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Pro-abort McClendon Amendment Redefines “Child”

McClendan Amendment July1 2013 to HB2

. . .as someone whose mother chose not to abort him!

Democrat Ruth McClendon, from District 120 of San Antonio, proposed an Amendment to HB 2 today that she thinks is necessary, “if we’re not going to allow women to control their own bodies.” The Amendment would re-define “child” as one,

B. whose mother declares in writing in accordance with rules adopted by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, that, because of Section 245.010 (a), Health and Safety Code, or Subchapters C and D, Chapter 171, Health and Safety Code, the mother chose not to or did not have access to a facility to exercise her right to an abortion at the time the child was born.

Isn’t it obvious that the mother of each and every born child chose not to abort them? Whether or not there’s a “constitutional right?”

And, please, “at the time the child was born?” Does that mean the mother chose not to abort at birth or that she made the declaration at the time of birth?

Representative Kenneth Sheets, Republican from the Dallas-area District 107, explained that his family is going through adoption and that he knows that the same benefits are available to his family and to everyone.

 

Planned Parenthood, big abortion and the battle to save lives in Texas | Fox News

[R]emind me again why pro-abortion activists want healthy five-month pregnant women to abort their healthy child in dirty, unsafe abortion clinics?

via Planned Parenthood, big abortion and the battle to save lives in Texas | Fox News.

Action Alert! Correct False Testimony by the Texas Hospital Association Representative

This is a rare Action Alert: Contact the Texas Hospital Association (phone number, 512-465-1000) about the completely false testimony of their representative, Ms. Stacy Wilson who testified against Section 2 of House Bill 2 before the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

You can see Ms. Wilson’s testimony on the July 2, 2013 video of the House State Affairs Committee, available at the House video site beginning at 2:02/8:38.

Ms. Wilson testified as the Associate Counsel for the Texas Hospital Association, against Section 2 of HB 2. That section requires the physicians who perform elective abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the place where he or she does the abortions. Section 4 of the Bill, against which Ms. Wilson did not testify, requires abortion facilities to meet the same standards as State-regulated Ambulatory Surgical Centers.
Ms. Wilson falsely argued that hospitals would not grant admitting privileges to doctors who perform elective abortions outside the hospital because the hospital wouldn’t allow elective hospitals within the hospital: “If you have a physician that is only practicing in a clinic . . . the hospital is unlikely to give privileges.”

Ms. Wilson is apparently unaware that the reason a doctor would have admitting privileges would be to treat complications of the abortion, including hemorrhage, uterine and bowel perforations, and infections after the abortion. There is no reason to claim that the purpose of those privileges would be to allow performing the abortion itself within the hospital walls.

Ms. Wilson repeatedly said that she doesn’t know whether any Texas doctors who perform elective abortions have admitting privileges in Texas hospitals: “It is possible, I mean, say, it’s unlikely, but it’s possible,” and, ““I don’t know of any.”

She also repeatedly stated that it would be wrong for the hospital to be required to grant privileges, while the Bill carries no such requirement: “My testimony is that requiring a hospital to grant privileges for procedures that occur outside the hospital, is an inappropriate.”

Sylvester Turner pounced on Ms. Wilson’s testimony, claiming that Section 2 would outlaw abortion in the State of Texas, since no doctor would be able to get hospital privileges: “We can’t get past this . . . This witness’ testimony is very critical.”

Ms. Wilson doesn’t see any benefit in the usual standard of continuity of medical care: “It seems to me that if a woman has complications, she’s going to come to the Emergency Department, whether her doctor has admitting privileges is irrelevant.” And, “I said that what the woman should do is come to the emergency room where the emergency personnel would render aid.”

Please call the Texas Hospital Association and demand that they correct the misrepresentations of Ms. Wilson.

 

 

Update: When you call, you can just ask to leave a message for the Legislative Affairs staff or ask to speak to that office.

Secular reasons to be pro-life

There are plenty of secular reasons to oppose elective abortion.

One of the main charges (read the comments on just about any blog, news story that even touches the subject) against pro-life advocates is that we are trying to force our religious views on everyone else. We’re accused of attempting to create a theocracy and compared to – or called – the “Taliban.”

First, for those of us who are human-centric, it is a fact that on this planet, humans are the only species having this conversation, which makes us special.

For atheists and agnostics who believe that this is our only life, doesn’t that give weight to the right not to be killed?

Finally, and most importantly, there’s the ethical viewpoint put forward by the Declaration of Independence. (Ignoring the “Creator,” and “created,” of course.) The Declaration clearly states that rights are endowed on the individual rather than bestowed by the government. that might does not make right. The proper function of government and society is to protect our inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Where might makes right to the point that the whoever has the biggest gun or can win the most votes, no one is truly safe.

Even if “We the People” decide who is human enough and who is not human enough to have the right not to be killed, there is no liberty and no pursuit of happiness.

Please let me know if you have other secular pro-life arguments.

Rush Limbaugh explains it all #SB5, #SCOTUS

Rush was talking about the Supreme Court ruling on gay “marriage,” but he might as well have been talking about the Texas Dems, Cecile Richards, and last night’s Mob at the Texas Capitol:

I have often said that what animates people on the left — what motivates them, what informs them — is defeating us. No matter how, no matter what, no matter what it means. Their hatred for us overwhelms anything else. No matter the result, victory that includes impugning and demeaning and insulting us is what they seek. It’s what makes them happy. Now, the left politicizes everything, and in this case, hardball politics became the name of the game.

Chaos, Mob, not filibuster, subverted Texas Senate #SB5 #TxLege

In the Texas Senate, the filibuster is a method of allowing a minority viewpoint known. The minority Legislator is allowed to speak without time limits and without unwanted interruptions, as long as he or she follows the rules laid out beforehand.

Yes, Senator Windy Wendy Davis began a filibuster. She knew the rules, and she broke them. Her fellow Democrat Senators engaged in stalling tactics, but it was the noise and chaos in the gallery that made the three minutes of difference that killed the Bill.

You can watch the Senate video at this page.The

Senators West, Whitmire,Watson, Ellis, Van de Putte, Zaffirini, and (of course) Senator Davis proved to all of us that they value the elective abortion of human beings above orderly government and Legislators.

I was, unfortunately, not shocked that Senator Leticia Van de Putte encouraged the gallery to disrupt the Senate. It also appears that she lied about the timing of her motion to adjourn. See the roll call vote beginning about 12:19/15:50. Note that she spoke and that the temporary President, Senator Duncan, responded after the roll call began. 12:31

I was surprised that the gallery wasn’t cleared much earlier, even though it might have meant that I would have had to leave. However, until the last hour, the outbreaks were intermittent and quickly calmed down.

