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.
Using words such as “egregious,” “cynical,” “outrageous,” and “deceive,” the Texas Catholic Bishops Conference have published the letter that they sent to Texas Legislators concerning the actions of Texas Right to Life concerning Senate Bill 303 and its companion, House Bill 1444 on April 15, 2013.
Since employees and representatives of TRL continue to “stoke fear through ridiculous claims,” (and to harass those who support the Bills) here’s the letter (I’ve reproduced the emphasis is in the original):
The Texas Catholic Conference is compelled to publicly correct the misstatements and fabrications that continue to be perpetuated by the Texas Right to Life organization against legislation to improve end-of-life care by reforming the Texas Advance Directives Act.
It has been said that all is fair in love, war and Texas politics. However, the actions of Texas Right to Life have been so egregious and cynical, especially when comes to misrepresenting the moral and theological doctrine of the Catholic Church, that the TCC cannot stay silent.
Texas’ Advance Directives Act needs reform. Current law lacks clarity given the complexity of end-of-life care, contains definitions that could permit the withdrawal of care for patients – including food and water – and permits unilateral Do Not Resuscitate Orders without the permission of, or even consultation with, the family.
Senate Bill 303 and House Bill 1444 are based on Catholic moral principles and reasonable medical standards for defending human life and protecting the conscience of both families and physicians. Both billsprevent unilateral DNRs, improve communication between medical providers and families, ensure a clear and balanced process for resolving differences, and give families the right to challenge Do Not Resuscitate Orders before a medical ethics committee.
In both its materials and communications with legislative offices and staff, Texas Right to Life has tried to stoke fear through ridiculous claims of nonexistent “death panels” and assertions that doctors are “secretly trying to kill patients.” Both claims are absurd. The truth is, many factors are involved in the sausage-grinding process of public policymaking. Some have less to do with making good laws and more about individual personalities and fundraising opportunities of organizations.
It is outrageous that an organization purportedly committed to the rights and dignity of life would resort to such disingenuous tactics that deceive honest and caring people. What is worse is doing so in a way that perpetuates current law and may cause unnecessary patient suffering.
Texas Right to Life has no authority to articulate Catholic moral teaching, and certainly does not have permission to represent the views of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at the Texas Catholic Conference. We are more than happy to answer any questions or provide the Texas Catholic Bishops’ position on any issue before the Legislature.
(Edited for spelling and grammar, 4/25/13 BBN)
Great news from Australia!
“In 2011 no genital wart diagnoses were made among 235 women under 21 years of age who reported prior human papillomavirus vaccination,” the authors noted. “The significant declines in the proportion of young women found to have genital warts and the absence of genital warts in vaccinated women in 2011 suggests that the human papillomavirus vaccine has high efficacy outside the trial setting. Large declines in diagnoses of genital warts in heterosexual men are probably due to herd immunity.”The study provided a glimpse of the impact of HPV vaccination in a real-world community setting as opposed to a clinical trial.
6:05/8:18 Farrar: “So, so, this diagnosis is missed, they
have a fetal anomaly, the spine’s outside the body or something, you say you would not have an exception for that situation.”
Watch the video at 6:05 (See below ++) of the April 10, 2013 Texas House State Affairs Committee meeting hearing on HB 2364, by Representative Jodi Laubenberg, as State Representative Jessica Farrar challenges a practicing OB/Gyn about his belief that abortion should not be performed when babies are found to have non-lethal “anomalies” after 20 weeks post-fertilization (or 22 weeks since last period).
I wonder how of you have heard of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell* in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Most people, whether pro-choice or pro-life, are horrified by the way Dr. Gosnell and his staff treated the babies they delivered both alive and dead.
We also squirm at the intentional killing of children who could otherwise live.
The limit of viability for the unborn, using current medical technology, is 20 to 23 weeks gestation. There have been reports of survivors born before this time. Who will be surprised when the limit moves even farther back? What will history say about us?
In fact, here in Texas, we have made it clear with our Prenatal Protection Act of 2003, spurred on by the deaths of Lacy and Connor Peterson, that our definition of individual (or person) includes all humans from fertilization to natural death.
*(Gosnell is accused of killing the babies who survive, of committing abortions after the legal age limit, and of mutilating the bodies of the babies after they were dead. One gruesome account is here.)
The Committee Substitute was passed this afternoon with 9 yes votes in the House State Affairs Committee. The Chairman of the Committee, Byron Cook voted “yes,” after assuring the Committee that the Bill (which is not available online or in the Committee) will not outlaw human cloning at Universities.
Voting “no” were four brave Republicans – I’ll list them all as soon as I can verify and make sure I don’t miss anyone. Unfortunately, some of our conservative members weren’t present. I will also name them when I can do so without missing anyone.
