Hilary White

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Pro-life world debating Nobel Prize for adult stem cell breakthrough

Hilary White
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October 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life advocates are debating the awarding of the Nobel Prize for medicine to Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the discoverer of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, with some outright condemning the work and others calling it a boon that will advance ethical medical technology.

In 2007, Yamanaka, a researcher at Kyoto University, published a paper in the journals Nature and Stem Cell announcing that his team had created embryo-like stem cells from the skin cells of mice. The process he developed, using a set of four genes to re-program the cells, was hailed around the world as a possible solution to the unethical use of living human embryos to obtain “pluripotent stem cells” – i.e. cells that can be induced to become any type of tissue in the body.

Until this discovery, the scientific world was largely convinced that adult stem cells were limited and only embryonic stem cells could be malleable enough to produce the many different tissue types needed for medical applications. 

At the news of the announcement from the Swedish Nobel Prize committee, on October 8th, American Life League (ALL) were quick off the mark with a press release condemning the award. The pro-life organization touted the virtues of adult stem cells, while raising concerns about the source of the genes that are being used to re-program the cells. Some pro-life critics have observed that Yamanaka’s team used the now infamous HEK 293 cell line, which was cultured from the kidney cells of a child aborted in 1971, in their research.

“With such complex subject matter, we call for vigilance,” said ALL. “Technical language and prestigious prizes will not hide the truth. To encourage the murder of preborn human beings in order to facilitate scientific research is unethical and criminal.”

Pro-life opinion, however, appears to remain divided, and with Yamanaka’s work being the most cutting-edge of the day, is likely to remain so for some time. While American Life League was condemning the work, E. Christian Brugger, the Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, wrote in the National Catholic Register, “Most any science can be used wrongly, especially if it’s used in ways that harm or destroy human life.

“But since the production of pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells by reprogramming need not involve bringing into existence, experimenting upon or destroying human embryos, iPSC research in itself seems to me to be morally unproblematic.”

Dr. David Prentice, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, and former professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, also came out in support of Yamanaka’s research, while adding the caveat that the “gold standard” is still adult stem cell research, with adult stem cells already being successfully used in a variety of treatments.

Meanwhile, some pro-life bloggers strongly criticized Yamanaka for using HEK 293, a stem cell line sold by biomedical suppliers and used widely in the field of biotechnological research. Although the use of the cells in medical research is condemned as unethical by pro-life ethicists, some have argued that the principle of “remote cooperation with evil” by can be applied to the use of treatments and vaccines developed with HEK 293 cells. In February 2009, Bishop Robert Vasa, a strongly pro-life Catholic bishop in Oregon, issued a statement saying that the use of vaccines developed with HEK 293 can be permissible for Catholics to use with the right intention, given the distance in time, or “remoteness,” between their development and the abortion of the child.

Rebecca Taylor, a Technologist in Molecular Biology MB(ASCP), who writes the pro-life Mary Meets Dolly bioethics blog, condemned the use of HEK 293 in Yamanka’s research, but added that she believes “iPSCs themselves are not inherently immoral.”

“Cell lines of illicit origin have been used in developing this technology (and unfortunately are used ubiquitously in many areas of research), and it is the use of those cell line to which we should object, not the iPSCs themselves,” she said.

Dr. Yamanaka’s work has long been welcomed in the broader scientific community as both a major scientific advance, and a way to move beyond the contentious debate over embryonic stem cells. Dr. Ian Wilmut, the cloning expert who created Dolly the world’s first cloned sheep, told British media in 2007 that the discovery would put an end to attempts to create cloned embryos to obtain stem cells which had been problematic for both ethical and practical reasons. He said he would be giving up cloning experiments and instead following up on Dr. Yamanaka’s work

Some pro-life experts were cautiously supportive at the time, saying that more time was needed to examine Dr. Yamanaka’s methods to ensure that unforseen problems did not develop. Dr. Dianne Irving, a bioethics expert at Georgetown University, told LifeSiteNews.com in 2009, “If it can be shown that the research is truly accurately performed and does not involve the use of embryo DNA or foetal material at any stage, then it should be at least given a chance.”

Further examination of the techniques, she said, was required to ensure that the iPS technique does not result in the creation of totipotent stem cells, that is, those that can develop into an embryo. She also was cautious about the use of HEK cells.