My friends and I were very concerned about the reaction of those who so clearly showed no respect for the rest of us and who greatly outnumbered the State Troopers.  Every seat was full, the pro-life crowd was greatly outnumbered and the halls were crammed with more people in orange.  When the standing and shouting became constant, the Lt Governor signaled to the Troopers who began to remove people in an orderly manner.

More Troopers arrived, but they were constantly at risk of physical confrontation, with some of the Orange shirts resisting the request for them to file out. At one point, the Troopers were forced to lock the West doors of the Gallery and the Mob continued to push from the hall and fill the Rotunda.

I certainly didn’t want to be in the middle of a fight with these people and am grateful that the Troopers kept some semblance of order. I don’t believe that there was a way to clear the gallery earlier or with less disruption than we had and am proud of the State Troopers.

 

BMJ on RCOG Fetal Awareness White Paper #SB5 #TxProlife

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published their white paper on “fetal awareness” in 2011. (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Fetal Awareness – Review of Research and Recommendations for Practice. London: RCOG Press 2010 http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/RCOGFetalAwarenessWPR0610.pdf  Accessed June 24, 2013).

 
Here is a peer-reviewed, “editor’s choice” editorial outlining the flaws in that paper. “Fetal awareness and fetal pain: the Emperor’s new clothes” by Dr Martin Ward Platt, Newcastle Neonatal Service, of the Royal Victoria Infirmary http://fn.bmj.com/content/96/4/F236.long#ref-1 (Accessed June24, 2013).

 
The author, Dr. Platt, points out that the evidence for no fetal awareness until birth has no evidence in humans, only in animals. He further points out that it goes against our experience with sleep/wake cycles and what we know about the ability of the fetus to learn his mother’s voice and other learning, including long-term effects on brain anatomy and response to pain:

 

“So, what is the evidence that the human fetus lacks ‘awareness’? In a word, there is none. The only evidence, including the bit about the chemical environment, is in sheep and one or two other experimental animals. I have looked at the references in the report, and the references in the references, and when I finally got back to the primary literature I found no evidence for the contention that human fetuses lack awareness, or exist in some different conscious state, beyond the unwarranted extrapolation from sheep.

“In contradiction to the notion of the ‘unaware’ fetus, the everyday experience of pregnancy – the felt behaviours and responses of the unborn baby, especially to sound – as well as much primary research literature on the human fetus, contains strong evidence for an opposite view. There is an extensive literature, in humans, on fetal sleep and wakefulness, fetal motility, fetal memory, fetal hearing, fetal breathing and its control and fetal behaviour – and these are just examples that scratch the surface. None of this work is easily reconciled with the notion of a permanently unconscious human fetus. The third point in box 1 is simply not true.”

and

“. . . the precautionary principle of prevention and treatment of pain in case it is being experienced, which is an ethical rather than a scientific argument, nor does it affect the evidence in relation to the long term neurobiological effects of pain experiences in preterm babies.”

and

 

 

. . . “One notices statements in the report such as: “Interpretation of existing data indicates that cortical processing of pain perception, and therefore the ability of the fetus to feel pain, cannot occur before 24 weeks of gestation”. We could rewrite this as ‘in theory they can’t feel pain, therefore they don’t’. It is the substitution of wishful thinking for empirical enquiry. It reminds me of my days as a medical student when I was taught that once the periosteum was anaesthetised, bone marrow aspiration was painless because there were no nerve endings in the bone. As soon as I came to perform bone marrow aspiration I realised that, whether there were supposed to be nerve endings or not, the procedure caused deep bone pain. So: should we deny patients’ real experiences on entirely theoretical grounds, or accept them and look harder for the underlying cause? We now know that bone is richly innervated, but older techniques of bone histology were unable to demonstrate the fibres.”

BTW, Here’s the part of that (debunked by Dr Platt) 2011 RCOG paper that I found most interesting:
“One possible solution is to recognise that the newborn infant might be said to feel pain, whereas only the older infant can experience that they are in pain and explicitly share their condition with others as an acknowledged fact of being.”

Chub, Scrub, Stuff and Stall #SB5 #TxLege

Orange t-shirts admittedly outnumbered those of us in blue at the Texas State Capitol on Sunday, June 23. However, in the long run, what mattered in the passage of the House version of Senator Hegar’s Senate Bill 5, sponsored in the House by State Representative Jodi Laubenberg, is that Texas voters had sent a clear majority of pro-life Republicans to the House of Representatives.

If you’ve always wondered about the meaning of “chubbing,” look at the 6/23/13 record of the House video, available at the House website. Pro-abortion Democrat after Dem took the microphone to bring an amendment, with fellow pro-abortion Dems standing to ask questions and run out the clock.

You can also watch the effects of “POO,” or calling for “points of order” around 4:30 PM. House Democrats called for a review of the Rules, resulting in adjournment and restart after a delay of 2 hours.

As to those t-shirts, someone showed up with 1000 t-shirts to give away. Where did that money come from?  Interestingly, the women who gave out the shirts also wore Planned Parenthood buttons and successfully instructed those in the shirts how to act in the Gallery. And the orange shirts obeyed immediately.

One theme the Dems repeat is that SB 5 is not the protection for women that the Republicans say it is. They claim that pro-life laws are not about human life and ethics, but rather, simply about winning Republican primaries. This is a great example of “projection” of one’s own motives and wishes onto another. While I believe that Jessica Farrar would abort everyone with spina bifida and that Thompson is convinced that the embarrassment of the trauma of rape and incest is cured by abortion, the ultimate reason for the long night of interruptions and delays is that the clock is running out on the Special Session. If the Dems manage to delay long enough, SB 5 will not pass in the House. Even when it passes, the time used up in the House decreases the time that will have to be wasted in blocking it by filibuster in the Senate.

In the long run, the Democrat members in the Texas Legislature have repeatedly called for unfettered and unregulated elective abortion on demand.They claim that abortion is better for women and families than spending money on babies and children, that allowing babies to be born will ruin women’s lives, that it’s better to abort children with “fetal anomalies” and “birth defects” even when the “defective” human could live and make his or her own way through life. Senfronia Thompson even brought out a coat hanger to shake at the House and claimed that the cure for the “embarrassment” of the trauma of rape and incest is abortion, even after 20 weeks. Every one of the Dems seemed to have no understanding that the facility improvements will not be required for 15 months.

SB5 was passed finally in the House this morning. It will now have to go back to the Senate. There may not be time enough for reconciliation with the Senate version because of delays caused by both the House Republicans and House Dems. I hope that the protections in the Bill become law to protect the women who make the choice to abort their children and to protect the lives of fetuses at 20 weeks and greater.

Edited 7/11/13 for grammar and spelling errors – BBN

Stand for Life Sunday 6/23/13 1PM @ Texas Capitol #SB5 #HB60

#TxProlife and all Texas voters who would stop (or at least limit) the abortions of our little brothers and sisters are asked to join us in a prayerful, peaceful stand in favor of no abortions after 20 weeks, higher standards for abortion facilities and a requirement that the doctors who perform abortions maintain hospital privileges within 30 miles of the facility.