I worked with Representative Raymond’s office to come up with good definitions, but I don’t know how much of those definitions made it into the final Bill.
Luckily, in spite of the lies we’ve read over the years, no one has yet been able to clone a human embryo.
What is now encouraged is the purposeful creation of a human embryo by cloning. The embryo may never be implanted, but the Bill declares that the nascent human should be killed and broken up
Laws relating to ethics debates are generally behind medical advances. This is good because it means that there *are* medical advances.
However, the debates often become emotional and heated, and the individuals who are affected face real dilemmas and emergencies. When law-making is controversial, it’s best to go back to the basics of ethics for guidance: the inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” the Declaration of Independence, and Constitution.
All laws limit our rights, but good laws strike a balance between seemingly conflicting rights: they are meant to prevent one person from harming another. Most laws prohibit or punish harmful actions, they don’t *compel* a desired action against our will. Nor do they prohibit actions based on thoughts and opinion. In other words, laws prohibit harming or taking from another, but they usually don’t make you protect, nurture or give to another.
However,since the right to life trumps the right to liberty and property, there are very rare circumstances when it is appropriate for laws to compel individuals to act for the benefit of another. Parents are required to care for and protect their minor children. Doctors and lawyers must be licensed, obtain certain levels of education, and follow specific, positive actions when they wish to withdraw from a professional relationship with a patient or client. These laws should only go so far as to protect the life and safety of the vulnerable, for a limited time with the goal of allowing safe transfer of the obligation of the person with more power to someone else.
On Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, under Chair Senator Jane Nelson, heard testimony on two Bills that would change TADA: SB 303 from Senator (Dr.) Bob Duell’s and SB 675 by Senator Kelly Hancock.
The Texas Advance Directive Act of 1999 (TADA), in addition to describing “Advance Directives to Physicians” (a “Living Will), was an attempt to outline the procedure for resolving the disagreement between a doctor and patients or their surrogates regarding end of life care.
When I first read the Act, I (naively) thought it was malpractice protection for doctors who did not want to withdraw or withhold care, such as the Houston Methodist Hospital doctors who invoked the act when they repaired Dr. Michael Debakey’s aortic aneurysm against his previously stated wishes – http://www.theheart.org/article/762619.do – in 2006.
Most of the time, however, TADA is invoked in cases when the attending physician disagrees with a request to actively administer medical treatment that he or she believes is medically inappropriate. The steps laid out in the law involve the doctor’s notification of the patient or the surrogate, rules for assisting with transfer of care to another doctor who believes the treatment request is appropriate, and convening an ethics committee at the hospital. If there is no other willing doctor can be found and the ethics committee agrees with the doctor, the treatment can be withheld or withdrawn. It does not allow patients to be killed by medicines.
Unfortunately, the Act has become known as the “Texas Futile Care Law,” and divides even the pro-life community. One side says doctors and hospitals have too much power and are killing people. While I’ve heard horror stories about doctors who have abused or broken the law, I maintain that there is no “Futile Care Law,” only a difference of opinion as to who should decide what is medically appropriate treatment. In the few cases that have come under the Act, patients and their advocates report trouble finding other doctors willing to provide the treatment the first doctor thought was inappropriate. In my opinion, that difficulty is due to physicians’ common education and shared experiences.
Although TADA lays out requirements for hospitals and hospital medical ethics committees, the fact is that it applies to the “attending physician” who could be forced to act against his conscience. Texas law is clear that only doctors may practice medicine by diagnosing and treating patients directly or “ordering” other medical personnel. These treatments are not one-time events and they aren’t without consequences. They are interventions that must be monitored by observation and tests, and adjustments need to be made so that the treatment is effective and not harmful. Medical judgment is how doctors utilize our education, experience, and consciences as we plan and anticipate the effect of each medical intervention.
Senator Duell’s Bill, SB 303, significantly improves TADA. Among other things, the Bill would add protection of the patient’s right to artificially administered hydration and nutrition, increased access to assistance, records, and time before and after the ethics committee meeting, and prohibits so-called “secret DNR’s.”
Senator Hancock’s Bill, SB 675, focuses on the intentions and motives of the doctor, requiring the medical committee to decide whether the disagreement is due to: “(1) the lesser value the physician, facility, or professional places on extending the life of an elderly, disabled, or terminally ill patient compared to the value of extending the life of a patient who is younger, not disabled, or not terminally ill; or “(2) a disagreement between the physician, facility, or professional and the patient, or the person authorized to make a treatment decision for the patient under Section 166.039, over the greater weight the patient or person places on extending the patient ’s life above the risk of disability.”
