms. Betancourt said she wished there had been more discussion about the extra embryos early in the process. If she had known more, she said, she might have considered creating fewer embryos in the first place.”

Lyerly’s conclusion after her research (as reported by the New York Times) was this:

The message from the survey is that patients need more information, earlier in the in vitro process, to let them know that frozen embryos may result and that deciding what to do with them in the future “may be difficult in ways you don’t anticipate,” said Dr. Anne Drapkin Lyerly, the first author of the study and a bioethicist and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University…

Many couples are so desperate to have a child that when eggs are fertilized in the clinic, they want to create as many embryos as possible, to maximize their chances, Dr. Lyerly said. At that time, the notion that there could be too many embryos may seem unimaginable.

Even though it is important to see that many parents of these embryos consider them special and human, the ethics involved should be beyond individual decision.  Robert George, a professor at Princeton University, has this to say about how leftover embryos should be treated:

The principle… is one that says all human beings, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, possess the same human dignity, because human dignity is inherent… [They] should be treated respectfully, the way we treat the remains of human beings at later stages of development…buried or burned… This is a decision that we as a community have to make. It can’t be left to individual choice to decide… It’s certainly not a religious decision anymore than infanticide is a religious decision… You can find ancient cultures whose religions authorized infanticide. But that didn’t make it right. And that doesn’t mean that we should accept it.

In Italy, parents are not forced to make an excruciating ethical decision, because there is a law that forbids fertility clinics from creating more than 3 embryos, and all the embryos created must be implanted in the mother’s uterus.  A bill was recently introduced in the state of Georgia with the goal of creating these same limitations on the number of embryos that can be created by fertility clinics and implanted in the mother.  Though that particular goal was not realized, the bill still “importantly defines embryos outside the uterus as human beings, so court disputes must be decided in the best interest of the embryo, not either parent fighting over the embryo.”

Consider this quote from “Beginning Life,” by Geraldine Lux Flanagan:  “In the hours of conception every aspect of the genetic inheritance for a new individual will be determined once and for all: to be a boy or girl, with brown, or with blue eyes, fair or dark, tall or short; all the rich detail of physical attributes from head to toes…”  These youngest among us have no voices to speak for them.  Will we then speak on their behalf, or be silent?

Posted in Law & Politics, News Tagged with: , , , , ,

March 9th, 2009 by Bethany French

President Obama has overturned the restrictions on the federal funding of stem-cell research that were set in place by the Bush administration in August 2001, when President Bush limited funding because of “fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science.”

President Obama showed his lack of concern for these “fundamental questions” when he made these statements:

Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values…

It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology…

Promoting science ‘is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient.’

Restrictions from the Bush administration on stem cell research allowed scientists to work with stem cells which were not obtained through the exploitation or destruction of human embryos.  Those restrictions are now lifted:

“The president is, in effect, allowing federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to the extent that it’s permitted by law — that is, work with stem cells themselves, not the derivation of stem cells,” Varmus said in a conference call with reporters Sunday.

While conceding that “the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown” and “should not be overstated,” Obama nevertheless expressed hope that the order will help spur faster progress in the search for cures to afflictions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer and spinal cord injuries…

Researchers highly value embryonic stem cells because of their potential to turn into any organ or tissue cell in the body. Stem cells have this ability for a short time. A few days before the embryo would implant in the uterus, it starts to develop into specific cells that will turn into skin or eyes or other parts of a developing fetus.

When the embryo is 4 or 5 days old, scientists extract the stem cells and put them in a petri dish. With the removal of these stem cells — of which there may be about 30 — the embryo is destroyed.

Several polls from different sources indicate that the majority of Americans were in favor of these restrictions being lifted.  Scientists are hoping to use stem cell research to eventually develop treatments for people with diabetes, cancer, spinal injuries, and many more debilitating conditions, which garners support from many Americans.  However, the ethics involved in embryonic stem cell research are questionable.  Some opponents of the bill have this to say about stem cell research:

“Advancements in science and research have moved faster than the debates among politicians in Washington, D.C., and breakthroughs announced in recent years confirm the full potential of stem cell research can be realized without the destruction of living human embryos,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said the Bush policy imposed proper ethical limits on science.

“My basic tenet here is I don’t think we should create life to enhance life and to do research and so forth,” Shelby said Sunday. “I know that people argue there are other ways. I think we should continue our biomedical research everywhere we can, but we should have some ethics about it.”

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America [says this]: “President Obama’s order places the worst kind of politics above ethics. Politics driven by hype makes overblown promises, fuels the desperation of the suffering and financially benefits those seeking to strip morality from science.”

President Obama set his “ethical limits” at using stem cells for human cloning.  Such cloning, he said, “is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society.”  One might ask, since he has made such clear statements about science not being limited by ideology, why he sets the limits at human cloning as wrong and dangerous?  Once the value of human life has been removed and disregarded for the sake of “scientific progress,” why couldn’t the same argument he is making for “science” eventually be used for what many now consider unethical boundaries?

Scientists in Nazi Germany performed many experiments on Jews in concentration camps in the name of advancing “science,” some of the results of which have been banned from being used or taught in the medical community, because of the unethical way in which they were performed.  Yet many of their “experiments” were in order to find treatments and cures for diseases, which is the same argument being used for the justification of embryonic stem cell research.  The Nazi ideology had so far dehumanized the Jewish people in the German culture that these horrific experiments were allowed and encouraged.

How far have we fallen as a culture, when the majority of Americans (according to some polls) no longer consider these helpless embryos as human, and their lives can be taken simply to bring possible benefits to those who are stronger and have voices that can be heard?

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