(seriously: doctors should have local hospital privileges, don’t you think?)

Please consider joining us at the Capitol when the House debates these Bills on Sunday. Wear blue, so we can show our numbers.

If you can’t attend, please pray for us and call your Representative’s office to ask for a “yes” vote on SB5 and HB60. Our best chance is to pass the Senate Bill, so the law will go through faster and with less chance of stalling. If the Senate has to agree with a different Bill, there may not be time.

Pray for a peaceful stand for life and courageous Legislators who will defend the Texans of tomorrow!

I won’t be able to follow this page very well during the meeting at the House, but should be able to keep up with those of you who contact me on Twitter, at bnuckols.

Texas State House Affairs Committee Video

The video is online at this page.

House State Affairs disruption #TxLege #HB60 #SB5

“There are many ways to kill a child, and abortion may be the kindest way to do it.”

That first line was not only a statement made by one woman who testified tonight (watch the meeting at the House website, here), it was a recurring theme at the House State Affairs Committee meeting on June 20,2013, even though there is no evidence that increased elective intentional abortion has ever decreased child abuse.

But, the suggestion that it is acceptable to kill children was not what disrupted the meeting of these Texans.  After many, many times of reminding them not to film the proceedings, not to engage in outbursts that broke up the meeting, Chair Byron Cook announced that he would limit the testimony in order to bring up the second Bill on the Agenda. At that point, the crowd began shouting and some tried to speak without being called to their turn. The Chair called a brief recess and testimony resumed. (Personally, I agree with the Chair that the crowd should be better behaved and with the citizens who had signed in that they should be allowed to speak.)

Earlier this week, Representative Jessica Farrar (D- 148, Houston) sent out this email:

Friend,Governor Perry has declared war on women.  Last week he vetoed the Texas Lilly Ledbetter Act because he thinks women should be paid less than men for doing the same work.  Now, he has added bad women’s health bills restricting safe access to abortion to the Special Legislative Session. This week is your only opportunity to speak out against these bills.Come to the State Capitol this Thursday afternoon and evening, June 20th, when the House State Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on these bad bills.  The hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. or upon adjournment of the House in Room JHR 140.Please prepare a three minute testimony on the subject, and speak from your heart. What you say can make a difference.  Be ready for a long night, as the hearing will go on as long as it takes.You can also fight back against Rick Perry’s war on women by helping to elect Democrats who will stand up for equal pay and women’s health issues. Please consider donating $5, $10, or $25 to the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee to ensure that our key Democratic legislators return, and that we are able to gain seats in the House.  Your support now will build the foundation we need to ensure this war on women will go no further.Sincerely,Jessica

Pol. Adv. paid for by the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, Lon Burnam, Treasurer.
P. O. Box 1925, Austin, TX 78767

Although Rep. Farrar admitted early on Thursday night, that “there are two lives involved” in abortion,   she is the one who suggested that we should abort every child with spina bifida in Committee, back in the regular Session. Below are some of the other continuing themes we’ve heard during testimony in favor of the status quo and against any new restrictions on abortion providers.

Texas has a culture of hate for women, so we should abort children (male and female) in order to prevent a “brain drain.”

A married Social Worker told us that she was “elated” after her abortion to be relieved of a responsibility she never wanted. Another woman said that her friends had abortions between 18 to 24 years old, claiming that it was before they were able to choose their majors in college or decide on an outfit! Many men said that they were “relieved” not to be burdened with unwanted children. One that really stuck out was 24 years old when he enabled the abortion of his own child.

One man, an angry 30 year old unemployed lawyer, echoed the wish of many of those who came at the call of the Texas Democrats. He and the others believe that the Texas Legislature should work on laws that will give him a job, healthcare benefits. (And child day care, Medicaid for all, maybe even an allowance for stay at home women.)

There were the usual complaints that men in the Legislature were trying to control the women of Texas (ignoring that the author of the Bill, many of the co-authors and a great many of the voters who put them in office are women) and the repetitive accusations that only religious bigots are “anti-choice.”

“There are many ways to kill a child, and abortion may be the kindest way to do it.” Maybe, because then the child will never know. But there are no GOOD ways to do it.

Addendum (or a couple of other recurrent themes):

1. The claim that abortion will prevent the consequences of post partum depression. Abortion is never treatment for what is properly called “perinatal” depression. In fact, perinatal depression can be triggered by miscarriage or spontaneous abortion and by elective interventional abortion.

2. Don’t forget that women and children will be harmed most by the limits on abortion and that Texas’ legislature should let President Obama give us free expanded Medicaid and Obamacare!

Update: the video can be viewed, here, at the Texas Legislature Online website.

Edited 6/21/13 at 9:00 AM to add the link to the video and add the ‘tag” HB60 – BBN

Edited 6/21/2013 for typos and to fix the penultimate (how often do I get to use that word?) paragraph “post partum depression,” not “post partum abortion.” (The latter is not possible, yet.) BBN

Cloned human embryos announced

Cell SCNT diagramTachibana May June2013If we can still believe scientific journals, Cell reports in the June 6, 2013 issue indicate that  scientists have succeeded in cloning human embryos.

The term used for cloning by the group is “reprogramming” fibroblasts using somatic cell nuclear transplantation. However, there’s no longer an attempt by the authors or members of the scientific press to create a new “unfertilized blastocyst” or pre-embryo: the embryos are called embryos, morula, and blastocysts.In recognition that these are not quite the same as embryonic stem cells derived from embryos produced by direct fertilization, the stem cells derived from the cloned blastocysts are designated as “Nuclear Transfer Embryonic Stem Cells” or NT-ESC.

Tachibana’s group obtained well over a 100 oocytes from women who underwent ovarian stimulation and transvaginal retrieval.

The growth of four embryos to the blastocyst stage resulted in NT-ESC, after differentiation into a blastocyst with a trophoblast (precursor of the placenta) and the inner cell mass (the part that will develops into the actual body of the human). These embryos were destroyed to harvest the ICM.

The report details years of research to find the optimum technique for cloning human embryos. It was found that the mitotic stage of the oocytes, MII, is critical. The researchers further developed a protocol utilizing caffeine and electrical stimulation to induce activation of the fused nucleus from the skin cell and donor oocyte. In addition, the authors found that “higher quality oocytes,” those more likely to form viable embryos, resulted when the ovarian stimulation yielded fewer than ten oocytes. If larger numbers of oocytes were produced due to the ovarian stimulation, somatic cell nuclear transfer was less likely. In fact, the first four clones that developed far enough to produce NT-ESC came from one woman who donated eight oocytes in one cycle, resulting in the production of five cloned embryos.