Our laws normally prohibit actions and only very rarely compel people to act. Under the conditions laid out in SB 303, the doctor can be forced to act against his conscience and best medical judgment, but only for a limited, stated time. SB 303 improves the Texas Advance Directive Act by protecting the patient’s access to artificially administered hydration and nutrition. It also adds time to prepare for the ethics committee meeting and to transfer care a new doctor. It is an attempt to balance the patient’s wishes for medical intervention with the right of conscience of the doctor. In contrast, SB 675 would attempt to legislate intentions or thoughts, with none of the added protections of SB 303.
Edited 4/27/13 to fix the link to the article about Dr. Debakey and 4/30/13 for grammar and formatting – BBN.
Non-destructive induced Pluripotent Stem Cells used to test new drugs:
Rubin works mostly with iPSCs, derived from real patients. If his lab can develop drugs that they can identify in a screen as candidates that might be useful, they can test them across ranges of patients –many individual patients.
“And that can pretty much only be done, practically speaking, using an iPSC approach,” he said.
“So, as an example, we discovered a compound, something we were excited about for ALS. Kevin Eggan (also at HSCI) and I collaborated to test that compound on 60 different motor neurons in parallel, using a very interesting technology we developed in my lab from live cell imaging which was required.”
What would you do?
Last month, a proposal to establish a U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Center for Excellence in Operational Neuroscience at Yale University died a not-so-quiet death. The broad goal of “operational neuroscience” is to use research on the human brain and nervous system to protect and give tactical advantage to U.S. warfighters in the field. Crucial questions remain unanswered about the proposed center’s mission and the unusual circumstances surrounding its demise. But just as importantly, this episode brings much needed attention to the morally fraught and murky terrain where partnerships between university researchers and national security agencies lie.
Hat Tip to James J. Hughes and the Institute for Emerging Ethics and Technology newsletter
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.
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.
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.
Leon Panetta implied that World War is on the horizon, and that our Pearl Harbor may come in the form of cyber attacks on computers. In the briefing, he pointed to the increasing threat of such attacks from Iran. (Who needs nuclear power, these days?)
National security experts have long complained that the administration needs to be much more open about what the military could and would do if the U.S. were to be the victim of cyberattacks. They argue that such deterrence worked in the Cold War with Russia and would help convince would-be attackers that an assault on America would have dire results. Panetta took the first steps toward answering those critics in a speech analysts said was a thinly veiled warning to Iran, and the opening salvo in the campaign to convince Tehran that any cyberattack against America would trigger a swift and deadly response. “Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests,” Panetta said in a speech in New York City to the Business Executives for National Security. And while he did not directly connect Iran to the Gulf cyberattacks, he warned that Iran’s abilities were growing. Security analysts agree. The presumed Iranian cyberattacks hit the Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas using a virus, known as Shamoon, which can spread through networked computers and ultimately wipes out files by overwriting them.
“Congress must act and it must act now,” he said. “This bill is victim to legislative and political gridlock like so much else in Washington. That frankly is unacceptable and it should be unacceptable not just to me, but to you and to anyone concerned with safeguarding our national security.” Specifically, Panetta called for legislation that would make it easier for companies to share “specific threat information without the prospect of lawsuits” but while still respecting civil liberties. He also said that there must be “baseline standards” co-developed by the public and private sector to ensure the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure IT systems. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 contained provisions that would arguably fit the bill on both of those accounts. While Panetta said that “there is no substitute” for legislation, he noted that the Obama administration has been working on an executive order on cybersecurity as an end-around on Congress. “We need to move as far as we can” even in the face of Congressional inaction, he said. “We have no choice because the threat that we face is already here.”
Keep alert, and your Constitution and anti-virus handy!
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.”
jroger777: So if the #TeaParty fails to show up and the retirees get real excited about voting for Dewhurst then @tedcruz won’t be our next #TXSen (Twitter comment on a poll showing that people over 65 are more likely to vote for David Dewhurst)
By now, we’ve all heard that there’s a runoff race on for Texas’ U.S. Senator Republican candidate. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has received the endorsement of Governor Rick Perry, 18 of 19 Republican State Senators, and the bulk of State-Wide office holders. Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz is backed by many leaders of the “Tea Party,” especially those most interested in controlling illegal immigration. South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint recruited former Texas Solicitor Ted Cruz to run last year and has been campaigning with him this past weekend. We’ve seen the fanfare with Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, and Rick Santorum. A few know that Norman Adams, who masterminded the “Texas Solution” guest worker Plank in the Republican Party of Texas 2012 Platform, endorsed Cruz in the Primary.