Yamanaka’s own explanations of his motives have apparently been mixed. At the time his discovery was published in the journals Nature and Stem Cell, Yamanaka urged other researchers not to stop using embryos for research. However, at the same time, he told the London Times in an interview, “Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary. I’ve never worked with either.”

In a New York Times interview in 2007, he described looking at an embryo through a microscope at a fertility clinic, “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters. I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”

Professor Yamanaka said in 2006 that it was the ethical question that most motivated him to discover the secret to creating pluripotent stem cells from a differentiated cell coming from a patient, a technique that also resolved the immune response problem.

His achievement was hailed this month by Julian Savulescu, director of Oxford University’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a utilitarian bioethicist who has vehemently supported the use of living human embryos for research. Savulescu told National Public Radio in the US, “Yamanaka has taken people’s ethical concerns seriously about embryo research and modified the trajectory of research into a path that is acceptable for all.”

“He deserves not only a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but a Nobel Prize for Ethics.”

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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Federal judge strikes down Nebraska’s marriage law

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

LINCOLN, NE, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Homosexual activists celebrated another victory Monday as U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon once again ordered the state of Nebraska to stop enforcing its marriage protection amendment, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Bataillon, who was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, struck down the amendment when it was first challenged by gay activists ten years ago, but his decision was overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now that gay activists have challenged the law again, the judge has issued a new ruling barring its enforcement, citing the recent string of federal court victories by supporters of same-sex “marriage.”

Bataillon said laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples unfairly discriminate based on “archaic” and “outdated” gender stereotypes.  

“[Nebraska’s Marriage] Amendment explicitly creates a classification based on gender because a person's eligibility to marry, or to have his or her marriage recognized, is based on the gender of the individuals seeking to marry,” Bataillon wrote.  “[It] is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”

The judge rejected the state’s assertion that the citizens of Nebraska, who approved the marriage amendment in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote, should be the ones to make any changes to the societally accepted definition of marriage.

“The Amendment is not somehow insulated from review because it was enacted by a significant majority,” Bataillon wrote.  “Minorities trampled on by the democratic process have recourse to the courts; the recourse is called constitutional law.”

Bataillon also rejected the state’s argument that traditional male-female marriages deserve special protection because they are the natural, ideal environment in which children are conceived and raised.

“With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children,” the judge wrote. “Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.”

Bataillon condemned the state’s prohibition of adoption by same-sex couples as “particularly harmful” and “constitutionally repugnant.”

“The State's supposed purpose in channeling children into stable relationships is not served by a same-sex marriage ban,” Bataillon wrote.  “It is both underinclusive in that it allows heterosexual people to have and rear children in unstable or abusive situations and at the same time prevents committed and stable same-sex couples from adopting and providing loving homes to children.”

“The policy has no rational connection to the State's purported purpose of strengthening families and, in fact, it thwarts that purpose by denying deserving children a stable home.”

In conclusion, the judge ordered state officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and granting full marital benefits to same-sex couples who “married” outside the state, writing: “All relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.”

Homosexual activists praised Bataillon’s ruling Monday, with the Nebraska ACLU calling it “a day for celebration.”

One of the homosexual plaintiffs in the case, Tracey Weitz, said she and her lesbian lover were taking the ACLU’s words to heart. “I think we'll have a bigger party than we did when we were married,” she told KETV.

But others were not as pleased with the decision, including state officials and some religious leaders.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children,” Roman Catholic Archbishop George Lucas and Bishops James Conley and William Dendinger said in a joint statement. "Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife."

“Because [Bataillon's] decision undermines the fundamental human right of every child to know, and as far as possible, be united with his or her mother and father, we pray for a just resolution in higher courts."

Bataillon made his order effective March 9, to give state officials a week to appeal.  Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, and Attorney General Doug Peterson immediately sought to overturn the ruling, filing a request for an emergency injunction with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,” Ricketts said.  He said he and Peterson intend to keep up the fight to “uphold Nebraska's Constitution and the will of the people of our great state.”

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San Diego’s new bishop champions ‘seamless garment’ theory: poverty on same moral level as abortion

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By Hilary White

ROME, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ latest episcopal appointment in the United States, to the Diocese of San Diego, is a bishop known as a champion of leftwing political causes under the rubric of the “seamless garment” theory, placing abortion and euthanasia on the same moral level as immigration and poverty.