There are several ethical problems which surround this research.

First, as strongly noted by the Center for Bioethics and Culture, the ovarian stimulation risks abuse of women who might be placed at risk due to the hormones administered to induce ovulation. As noted in the paper,

“In the context of generating patient-specific pluripotent stem cells, reproducible results with various patient-derived somatic cells and with different egg donors are a necessity.”

Although the donation is called voluntary and anonymous, the women were compensated for their “time, effort, discomfort, and inconvenience associated with the donation process.”    I can’t help but wonder about how long the anonymity will last for the one woman whose oocytes yielded those first four successful clones and NT-ESCs or for the two women whose oocytes yielded the clones confirming the reproducibility of their method, in the second stage of the research. Or how much pressure they will face to continue to donate “voluntarily.”

The lack of concern for the women involved is revealed in this interview with the authors at The Scientist,

““I was worried that we might need a couple of thousand eggs to make all these optimizations, to find that winning combination. But it actually took just 128 [eggs], which is a surprisingly low number to make 6 [hESC] lines.””

6 NT-ESC lines were derived from 128 harvested oocytes, for a yield of 4.6% In later stages, the success rate was still 2 NT-ESC lines from 7 embryos and 15 oocytes, or 13% of oocytes.

The primary objection is that 100% of the human embryos were created in harm’s way and must be destroyed to harvest the NT-ESCs.

These embryos are delayed human twins, artificially induced. Although the first cell of these embryos began in the lab, as the result of highly technical and involved procedures, they are human embryos and near-identical twins of the somatic cell nucleus.   There is indirect acknowledgement that the embryos are twins of the donor of the fibroblasts by the reporting that tests of the chromosomes of the cloned embryos show that the DNA matches that of the donor of the fibroblasts, a patient with Leigh’s syndrome.

The sources of fibroblast nuclei raise other ethical dilemmas. The first research was carried out using female fetal fibroblasts. Later research involved creating human embryos with Leigh’s syndrome.  Leigh’s syndrome results from a genetic defect of the mitochondria, the cell “power plant,” which is inherited from the mother and only found in the cell cytoplasm, not the nucleus. Reports are already ignoring the fact that the donor’s twins were produced with the express intention of destroying them for their inner cell mass. At least one is predicting that this is a technique which can be used to create future children for mothers who have the abnormal mitochondria.

The report, Tachibana et al., “Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer,” Cell (2013),http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.006, is available on-line and in PDF (as of today).

Why Ethics? | LifeEthics.org

If there’s no such thing as right and wrong or good and evil, why are we arguing in the first place?

If you crack the egg of a bird on the Endangered Species List, it won’t matter that the bird was a fetus or embryo. You’ve still broken Federal law. Why is the species of an (unhatched) animal so clear cut under law, but human embryos have no protection under current law? Legal follies such as this underscore our lack of seriousness and consistency when contemplating our children of tomorrow. My concern is that we are not teaching them why they should treat us kindly, much less giving them a good example.

Bioethics dilemmas and most political disputes may seem to be new problems, but they’re not. Every “new” problem is another facet of the potential to deny the existence of right and wrong or to infringe on the inalienable rights of our fellow humans. Knowledge of the basics can guide decisions and actions.

If there’s no such thing as right and wrong or good and evil, why are we arguing in the first place? These truths transcend relative social considerations and laws, including religious beliefs, ideology, or the wants and wishes of the powerful or majority. They even transcend time and space: if you take a close look at the big debates, the speakers aren’t simply talking to each other: we’re arguing with the great thinkers of the past and trying to convince people who come along after us.

The unique nature of the species Homo sapiens sapiens is the source and the definition of “human dignity,” and the reason that all members of the species and our offspring are human beings who should be valued equally, without discrimination.

And of course, we are unique, since It looks like we’re the only species having this conversation. We’re the only species that, when an individual has safety, food and sex, doesn’t just go to sleep. Our species makes art, records history, and argues about the nature of the universe. Humans seem to naturally “know” “that’s not fair,” even at 3 or 4 years old. We seek Unconditional Justice, Truth, Love, Beauty and Knowledge. And we value Unconditional Love most of all.

The Negative rights to Life, Liberty and Property are owned and endowed upon individuals; they are not the property of or gift of societies or governments. These exist in a necessary order; a hierarchy of importance and power to call on society for protection. The right not to be killed trumps the right not to be enslaved, which precedes the right not to have your property taken from you by force or fraud. If they can kill you, there are no limits on how much they can enslave you or take from you. We must be secure that others won’t take our property against our will, because earning and owning property is how we avoid enslavement to others and how we make plans and lay by the staples of life to support the lives of ourselves and our families, both immediately while we can earn, and later when we are unable to work.

Society and government must protect these “inalienable” rights of individuals, but only as far as to ensure equality of opportunity, not the equality of outcome. These are protections against the actions of others, not against words or thoughts. It is not protection or promotion of someone’s personal tastes and not the right to not be offended. We must be very, very careful when we tax and even more careful if we presume to force the actions of others.

Good politics and science cannot exist in a moral vacuum. The powerful, the majority, the surging mob. the man with the biggest gun or governments cannot do good when their actions infringe on the life, liberty or property of the individual. To claim that people must act or give up property indefinitely for the greater good – Utilitarianism – ends in domination without measurable or objective limits.

And yet, to function in society carries responsibilities. Extraordinary privileges like those given to lawmakers, doctors, and scientists to do good, may also result in extraordinary power to do evil through abuse of unequal power of weapons, tools, numbers or even knowledge and skill. This is where conscience and the first principle of “first do no harm” come in. The right of conscience is a function of the liberty of an individual not to be forced to act against his understanding of good and evil, right and wrong.

Medicine and science have held a unique position to advocate for the protection of human rights, at least since Hippocrates, who formalized the now 2500 year old oath to “heal when possible, but First, do no harm” Non-maleficence, or not acting in order to avoid harm, must precede and be incorporated in the desire to do good or beneficence.

Once again, we come back to that first point: all of our offspring, descendants deserve the same value and protection of their rights to life, liberty and property without discrimination. It’s possible that we already have offspring among us who are not of our species. Science has created human embryos with more than two biological parents and others who have been the subject of genetic manipulation. Also out there are is the Humanity+ or Transhumanism movement in all its permutations, along with more accessible enhancement of the human mind and body through technology, medicine, machines, and manipulation at the nano-level.

We must consider how our children of tomorrow will consider us. It is true that humans aren’t perfect, we will make mistakes, and some humans will purposefully infringe on the rights of others. However, what values and principles will the pattern of our governments and individual action reflect? Will it be our respect and love for one another? Will they respect and love us or will they look back in horror or disgust?

(I want to thank Robert Spitzer, who wrote “Healing the Culture,” one of the best Ethics books in existence.)