But who are the grassroots supporters and what do they say in support of and against the candidates? One way to get an idea is to follow the race, the candidates and their “fans” on the social networking sites. The most popular are Facebook and Twitter. A cadre of supporters of both candidates post on Twitter, gathering together under the “hashtag” (see my “Primer” below) #TxSen, That’s why I’ve been putting the # in the title of most of my posts for the last month or so.
I posted about the news coverage and fallout from one conversation on Twitter back in early June, when Katrina Pierson, founder of Garland, Texas Tea Party and Grassroots Texans Network, and volunteer for Cruz, called former Marine Captain Dan Moran “a deformed disabled vet.”
That was about the time I got wrapped up in Facebook and Twitter – especially Twitter – – okay, addicted to Twitter – political social networking. I also started saving a few of the more notable Tweets sent by the Cruz crowd. (Sometimes derogatorily called “Cruzbots.” I wouldn’t do that. I call them the #CruzClan.)
Unfortunately, the conversation above is not that unusual, except that it got some press. The @DavidHDewhurst fans (voters) tend to be polite and rule followers. In contrast, the @tedcruz supporters follow a different drummer. I’ve argued politics on the Internet for nearly 20 years and have never seen the spite and name calling that comes from the #CruzClan, even when talking to atheists, pro-aborts and RonPaulers. That last statement reads like an incredible exaggeration, even to me, but just watch #TxSen or my “feed” after this blog is published.
The biggest surprise came in the form of questions indicating that some of the #CruzClan might not agree with their candidate, who says he’s pro-life and believes in laws protecting marriage as “one man and one woman,” on “social issues,” such as abortion and marriage. Here are a few examples:
I had a several-day discussion about the Constitution and abortion with this Cruz supporter:
Even with a limit of 140 characters, the discussion followed the same old pattern that all such conversations do.
Wonder how popular Cruz will be with his fans in a couple of years, if he’s elected, but proves more or less Conservative – and effective in the designed-to-be-immovable-Senate than they expect him to be?
If you are reading this on your computer or phone, you have all the skills necessary to be a social networker on Twitter. Join in!
If you want to see – or “follow” – the real time conversation, you have to sign up for Twitter at Twitter.com. (Hint: Pick the shortest name you can, so you don’t eat up the 140 character limit!) If you are interested in a topic or person, enter the word or name in the search box at the top. You can save the search to return to it over and over. You may have to pick the most appropriate result, or find your specific interest as a “hashtag” – subjects that appear frequently enough to form a subheading or group of Tweets – in the list of Tweets given. “Top Conservatives on Twitter” is a good place to start, #tcot. Or #TxSen/#txsen, “Texas Senate” will allow you to follow that subject through the election.
You’ll also see a list of people who tweet about your subject. People are contacted and referred to by @TheirName. I’m @bnuckols.
It often seems that we fight increasing de-volition of traditional human and medical ethics with new technological advances. Here’s evidence that sometimes ethics and the understanding of human dignity can or could advance.
hat would an artificial womb mean? Well,according to this futurist,
In immediate terms, the foundations on which a woman’s rights to choose are predicated in Roe v. Wade, namely the issue of fetal viability and the right to privacy (the right not to be pregnant), will be rendered virtually meaningless. First, once a fetus can be safely and entirely gestated outside of a biological womb, it can be removed from its mother. Second, ectogenesis means that viability starts with conception.
(by Soraya Chemaly, original at RH Reality Check)
I’m reminded of a science fiction story about the need to duplicate the normal intrauterine environment that I read in the 80’s, which ended with the advice, “Use original container.”
However, would we say that or the equivalent to a recipient of a heart or kidney transplant? Or even a diabetes patient?
The interesting argument, here, is that the extra uterine *individual* is recognized as a human being, a being with his or her own humanity.
This is an exciting advance in promoting healing of spinal cord injuries. There are no stem cells – ethical or destructive – involved. This is a new technique using micro-surgery and chemicals to influence healing.
UT neurobiology professor George Bittner, the lead researcher, has spent much of the past 40 years working on solutions to nerve damage. He has come up with a method that had paralyzed rats moving their legs within minutes of treatment and walking within days.
“We are very excited and very optimistic,” said Dr. Wesley Thayer, one of Bittner’s collaborators and an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Vanderbilt University. He said that he expects human trials on the technique within a year.
Trials using the method on the spinal cords of rats are under way at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.
Bittner’s research focuses on newly injured peripheral nerves — the ones outside the brain or spinal cord. When a peripheral nerve is severed by a deep cut or injury, the broken ends begin to close off and seal. But Bittner has developed a technique to interrupt that natural healing process. By using microsurgery and readily available chemicals, including polyethylene glycol, he has been able to keep the nerve endings open and fuse them back together.