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Bishop Robert McElroy, currently an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco, will replace Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

The liberal Jesuit magazine America, with whom McElroy has a long and friendly relationship, was effusive at the appointment, calling McElroy an “advocate for the poor” and the appointment by Pope Francis “highly significant.” America’s Gerard O’Connell called McElroy “one of the intellectual heavyweights in the American hierarchy” who has “wholeheartedly embraced the vision and pastoral approach of Pope Francis.” He replaces Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died of cancer last year.

In a 2013 interview with O’Connell for La Stampa’s Inside the Vatican magazine, McElroy called poverty the “preeminent” issue for the Catholic Church, and complained, “In recent years, the conference of bishops has labeled abortion and euthanasia as the preeminent issues in the political order, but not poverty. This has had the effect of downgrading the perceived importance of poverty as a central focus for the Church’s witness.”

He added that the US bishops’ focus on issues of “intrinsic evil” like abortion, has distracted them from the fight against “structural sin” that is normally cited by the Church’s far-left as the cause of poverty. “I think that both issues should be intertwined in the Church’s approach to advancing the common good in the political order because I believe that it is compassion which morally unites these two issues – compassion for the suffering of the poor and compassion for the unborn.”

“I still am a believer in the underlying logic of Cardinal Bernardin’s seamless garment approach that saw all life issues as part of a continuum linked by the Catholic notions of compassion and justice.”

He made explicit his belief that the life issues are on an equal par with prudential matters like just war theory and immigration reform in a column for America the same year. Pope Francis’ “teachings demand a transformation of the existing Catholic political conversation in our nation, a transformation reflecting three themes: prioritizing the issue of poverty, focusing not only on intrinsic evils but also on structural sin, and acting with prudence when applying Catholic moral principles to specific legal enactments,” he wrote.

To truly be a “church for the poor,” the Catholic Church “must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues.”

McElroy has also joined the left-leaning majority of US Catholic bishops in refusing to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In a 2005 column for America, he called the proposal “partisan,” “Republican,” and “coercive.”

McElroy conceded that the existence of “pro-choice” Catholic politicians represents a “major failure in Church life,” but added that the suggestion that such people have excommunicated themselves “casts aside all the limitations and admonitions to pastoral solicitude that the church has traditionally demanded.” Repeating a favorite phrase of many US bishops, McElroy said that Americans “recoil from the use of the Eucharist as a political weapon.” 

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David F. Prentis

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Contraception gave us divorce and gay ‘marriage’ and will destroy us: here’s how

David F. Prentis
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March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Although there has always been contraception, its acceptance and practice by society as a whole is a relatively new phenomenon. In the first part of the 20th century barrier methods became through mass production increasingly used. However, with the advent of the hormonal contraceptive pill in the 1960s the contraceptive era, ushering in the sexual revolution, really took off.

The term “revolution” is by no means exaggerated, for the result was a fundamental change in the understanding of human sexuality in society. With the pill, people thought, nothing can happen, i.e. no child could be conceived. Inhibitions broke down, so that there was an increase in adultery, living together before marriage and living together with no thought of marriage. Amoral sex education with the message, “You can do anything you like so long as your partner agrees and you use contraception. If there is an accident, have an abortion,” promoted sexual promiscuity from puberty onwards. Sexual activity has been degraded into a form of entertainment.

The immediate consequences of promiscuity starting in adolescence are obvious: the rampant increase of sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and the incapability of forming long-term relationships through frequent changes of partners and repeated disappointments.

The assumption that “nothing can happen” is erroneous, because contraceptives are by no means 100% effective. Children are conceived, and such “errors” must be corrected – the child is aborted.[1] The result has been devastating: the number of babies killed by abortion every year is about the same as the total number of deaths in the whole of World War II.

Apart from the carnage, enormous havoc is created in the relationship of the parents, whether married or not, very often leading to its breakdown. It would also be naive to imagine that Catholic women never resort to abortion.

The situation of couples practising NFP however is quite different. They are aware every day of the state of their fertility, asking themselves whether the marriage act on that day would result in conception; they do not lose sight of the child who could be conceived. They do not forget the fundamental purpose of the act. An unplanned child is therefore usually accepted.