This is a March, 2011 post from LifeEthics. org. Why Ethics? | LifeEthics. Edited 5/10/13 to move to top of the list.

Lest we forget — “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” Journal of Medical Ethics

#Gosnell would be vindicated if these “ethicists” have their way

There are two reasons which, taken together, justify this claim:

The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.

It is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense.

via After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? — Giubilini and Minerva — Journal of Medical Ethics.

You decide: Physician-Assisted Suicide — NEJM

You can comment, let the New England Journal of Medicine editors and the world know your thoughts.

Do you believe that Mr. Wallace should be able to receive life-terminating drugs from his physician? Which one of the following approaches to the broader issue do you find appropriate? Base your choice on the published literature, your own experience, and other sources of information.

To aid in your decision making, each of these approaches is defended in the following short essays by experts in the field. Given your knowledge of the patient and the points made by the experts, which option would you choose? Make your choice and offer your comments at NEJM.org.

via Physician-Assisted Suicide — NEJM.

My opinion is that poisoning Mr. Wallace, or writing the prescription so that he can attempt to intentionally commit suicide, is a direct infringement of Mr. Wallace’s inalienable right not to be killed.

Connecting the Dots on Healthcare – Hal Scherz – Page 2

Just one reason that Medicaid expansion is a bad idea. (There are more at the source.)

 

The GOP Governors who are expanding Medicaid at the behest of the federal government are helping to facilitate and accelerate this process, paving the way for full government run healthcare. Insurance companies will be unable to compete with the federal government, which is acting as both a player in the insurance market and also as the referee in the system, until private insurance companies cease to exist in healthcare.

via Connecting the Dots on Healthcare – Hal Scherz – Page 2.

Cloned “Clone and Kill” Bill

I testified in front of the Texas House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The video is here, House State Affairs 2/20/13 (Free RealPlayer program required.) Mr. Raymond comes up at about 3:30 minutes in, and my effort starts at 8 minutes in. It’s short and sweet.)

HB 142, authored by Representative Richard Raymond of Texas’ House District 42 in Laredo, looks a lot like his HB 1829 from 2007. These are “clone and kill bills, which nominally ban cloning, but actually redefine cloning, and would force the killing of any human embryo intentionally killed by nuclear transplantation. HB 142 ignores the history of the last 6 years, and uses inaccurate terminology.

Watch this space for alternative language that would actually ban human cloning.

De Tocqueville Moment

The answer to the question I asked back in July, 2011, is “yes.”

Has the United States of America reached the Moment predicted by Alex de Tocqueville when he warned that,”The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money?”

Worse, Congress has proven that “some animals are more equal than others” and that the majority – or their representatives – can take liberty and property from the minority for the benefit of the majority. (“Life” was already infringed by abortion laws.)

Forget for a moment that nearly half of the people in the US haven’t paid income taxes for years, and in fact, 1/5 don’t pay income taxes or payroll taxes, at all. (Their taxes are “negative,” meaning they get more from the Federal system than they pay.)

“Weary” wink?

Most people who don’t pay taxes understand that it’s wrong to take from others, and that good ethics do not demand that other people give them stuff, no matter how much the “rich” have.   Nevertheless, the Golfing President from Hawaii (not Illinois) demonizes people who “only” pay 35%-40%.

That 39.6% tax rate on “the rich” will effectively be closer to 41%, since personal deductions and itemized deductions are being phased out or eliminated for those earning more than $300,000. Add in the 3.8% “the unearned income Medicare contribution tax,” and we’re creeping toward 50%.

Welcome to Newspeak.

Grover Norquist says a vote for tax increases is a vote for permanent tax decreases. (Yes, some is better than none, but let’s be honest – the Bill is a tax increase that’s not balanced by cuts in spending.)

How about the extension of unemployment benefits for another year or, better yet, retro-active tax benefits for those who use trains, buses, trolleys or trams to go to work? $230 per month for tickets and another $240 or more per month for parking!

Another “back door tax” resulting from the Bill passed by the House and Senate over the last 2 days is a delay in tax refunds. Since many who were taxed under the Alternative Minimum Tax won’t know their real tax rate for 2012 until mid- February or so, they can’t file and can’t get their money back from the IRS.

Obama flies back to Hawaii, Proves that majority can take your property

11:30 p.m. ET – Obama will depart the White House late Tuesday, the White House announced, to resume his vacation in Hawaii. He left his family on the island earlier this week, putting his vacation on hold and returning to Washington to deal with the fiscal cliff negotiations.

via Latest updates: House approves fiscal cliff bill – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs.

NY Newspaper Draws Flak for Map of Gun Owners – Updated

The purpose of the Second Amendment is not the delivery of bullets, knife blades, or the force of blunt objects. Its purpose is to prohibit Congress – the Government – from infringing on “the right to keep and bear arms.” Those arms are for the purpose of ensuring a “free state,” wherein we the people live freely without fear of the government or other bullies threatening our inalienable rights.

In the same way, the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee that anyone else will receive your speech. It does, however prohibit limits on your speech by Congress, as long as you don’t harm someone else.

None of our inalienable rights trump the inalienable rights of others. No one may freely use their gun to infringe on the life, liberty or property of another person — it’s only to be used in defense of rights. The same thing goes for the right to free speech and press. If your expression causes harm to another person who is not threatening you or anyone else, then you should be liable, whether you are guilty of yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, or of publishing names and addresses of law abiding people who are minding their own business.

Unfortunately, members of the Press don’t understand the harm their speech can cause others:

The Monday article in The Journal News was headlined “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood,” and was in response to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

“Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves? What a bunch of liberal boobs you all are,” wrote one reader.

The sentiments were echoed by another, who wrote, “How dare you guys. You have just destroyed the privacy of these law-abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murders. These are law-abiding gun owners, they are no danger to anyone except for criminals. And with this information you have made them targets for both criminals and anti-gun lobbyist who I am sure are going to treat them like monsters. I hope you are sued for infringing on the privacy rights of every single one of these citizens you have just put in harm’s way.”

One reader, in an attempt to “turn the tables on the Journal and see how they like it,” posted the home addresses of the newspaper’s president, top editors, and the reporter who wrote the story.

The gun registration information, which is available to the public, was obtained by The Journal News through a through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On Tuesday, in an article written by Journal News Reporter Randi Weiner, the paper defended its decision to post the addresses of handgun permit holders across Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Counties, the northern suburbs of New York City where the paper is read.

“We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings,” Weiner quoted CynDee Royle, editor and vice president of the newspaper. “People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods.”

Royle said that a freedom of information request seeking the specifics on how many and what types of weapons were owned by people in the above mentioned counties was denied.

via NY Newspaper Draws Flak for Map of Gun Owners.

Note: I’ve added the links to the NewsMax article, which didn’t have what I consider important information. A thank you “Hat Tip” to the blog, “For What It’s Worth,” for one of the links and for being resourceful!