“If you completely sever a nerve, the odds of getting anything like full function … are 20 to 30 percent,” said Bittner, 70. “What we have done is solve that problem for rats.”
Bittner also has tested the technique in other animals, including guinea pigs and rabbits, with the same positive results, he said.
This month, Bittner and his team published two articles online in the Journal of Neuroscience Research involving rats who had their sciatic nerve severed. The nerve begins in the lower back and runs down the leg. Within one to seven days, the rats had a dramatic recovery of the functioning of their legs, according to the research.
That improvement persisted over time, Bittner said.
I think I’m so tech-savvy. And then, I hit one little old button and shut down the website for hours.
WingRight is back up after a silly mistake. GoDaddy and WordPress are communicating again. And I won’t mess with critical settings without a lot of research – at least until the next time.
Do we want a big name blogger – one who is nearly a member of the traditional media – named to the CPAC Blogger of the Year? Or do we want a grassroots, self-taught blogger like you and me to represent us?
I know many of the bloggers who will most likely be nominated and would be proud to call them friends, but Sonja Harris better represents me and most of the Pajamas crowd.
EMAIL THIS FORM, FILLED OUT WITH YOUR INFORMATION, TO BloggerAward@conservative.org
CPAC 2012 Blogger of the Year Award
Please submit nominations by COB on Wednesday, February 8
Your Name: ____________________
Your Email Address: ___________________
NOMINEE: ________Sonja Harris, Conservatives in Action_____
Nominee’s Blog Title: Conservatives In Action_____________________
Nominee’s Blog URL: http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/
Nominee’s Twitter ID (if applicable): @SonjaHHarris
Nominee’s Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org_________________________________
Description of Merit:
Self-taught conservative with an email list that is forwarded to over 10,000 readers a week, including Israeli and other international readers. While the e-mail is her biggest effort, Sonja has a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#%21/pages/Conservatives-in-Action/219411951422716 and publishes a blog under the name “Red Sonja” at http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/
She also publishes on TexasGOPVote.com http://texasgopvote.com/users/sonja-harris
Sonja was a volunteer blogger for the Rick Perry campaign in Iowa http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/2012/01/rick-perry-and-iowa-caucus-2012.html , live-blogged the Newt Gingrich/Herman Cain debate in Houston http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/2011/11/cain-gingrich-debate-on-november-5-2012.html ,
and has covered Texas http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/2011/06/medina-valley-hs-class-of-2011-and.html , national and international news.
Please read her coverage of Pro-life rallies, take a look at her photographs of political and social events and her series on art. http://redsonja-conservativesinaction.blogspot.com/2011/02/photographys-place-in-art-art-for-our.html
So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.
CONSERVATIVES IN ACTION
“Just because we don’t regenerate doesn’t mean that we can’t regenerate. It just means that we don’t.”
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.
Transhumanism is a field composed of many interesting mind games (pun intended) but the really great title of this Scientific American review of Connectome, a new book by Sebastian Seung on cutting edge neuroscience, the state of the science behind the Human Brain Project and the transhumanist religion that is adopting it, is what made me post tonight.
Can you remember the last update of the operating system software on your phone or the browser you’re using to read this note? Or did you buy a Windows 7 computer only to find that your year-old wireless printer was not supported? Or – horrors! – have you, like me, found that your entire computer system is no longer “compliant” and won’t be supported by your vendor after a change in Federal law?
If you have a smartphone and have installed “apps,” how many of them are due an update? That software will completely replace your old program which will be removed from your phone’s memory.
Now, just imagine that your consciousness, your whole brain full of connections and thoughts, a program that, according to a certain group of transhumanists, will think, feel and essentially be you.
The idea is to dispose of the fallible human body that inevitably degrades and dies for a program that will live forever.
My experience with technology is that it, too, decays, degrades or comes with bugs and glitches that require constant upgrades with code that may be worse than a human malignancy. And that security programs can themselves be as bad as the hacks and viruses they’re supposed to protect me from.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to beta this one.
This is a wonderful story. I’m very glad for the Representative and for all the patients who receive their own stem cells and have good results. (My granddaughter, at 15 months old in 2001, received an anonymous little boy’s umbilical cord blood after her bone marrow completely failed. More here.)
Someday, I believe we’ll find the stimulating factors that make the body’s stem cells activate the way we want them. In the meantime, this is what our researchers – and Legislators – are finding out about ethical adult stem cells (not destructive embryonic stem cells.:
State Rep. Rick Hardcastle, R-Vernon, participated in a recent round of autologous adult stem cell treatments to help his multiple sclerosis, similar to what Gov. Rick Perry had done in July.