The widespread practice of abortion leads to euthanasia. If it is acceptable to kill one category of people, then it is logically acceptable to kill others, specifically the ill, the handicapped and the old, for human life is no longer sacred. A chilling example of this kind of development can be seen in the National Socialist regime in Germany.

The pill “culture” leads to the rejection of children, small families, and a demographic winter. In the long-term it will be impossible to pay pensions. For couples practising NFP however, the child is neither an error nor a threat. Their natural love of children is not destroyed. They have larger families. The 15 teaching couples in our organisation, for example, have 62 children so far, an average of 4.1 per family.

The separation of sexual activity from child-bearing leads to the acceptance of the production of children through assisted reproduction without recourse to the marital act in the case of infertility. Through IVF society is being led, inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, to the acceptance of controlled reproduction. Human beings are reduced to products. They are mass produced, selected, rejected, frozen or used in experiments. They are treated as material goods, in short, as slaves.

Slavery has been formally reintroduced into society. A doctor, whether mixing sperm and eggs in a Petri dish or injecting a sperm into an egg, is playing God. The arrogance of it! Surely this modern sin should be listed amongst those which cry to heaven.

When the practice of sterilised sexual intercourse is accepted, it leads logically to the acceptance of all practices leading to orgasm: oral, anal, homosexual acts, etc. The whole homosexual movement has become possible only through the general acceptance of contraceptive practice and the reduction of sexuality to a source of entertainment.

The practice of contraception within marriage contains within itself the mutual rejection of the spouses. It leads to the destruction of love. It belongs to the nature of love to give oneself, even to the point of sacrifice, seen eminently in the self-sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Even in our ordinary life a mother’s sacrifice of herself for her child is by no means exceptional. A mother will naturally go to great lengths to help her child, exceptionally even giving up her own life. The marriage act is meant to be an act of mutual love. The natural fruit of that love is the child. The spouses give and receive each other mutually completely. Even during the naturally infertile days of the cycle they give each other all they have at that time – their mutual love.

But if they use contraception they say to each other subconsciously, “I do give myself to you, but without my fertility, and I don’t want your fertility either.” Is that love? The act which in its nature expresses the total self-giving and receiving of the spouses contains an element of rejection, and therefore becomes a lie. When this act of rejection is systematically and continually repeated, love dies. The marriage is at least burdened. Many marriages break down.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Couples who use NFP do not practise this subconscious, systematic rejection. From personal experience and observation of our clients we see that such marriages are more stable. This is also shown in studies. Greater stability is evident even in those without religious practice. [2]

Contraception, which leads logically to other evils as described above, is destroying society. There are too few children and nations are dying out. It leads to abortion, as those who promote it concede. The combination of promoting promiscuity through Godless sex education, the long-term use of hormonal contraception with back-up abortions and the postponement of child-bearing leads to increased infertility.

The solution offered is not a true therapy of infertility, but assisted reproduction which bypasses the normal process of transmission of life through the marriage act. The long-term purpose of this policy could well be the desire to subject reproduction to state control, which would allow only those children to be born who pass quality control. At present this is illusory, but the tendency can be seen. It would appear that an elite group wishes to create a society of virtual slaves obedient to their desires. A new totalitarianism is being formed.

To this end it is necessary to destroy or at least weaken marriage and the family. For this purpose contraception, especially the convenient hormonal forms, is eminently suitable. And those who pour their millions into the homosexual movement and the gender ideology are not concerned with helping homosexuals and those with problems of sexual identity. Rather they are using these people to extend the concept of marriage and ultimately to widen its meaning so much as to make it meaningless.

 


[1] Baklinski, P, Two-thirds of women seeking abortions were using contraception: Britain’s largest abortion provider, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/two-thirds-of-women-seeking-abortions-were-using-contraception-britains-lar

[2] Wilson, M.A.: The Practice of Natural Family Planning versu the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual and Moral Issues, Catholic Social Sceince Review, Volume VII, November 2002.

Rhomberg, W., Rhomberg, M, Weißenbach, H.: Natural Family Planning (NFP): The Symptothermal Method (Rötzer) as a Familiy Binding Tool. Results of a Survey among Members of INER, 2008, http://www.iner.org/files/02_anwenden/Download/NER%20Survey%202008%20Cathol%20Soc%20Sci%20Rev.pdf

 

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