Blowin’ Smoke: Willie Nelson and the Constitution

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zAimTSyTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpgI’m in the middle of reading Willie Nelson’s latest book, the semi-biographic stream of consciousness, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.

I enjoy the stories about his life and family, but I’m continually irritated by his confused comments on politics and ethics.

It really knocks me for a loop when I encounter someone like Mr. Nelson, who has obviously thought long and hard about certain issues but doesn’t seem to understand the basics of ethics or logic. Because he doesn’t know *why* some things are right and others are wrong, he ends up proving one of the homey proverbs he quotes in the book: if you don’t stand for something, you’ll end up falling for anything.

I love to hear Willie Nelson and his songs. My husband and I went to see his band play at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio last January and were very impressed by the Nelson concerts — both of them. Lukas Nelson’s band, Promise of the Real, opened for his father and sons Lukas and Mikah joined the Nelson family on the stage.

It’s tempting to reference Laura Ingraham’s book, Shut Up and Sing, along with the theory and demand behind it. Just because a person is a great singer, songwriter and guitar player, doesn’t mean he’s a great person, much less that he’s a great philosopher or thinker. It certainly shouldn’t mean that his philosophy should be given greater weight than that of other people because of his celebrity and access to the press.

The fact is that Mr. Nelson is a leader and he influences a large number of people. It’s a shame it’s not for the right reasons.

In this book, Mr. Nelson praises the Occupy Wall Street protests, says he agrees with Warren Buffet “that it just ain’t fair for people like us to have all the advantages,” and states that the Second Amendment shouldn’t apply to today’s weapons because they aren’t designed for hunting, only for killing people. His religious comments are mostly just silly ramblings.

However, the cause Mr. Nelson is best identified with – and the one for which it would be simplest to correct his logical errors – is the legalization of marijuana. He writes about his founding of the “TeaPot Party” in the book. Mr. Nelson’s reason for legalizing marijuana is simply that people want to smoke it and there are other legal substances that are worse. And he proposes a Statist’s plan as flimsy as his utilitarian ethic: “Tax it, regulate it and legalize it!” to raise money for the Government:

 It’s already been proven that taxing and regulating marijuana makes more sense than sending young people to prison for smoking a God-given herb that has never proven to be fatal to anybody. Cigarettes and alcohol have killed millions, and there’s no law against them, because again, there’s a lot of money in cigarettes and alcohol. If they could realize there is just as much profit in marijuana, and they taxed and regulated it as they do cigarettes and alcohol, they could realize the same amount of profit and reduce trillions of dollars in debt.

Nelson, Willie; Friedman, Kinky (2012-11-13). Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road (p. 20). William Morrow. Kindle Edition. (accessed 12/03/2012)

It might surprise some people that I – the self-proclaimed “hot air under the right wing” – agree that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal to grow, own or use. I base my belief on a plain reading of the US Constitution. How on Earth can our Federal government outlaw a plant that literally grows like a weed and doesn’t require manufacturing or processing to use? In fact, my theory as to why the plant is illegal is because it would be hard to regulate and tax.

Or maybe not.

Back in the mid-1990’s, I attempted to grow a traditional herbal medicine garden and ran into trouble obtaining Oriental poppy seeds, Papaver somniferum. Most of the orders I placed were cancelled, so I started doing some research. I learned that the Clinton Administration was raiding gardens and arresting people for growing and sharing the seeds of heirloom plants passed down from their mothers. This was in spite of the age-old use of the plants in gardens and herbal medicine, as well as the ready availability of food grade fertile Oriental poppy seeds for cooking and baking.

The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that the Federal government’s “War on Drugs” is not Constitutional and it’s not conservative. I agree with Mr. Nelson that this “war” is a costly abuse of government that strengthens organized crime and too many American freedoms have fallen as collateral damage. But the reason is not because people want to abuse drugs or because the Government could make money off the taxes. It’s because there’s no justification for outlawing a plant in the Constitution.

This is what happens when we the People don’t know our own Constitution and allow our Legislators to habitually pass abusive laws:  the infringement of our inalienable rights.

Medical Regulation, Texas Style

The Texas Institute for Health Care Quality and Efficiency Draft Report is posted for public comment.

You only have a day and a half to comment, since the next meeting of our Board of Directors is Thursday, November 15th. All comments should be sent by 1 PM on Wednesday, November 14th.

Report to the Texas Legislature on Activities to Improve Health Care Quality and Efficiency
Report Number: 2012-001

The following downloads are available:
Report 2012-001: 2012-001-Draft-Report.pdf
Appendix E: AppendixE.pdf
Appendix F: AppendixF.pdf

Instructions on submitting your comments are here.

Now, for a few comments on my observations as a Board member:

Believe it or not, the time frame from the passage of the legislation in SB 7 last June, 2011, to today and in anticipation of preparing for legislation beginning in January, 2013, is too tight. The Institute’s staff and coordinators did a good job of herding cats in the Board. In addition, the Board members worked hard to make all the meetings, to participate, and to contribute. We have met at least once a month, sometimes more than twice, since our appointment. The Board isn’t paid or even reimbursed for expenses by the State, and many gave up work in order to attend meetings far from their homes.

I haven’t commented on the draft until now, because the Board received our first full copy for review and comment on November 2, and comments were due by 5 PM, Election Day, November 6th. We’re all appointed by the Governor — it stands to reason that a few of us would be actively involved in the election and campaigns. I didn’t even open the email until Nov. 7.

I’m not happy with the length of the report, but I guess the nuances of our discussions over the last few months needed to be documented somewhere. Go to the page 34 in the pdf, numbered “26” in the Draft, for the actual recommendations made by vote in the Board meetings.

Finally, my main concern has been with the bureaucracy and regulation that the members of the Board have sometimes appeared to support. In the end, I believe that we have limited recommendations for regulation and “hassle factors” more than some would like. My hope is that the Legislature will decide to focus initially on implementing any new measures in our own State health plans and not interfere directly in private health care practice and systems, except where and when the State foots the bill.

Since President Obama won reelection, I believe that the ability of the 83rd Texas Legislature to adapt and react to Federal Regulations  – Obamacare – will be improved by the work of the Institute.

Another reason to vote Romney

Robin Alta Charo, the lawyer/ethicist-for-hire, one time Clinton advisor turned Obama transition advisor then FDA consultant, has been appointed to 2 new positions at the National Institutes of Health.

In her new role, Charo will advise on ethical and regulatory issues raised by translational research, such as privacy and civil rights concerns raised by research using human tissues residing in large biobanks or public health implications of deploying genetics and personalized medicine to target drug development toward narrower segments of the population. She will also participate in overseeing the peer review process for research proposals submitted to NCATS.