Although the stem cells are not embryonic, doctors in the U.S. are still skeptical of the procedure because it is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Adult stem cells are taken from the patient’s fat, sent to a lab where they are developed, then reintroduced to the patient via intravenous therapy.
The treatments are used to treat patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Hardcastle was diagnosed with MS almost 10 years ago and repeatedly said the treatments worked phenomenally for him.
“I’m walking on water and near bulletproof,” Hardcastle said from a casino in Las Vegas, where he was with his wife for the National Finals Rodeo. “Since I had the third treatment, I have fished in the river in Alaska. I have walked up and down stairs without having to hold onto the handrail like a goon. It’s just been phenomenal so far.”
Hardcastle said just having his balance is an amazing thing because since he was diagnosed, his balance was one of the first things to go. He spoke at length about how easily he was able to walk the stairs at the Las Vegas event.
“Eight years ago, I was having to literally … stop to step over a concrete barrier on a parking curb. I just walk across it now like I did 20 years ago,” he said.
Universal Truth at work again. I would have loved to be there in order to watch heads explode and hear the susurus of “Did he say that?” buzzing around the room.
Newer and safer forms of stem cell therapy will likely overtake research into the use of human embryonic stem cells, the scientist whose team cloned Dolly the sheep told his peers at a stem cell conference in La Jolla.
Direct “reprogramming” of adult cells into the type needed for therapy is gradually becoming a reality, Ian Wilmut told an audience of several hundred at the Salk Institute at the annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. Such a feat was once thought impossible, but in recent years it has been demonstrated in at least two publications, he said.
But it’s been unclear which types of stem cells would prove most useful: the “adult” kind that have a more limited potential to change, or the embryonic kind. The emergence of direct reprogramming provides a promising new option scientists should consider, Wilmut said.
“I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively,” Wilmut said.
It is difficult to achieve purity in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells because they are prone to forming tumors.
Direct reprogramming of cells from one type to the other avoids that danger, because the cells never enter the pluripotent stage to begin with, Wilmut said.
Direct cell reprogramming didn’t exist when California voters approved the stem cell program in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71. That program was mainly aimed at funding embryonic stem cell research the federal government wouldn’t fund.
However, the program can also fund research with other types of stem cells, such as “adult” cells from umbilical cord blood.
The use and value of embryonic stem cells is an intensely controversial issue.
Many people object to their use because human embryos, which they consider human individuals, are killed to get the cells. Critics also point to the success of adult cells in approved therapies, while no therapy with embryonic stem cells has yet been approved.
Only one treatment with embryonic stem cells is in clinical testing in people. And that company, Geron Corp., recently ended its involvement in what was described as a business decision.
“”Siri is doing exactly what it was built to do—provide answers to questions like, “Where can I get an abortion?” using its own algorithms and the online resources it has available to craft answers.
“”Consider the current kerfuffle. This is simplifying things a bit, but the gist of this story is that Siri is getting hung up on a word, “abortion,” because organizations that actually offer abortion services tend not to use the word as much as anti-abortion organizations do. So when Siri goes looking for where to get an “abortion” in the digital wordscape of the Internet, lo and behold, it returns addresses for Crisis Pregnancy Centers rather than Planned Parenthood.””
I’m not sure how I feel about allowing my car to communicate with other cars, but some sort of warning from a monitor at the intersection would be good.
While they’re at it, could someone put out a signal telling the driver the local speed limit? I think the “smart cars” of the future should help us this way.
In order to reduce the number of accidents at intersections, researchers at MIT have devised an algorithm that predicts when an oncoming car is likely to run a red light. Based on parameters such as the vehicle’s deceleration and its distance from a light, the group was able to determine which cars were potential “violators” — those likely to cross into an intersection after a light has turned red — and which were “compliant.”
The researchers tested the algorithm on data collected from an intersection in Virginia, finding that it accurately identified potential violators within a couple of seconds of reaching a red light — enough time, according to the researchers, for other drivers at an intersection to be able to react to the threat if alerted. Compared to other efforts to model driving behavior, the MIT algorithm generated fewer false alarms, an important advantage for systems providing guidance to human drivers. The researchers report their findings in a paper that will appear in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Jonathan How, the Richard Cockburn Maclaurin Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, says “smart” cars of the future may use such algorithms to help drivers anticipate and avoid potential accidents.
“If you had some type of heads-up display for the driver, it might be something where the algorithms are analyzing and saying, ‘We’re concerned,’” says How, who is one of the paper’s authors. “Even though your light might be green, it may recommend you not go, because there are people behaving badly that you may not be aware of.”