Ms. Charo, the inventor of the “Endarkenment,” supports sex-selection abortion, believes cloning will finally prove there’s no God, and frequently writes op-eds for the New England Journal of Medicine, specializing in her opposition to conscience rights. She likens Medicine to a “public utility, obligated to provide service to all who seek it. Claiming an unfettered right to personal autonomy while holding monopolistic control over a public good constitutes an abuse of the public trust — all the worse if it is not in fact a personal act of conscience but, rather, an attempt at cultural conquest.”

“Aid in Dying” promoted in the Journal “Chest”

It’s difficult to write about a respected medical journal which promotes “Aid in Dying” without resorting to emotional words such as “horrifying,” “shocking,” or “murder,” but I’ll try. However, I will not call the practice “physician aided death” or “aid in dying.”  It is, at best “physician assisted suicide,” and at worst, “euthanasia,” or the use of medical technology and procedures to actively end the life – to intentionally kill – a patient. This is not “medicine” as I understand it.

Chest is the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. These are the Internal Medicine subspecialists who focus on lung disease, cardiac care, and sleep medicine. They are likely to be the doctors who care for the most vulnerable patients, especially in the Intensive Care Unit at your hospital.

Under the heading “Medical Ethics,” in the July, 2012 issue is an article titled, “Aid in Dying: Guidance for an Emerging End-of-Life Practice,” authored by Kathryn L. Tucker, J.D. The article is available online as a web page, here, and as in pdf., here.

Beginning with a principle that virtually all of us can agree with,the right to refuse intentional medical intervention, the article quickly moves to the very controversial opinion that the first principle ensures the “right” to request “treatment” that is intended to end the life of the patient – to kill:

•A patient with decision-making capacity has the legal right to refuse or request the withdrawal of any medical treatment or intervention, regardless of whether he or she is terminally ill and regardless of whether the treatment prolongs life and its withdrawal results in death.

•A patient with decision-making capacity has the legal right to request and receive as much pain medication as necessary for relief, even if it advances the time of death.

•Principles of autonomy that underlie respecting patient rights to refuse or direct withdrawal of life-prolonging interventions or to request pain medication even if it advances time of death support the choice for aid in dying. Aid in dying is increasingly accepted in law and medicine in the United States.

•Provision of aid in dying does not constitute assisting a suicide or euthanasia. Aid in dying is a practice with growing support in the public and medical and health policy communities and is likely to become more widely requested in the future.

•A clinician cannot be compelled to provide treatment that conflicts with his or her personal values. In these circumstances, the clinician cannot abandon the patient but should refer the patient to a colleague who is willing to provide the service.

Four prima facie principles have been used to characterize most ethical concerns in medicine: respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Respect for patient autonomy refers to the duty to respect patients and their rights of self-determination; beneficence refers to the duty to promote patient interests; nonmaleficence refers to the duty to prevent harm to patients; and justice refers, in part, to the duty to treat patients and distribute health-care resources fairly.11 When applied to the care of an individual patient, however, these principles may conflict with one another. For example, a patient’s values, preferences, and goals may be at odds with a clinician’s perception of how best to help and not harm the patient. Clinical ethics identify, analyze, and provide guidance on how to resolve these conflicts.

While I believe that there may come a time when it is ethical to stop trying to keep a patient alive – when treatment is only making the dying process longer – I will never assist in an act that can only end in the death of my patient. The way I explain this is that I will assist in removing a ventilator under certain circumstances, but I won’t then put a pillow over the patient’s face to make sure she can’t breathe on her own afterwards. The intent of medicine is to diagnose and treat disease, not to end the life of patients suffering from disease.

Penumbra of a tax

It’s not tax enough to invoke the Anti-injunction Act of 1987, but it will be collected by the IRS so it’s a legal, Constitutional, tax?

Maybe it’s just a shadow of a tax?

The Roberts decision on the mandate to purchase health insurance, is more confusing to me than most legal decisions. I keep looking for a way to untangle what appears to be circular contradiction, rather than logic. Here’s the best summary I’ve found that seems to say that the money the IRS collects is a tax, not a penalty for breaking the law:

Such an analysis suggests that the shared responsibility payment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax. The payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy health insurance; the payment is not limited to willful violations, as penalties for unlawful acts often are; and the payment is collected solely by the IRS through the normal means of taxation. Cf. Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U. S. 20, 36–37. None of this is to say that payment is not intended to induce the purchase of health insurance. But the mandate need not be read to declare that failing to do so is unlawful. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS. And Congress’s choice of language—stating that individuals “shall” obtain insurance or pay a “penalty”—does not require reading §5000A as punishing unlawful conduct. It may also be read as imposing a tax on those who go without insurance. See New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 169–174. Pp. 35–40.

Many of us have complained that laws and regulations have become too complicated, that no one can keep up or even avoid inadvertently breaking laws here and there. But this law is even worse because it forces action and taxes or penalizes the failure to act according to the Government’s determination of what is for our own good, rather than punishing an action or inaction that infringes on the rights of another.

To repeat hundreds of others, including the Justices who wrote the dissenting report, what are the limits of the Government once it can charge me for not doing some act?

All I can say is, vote to overturn the ObamaTax.

 

Praise for a centrist (#TxSen @DavidHDewhurst on @teDCruz)

In a two page letter in a November, 2008 mailer from The National Law Journal, Ted Cruz (then a new partner in a global law firm)  wrote a letter endorsing John McCain for President.

Many of us supported Senator McCain in 2008.  Like Cruz, we may have commended McCain for his military service, for voting on principle, and for his efforts to fight the war on terror. Some of us may have cast our vote for Sarah Palin or against Obama.

However, Mr. Cruz specifically praises John McCain for his “moderation,” for being a  “centrist,” and for his avoidance of “divisive” issues: abortion, marriage, tort reform, free trade, and union “bosses.”

National Law Journal: Why I Choose McCain (By Ted Cruz)

Obama, to his credit, speaks often of bipartisanship. But there are virtually no issues of consequence where he has dared to part with the far left of his party. Trial lawyers, union organizers, protectionists, and advocates for gay rights and abortion rights make up some of the core constituencies of the modern Democratic party. And, predictably, Obama has pledged to oppose tort reform; to abolish secret elections for union organization (which would render workers vulnerable to being strong-armed into voting for union bosses); to oppose free trade with allies like Colombia and to “renegotiate” NAFTA; to oppose a federal Marriage Amendment; and to sign legislation repealing restrictions on “partial-birth” abortion, parental notification, and government funding of abortion.

McCain’s record, in contrast, reflects far greater moderation. Rather than advocate on these divisive issues, McCain has focused his passion on fighting and winning the global war on terror.

I’ll admit that the only reference I can give is a link posted in a “hit piece” on the David Dewhurst for Texas Senator campaign website. Nevertheless, the letter is reproduced in full and says what it says. He doesn’t pull punches when it comes to Islamic terrorism or the importance of naming Supreme Court justices. Why does he focus his praise, his whole endorsement, on what many of us on the right would consider Mr. McCain’s weaknesses?