How says that in order to implement such warning systems, vehicles would need to be able to “talk” with each other, wirelessly sending and receiving information such as a car’s speed and position data. Such vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, he says, can potentially improve safety and avoid traffic congestion. Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is exploring V2V technology, along with several major car manufacturers — including Ford Motor Company, which this year has been road-testing prototypes with advanced Wi-Fi and collision-avoidance systems.
Just one more failed “stimulus” project? This past week, Geron announced they are no longer pursuing their research in embryonic stem cells. They laid off 66 employees.
The US government should never have been in the business of picking and choosing business winners and losers. We certainly shouldn’t be giving money for destructive embryonic stem cell research.
Included as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the QTDP program provided a tax credit to encourage investments in new therapies to prevent, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic diseases. Companies, such as Geron, that cannot currently use a tax credit were allowed to apply for a cash grant
in lieu of a tax credit.
To be eligible for the program, projects must show reasonable potential to result in new therapies to treat areas of unmet medical need; prevent, detect, or treat chronic or acute disease and conditions; reduce long-term health care costs in the United States; or significantly advance the goal of curing cancer within a 30-year period.
In addition, preference was given to projects that showed the greatest potential to create and sustain (directly or indirectly) high quality, high-paying jobs in the United States, and advance United States competitiveness in the fields of life, biological, and medical sciences.
Projects were selected jointly by the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Geron is getting out of the business of doing Embryonic Stem cell research. Trust me, if there were any objective truth to the idea that destructive Embryonic Stem cells could make money, the Corp. would stay in.
Earlier this week, the Geron Corporation announced it was abandoning its research into using embryonic stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. Geron was the first company to get the green light from the FDA to conduct clinical trials using embryonic stem cells. That was way back in 2009. And now, citing, quote, “capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions,” the company is looking to sell off that part of its business and focus on other work.
Note the pretty “terminating the pregnancy” phrase that’s used instead of aborting the baby (or even the usual term used, “fetus”).
This new test will, indeed “change the conversation about abortion.” This news story, including comments from utilitarian bioethicist, Art Caplan, Ph.D., will move the conversation much earlier into the pregnancy and remind us about the risk to healthy children in healthy mothers from tests for genetic markers. It will also stir the debate on late-appearing diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia and breast cancer.
(Who knows, we might be getting closer to tests for behavioral tendencies or even the “gay gene,” if one is ever found.)
Sequenom doesn’t indicate whether there are false positives or what the accuracy is in women who are not at “high risk” for having a Down’s Syndrome child.
The blood test is accurate in detecting Trisomy 21, the genetic chromosomal abnormality that most commonly causes Down syndrome, 99.1 percent of the time as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy, the San Diego-based company said in a statement. The test, and others that will be able to identify genetic abnormalities early in pregnancies, will alter the debate over abortion, said Art Caplan, director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
“For many people this test makes it morally, emotionally and psychologically easier to have an abortion,” Caplan said in an interview.
Caplan said future prenatal tests may be able to indicate if the fetus had biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, or breast cancer, or other diseases. Those tests will raise questions about what issues will trigger potential parents to choose an abortion. A survey published last month in the American Journal of Medical Genetics showed that only 4 percent of parents with Down Syndrome children regretted having them.
“Ethically, we are now starting to see the shift in the issue of what counts as a medical disorder, what’s significant enough to test for, what’s a genetic disability or just a difference,” he said. “Many in the Down syndrome community would say it’s just a difference.”
Frank Culbertson Captain, USN Retired, the commander of Expedition 3 on the International Space Station, was the only American not on Earth at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
As soon as Culbertson learned of the attacks, he began documenting the event in photographs because the station was flying over the New York City area. From his unique vantage point in space, he recorded his thoughts of the world changing beneath him.
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Association believes that the Texas Medical Board’s review and limitations on adult stem cell treatments is politically motivated.
It does appear that the Board is responding to politics.
“Meanwhile, Stevens believes criticism of Governor Perry’s recent adult stem cell procedure is politically motivated. (Listen to audio report)
The Republican presidential candidate had back surgery July 1, where his own stem cells were removed and injected back into his body. But shortly after, the Associated Press published a story in which several doctors criticized the decision as too “experimental” and “risky.” But Stevens believes those doctors are playing more politics than they are science. He points out that Perry consulted with his orthopedist, Dr. Stanley Jones, who is a well-respected physician.”
The Board heard the proposal on Friday, August 26. The Board would impose Federal regulations and a formal ethics board oversight for “off label” or experimental use of medications or treatments.
We doctors use our judgement at times to treat our patients using medications, procedures and equipment in ways that are considered “off label.” (For instance, the “morning after pill” therapies were at first unofficial use of oral contraceptives, long before Plan B was on the market.)
The Board should adjust their criteria to whether or not the patient gave full, proper informed consent obtained and is the treatment inherently ethical in likely outcome and goal?
Do you really want to frustrate me? Publish an opinion piece online, but restrict comments so that I can’t tell you where you’re wrong. Sure, it’s your site, and you make the rules. Well! Since I have my own blog . . .
The mainstream media has rediscovered Executive Order RP65 that Governor Perry issued in February, 2007. I wrote a “A Dose of Reason, Perry and Gardasil” to answer some of the gobbledygook in the media.
Unfortunately, some of the pundits we normally consider conservative are just as mixed up and fail just as miserably in their research and conclusions.
Michelle Malkin (michellemalkin.com ) won’t take new subscribers or comments from the public at all. She has written a disorganized rant calling Governor Perry “Obama-like.” She claimed that the Governor went over the heads of the Legislature, calls the opt-out clause “bogus,” without researching what it was before the Governor’s EO, and is evidently completely unaware of the funding of vaccines in the US. I was able to comment at the column’s syndication site, Creators.com, copying and pasting my coverage of these concerns in “A Dose of Reason, Perry and Gardasil.”
RedState’s Bill Streiff and Erick Ericson have posted their own articles That site won’t take comments from new subscribers. Ericson reposted his 2007 missive that compared the Executive Order to eugenics and focused on the possibility of corruption due to Merck’s lobbying.
1. The recommendation did not include males, though males can carry and transmit HPV. This oversight made the creation of “herd immunity” impossible. This, definitionally, means the vaccine could have only a limited effect in combatting HPV.
The vaccine had not been recommended for boys at the time. The reasoning is that the vaccine prevented cancer. Society was not ready to talk about anal sex and males having sex with males, so there was a delay in adding boys. Since that time, the recommendations have changed to include boys.
2. Not all strains of HPV linked to cancer were affected by the vaccine. While doing something is better than doing nothing… generally… no one knows what the impact will be of creating a better evolutionary environment for the others strains by eliminating competing versions of the virus.
We knew at the time that the vaccines covered the viruses that caused 70% of cervical cancers (16 and 18) and 90% of the strains that cause genital warts (6 and 11). The preventive effect for these strains was 96% to 100%. according to the British Journal of Cancer article on the 5 year follow-up, published in December, 2006. (It was on-line November, 2006 and I accessed it for review today, August 18, 2011.)
We already had evidence, since confirmed, that there might be some cross-immunity for other strains.
3.Requiring people to receive a vaccine against diseases which they may very well never encounter is a very queasy ethical area. Unlike diseases like measles, whooping cough, etc., HPV is not spread through casual contact.
True. But 50% of people will be infected at sometime in their lives. The true cost is all of those abnormal pap smears – the cellular changes are all – 99.7% due to HPV. It’s also true that we vaccinate for tetanus – what we used to call “lock jaw” – even though it’s not contagious, and for Hepatitis B, which is only spread through blood and body fluids.
4. Clinical trials were conducted on women aged 16-26 leaving everyone to presume that Gardasil was safe and efficacious in 10 year-olds even though there was zero data pertaining to that age group.
Completely false. Both the 2007 Gardasil insert (no longer available online, but I saved a copy on my computer) and the current insert contain information about early testing on boys and girls 9-15. 1122 girls ages 9-15 received the vaccine during trials to test the immunogenicity, demonstrating the production of antibodies.
There. I feel better, don’t you?
The Governor has always opposed unethical destructive stem cell research, but Representative Hardcastle changed his mind on embryonic stem cells and cloning this year.
Hardcastle said the governor’s office didn’t ask him to carry it — as the only member of the Legislature with MS, he said, it’s been on his mind for “a long time” — but one of the governor’s staffers did advise him on it. Somewhat involved, Hardcastle said, was Jones, who has already removed some of Hardcastle’s stem cells to prepare them for re-injection.
A spokeswoman with the Health and Human Services Commission said the agency is in the very early stages of considering whether to create the stem cell bank. A few weeks ago, the agency received a letter from Houston Reps. Beverly Woolley, a Republican, and Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat, expressing their “serious concern” with the measure, for fear it might hinder the work of public and private scientists.
Meanwhile, Texas Medical Board spokeswoman Leigh Hopper said the regulatory agency held a stem cell stakeholder meeting last week — “at the governor’s behest, via Dr. Jones” — to start dialogue about adult stem cell treatments in Texas. The question? If Americans are — like Jones — increasingly flying all over the world to get promising stem cell treatments, shouldn’t Texas be a scientific and economic center for it?