Ted Cruz RUSE #8: TEDCRUZ THE DECEPTIVE POLITICAL WEATHER VANE

Liberty Movement 101 (or Re-love-ution 10.1)

Check out the ongoing comments on my post at TexasGOPVote.org, if you’ve wondered about the philosophy of the Ron Paul supporters who are trying to win control of the Republican Party. They reaffirm my conclusion after years of flirting with (capital L)ibertarian philosophy: the Libertarian Party is not compatible with conservatism. Conservatism advocates small government, with a few rules, while utilitarianism, and especially objectivism, celebrate license rather than liberty and all too often de-volve into nihilism.

I can sympathize with the proponents of Libertarianism, having spent years participating on the Libertarians for Life list-serve in the ’90’s and early 2000’s. I even tried out to justify “Christian Libertarianism,” which I’ve concluded is an oxymoron. (Check out the blog, Vox Popoli, which, unlike most Libertarian groups, supports traditional marriage.)

The comments at TexasGOPVote.org by one man on marriage were probably the most enlightening:

If two men or women want to get into a contract we see as morally wrong, who are you or me to tell them no?? They don’t have to accept our definition of marriage, and we don’t have to accept their definition of marriage, but neither one of us have the right to use government force to make the other accept our values. That would be Statism. Additionally, faith is a gift, and not all are blessed with it. You, nor I have the right to claim we know that which is unknowable. We can speculate, and we can have faith, but we cannot judge others who may have different beliefs.

These aren’t the first time we’ve heard/read/countered these arguments. Remember the calls for “open marriage” and “do your own thing” in the ’60’s? Demands for restructuring marriage and the family are pervasive in virtually every historic “revolution” EXCEPT the American Revolution, which was based on Judeo-Christian principles:  from the enclave that gave us the Enlightenment, to the French Revolution, to the Soviet Revolution and the various social experiments of the 20th Century.

Abortion of the Teaching Moment

Public policy in education and ethics discourse are approaching a climate in which there are no standards of morality and no expectation of – much less recognition of – any ultimate Truth and no acknowledgement of right or wrong other than arbitrary enforcement of faddish laws.

“The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression.”

Earlier this month, I reported on the Journal of Medical Ethics“After Birth Abortion; Why should the baby live?” The quote above is from one of the editors of the Journal, Julian Savulescu, who apparently does not understand that his support of “rational argument” and “freedom of ethical expression” is a substantive moral view, dogma or moral outlook. Savulescu is a perfect example that my opening statement is true.

Among the many unintended consequences of this lack of standards is that there is now seems to be no place for teaching and learning. How do our teachers, much less our students, develop judgment about ethics in a world with only subjective standards? How do our teachers correct a horrible overstepping of what were once considered boundaries if there are no boundaries?

Where and when do we find the teaching moment, an opportunity to review basic ethics and learn once again why these ethics fit the event or question?

British Journal of Medical Ethics: “after-birth abortion”

“1. The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.
“2. It is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her
from developing the potentiality to become a person in the
morally relevant sense.”

The British Journal of Medical Ethics  continues to publish thought exercises that go against common sense and traditional medical ethics, “emphasising” (British spelling) the utilitarian world-view  of today’s “medical ethics,” without the slightest acknowledgment that there might be harm in the act of arguing that not all human beings are “morally relevant persons.”

This month, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, redefine “abortion,” “euthanasia,” and “infanticide” in “After-Birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?”

In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.

The arguments don’t work other than as an example of the logical results of the utilitarian world view that has come to dominate medical ethics and to illustrate what Leon Kass called “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” or the “yuck factor.”

One of the editors, Julian Salvulescu, who believes that values and conscience lead to “a Pandora’s box of idiosyncratic, bigoted, discriminatory medicine,” defends the piece on the grounds that that the ideas are not new.  Indeed, the authors discuss the history of killing babies before and after birth because of medical diagnoses such as Down’s syndrome and after birth due to suffering of the child or the lack of worth placed on the child by his or her mother. The Netherland’s “Groningen Protocol” for active euthanasia of children is mentioned as precedent for government support for their position.

We should let these “expressions” be a warning to us all in these days of increasing government involvement in healthcare. As the authors argue,

“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

Freedom of expression and the discussion of even such unpopular ideas do have a place in our world. However, I wonder at an “ethics” journal whose editors claim that their

“Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression.”

Obviously, they do support “sound rational argument” and “freedom of ethical expression”  over “moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks.”

At what point would the editors determine that “ethicists” should be censured, corrected or even retrained? Would the Journal publish a “sound rational argument” that advocates the end of “freedom of ethical expression?”

Spare Parts for Humans: Tissue Engineers Aim for Lab-Grown Limbs, Lungs and More | PBS NewsHour | Dec. 15, 2011 | PBS

“Just because we don’t regenerate doesn’t mean that we can’t regenerate. It just means that we don’t.”

via Spare Parts for Humans: Tissue Engineers Aim for Lab-Grown Limbs, Lungs and More | PBS NewsHour | Dec. 15, 2011 | PBS.

Public Broadcasting System’s PBS NewsHour had a segment on regenerative medicine, reviewing the very impressive progress we’ve made in the last few years. The mere fact that PBS and scientists will state these facts in public is almost as huge, in terms of world view change, as the fact that the matrices plus stem cells work.

I was at a American Bioethics and Humanities annual convention when Yamanaka’s induced pluripotent cells first made the news. The Powers That Be for that group were angry and refused to allow any hopeful conversation that the iPSC’s would replace the need for research on destructive, embryonic stem cells. Damage control included scolding world authority figures *on* the panels for daring to bring up the subject in any serious way.

I’m convinced that the whole embryonic stem cell mess was more about the need to prove that abortion is wonderful and that there is no Creator. In fact, that’s exactly what one of the Clinton/Obama “bioethicists,” Robin Alta Charo, said about cloning in at least one meeting I attended in July, 2006.  (More, here.)

Ms. Charo who introduces morality and her anti-religion bias into the conversation, by making it a matter of personal opinion whether or not embryonic humans are humans. The species of human embryos is a matter of taxonomy, since it’s scientifically documented and verifiable that the offspring of a given species are members of that species. Discrimination between the amount of protection given to some members of a species is much more a “religious” or moral decision than whether or not a given individual is a member of that species.

I’ve said it many times before, but: Break the egg of a bird, turtle, or lizard on the Endangered species list and it won’t matter that the animal couldn’t survive or was an embryo or fetus. The Feds know that an embryonic pelican is a pelican. We don’t have the same protection for our own children of tomorrow that we give lesser species, although we are the only species having the conversation in the first place.

 

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