Violence Against Women and Sex Selection Abortion

Wesley Smith at NRO has an interesting article about the vicious gang-rape in India and the possibility that sex-selection abortion might have played a role in it. Sex selection abortions have been the norm in China and India for a few decades. Because of the social pressure to make sons, daughters are often killed before they are born. This in and of itself constitutes are crime against women in the first place, but it has other ramifications and consequences. In societies where men greatly outnumber women, unmarried men commit the majority of the crimes.

From Smith’s post: “Growing evidence suggests that in countries like India and China, where the ratio of men to women is unnaturally high due to the selective abortion of female fetuses and neglect of girl children, the rates of violence towards women increase. “The sex ratio imbalance directly leads to more sex trafficking and bride buying,” says Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. A scarce resource is generally considered precious, but the lack of women also leaves many young men without marriage partners. In 2011, the number of cases of women raped rose by 9.2 percent; kidnapping and abductions of women were up 19.4 percent..” This is a quote from a Time essay by Erika Christakis.

This will hopefully wake us up to unintended consequences of snuffing out human lives before they are born.

John Gurdon Embraces Human Cloning

Wesley Smith has reported that Nobel Laureate John Gurdon, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year with Japanese induced pluripotent stem cell discoverer Shinya Yamanaka, has come out in favor of human cloning.

From the story in the Daily Mail:
‘I take the view that anything you can do to relieve suffering or improve human health will usually be widely accepted by the public – that is to say if cloning actually turned out to be solving some problems and was useful to people, I think it would be accepted,’ he said. During his public lectures – which include speeches at Oxford and Cambridge Universities – he often asks his audience if they would be in favour of allowing parents of deceased children, who are no longer fertile, to create another using the mother’s eggs and skin cells from the first child, assuming the technique was safe and effective.

‘The average vote on that is 60 per cent in favour,’ he said. ‘The reasons for “no” are usually that the new child would feel they were some sort of a replacement for something and not valid in their own right. ‘But if the mother and father, if relevant, want to follow that route, why should you or I stop them?’


Smith then quotes from his magnificent book “Consumers Guide to a Brave New World,” which all my readers to RUN out to buy and read over and over again:

Scientists would have to clone thousands of embryos and grow them to the blastocyst stage [one week] to ensure that part of the process leading up to transfer into a uterus could be “safe,” monitoring and analyzing each embryo, destroying each one in the process. Next, cloned embryos would have to be transferred into the uteruses of women volunteers [or implanted in an artificial womb]. The initial purpose would be analysis of development, not bringing the pregnancy to a live birth. Each of these clonal pregnancies would be terminated at various points of development, each fetus destroyed for scientific analysis. The surrogate mothers would also have to be closely monitored and tested, not only during the pregnancies but also for a substantial length of time after the abortions.

Finally, if these experiments demonstrated that it was probably safe to proceed, a few clonal pregnancies would be allowed to go to full term. Yet even then, the born cloned babies would have to be constantly monitored to determine whether any health problems develop. Each would have to be followed (and undergo a battery of tests both physical and psychological) for their entire lives, since there is no way to predict if problems [associated with gene expression] might arise later in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or even into the senior years.


Smith, in my view, is spot on. Therapeutic cloning will not stop at using cloned blastocysts to make patient-specific embryonic stem cell lines. The reason for this is that even though cells made from differentiated embryonic stem cells can have therapeutic value, such cells can also be rejected by the immune system of the host animal. A much more fail-safe way to do this experiment is to gestate the embryos to the fetal stage and use the fetal tissues.

Once we go down the road of cloning and destroying embryos just to make embryonic stem cell lines from them, what’s to keep us from aborting fetuses just to get their cells? This slippery slope is real and speaks volumes, none of it good, about a society that sacrifices its youngest and more vulnerable members to serve the needs of others. It cheapens human life to the nth degree and at its lowest point, it simple murder.

Gurdon, however, speaks of reproductive cloning to replace children lost through tragedy. While I can appreciate the sentiment, sentiment is an extremely poor reason basis for ethics. Folks, biology is not destiny. Cloning experiments in animals have shown us that even cloned embryos made from material taken from the same mother, that are genetically identical are neither identical to their mothers nor are they identical to each other. Random events that occur during development and the way each individual responds to their environment shapes them in a unique manner. The cloned sheep Dolly was completely unlike her cloned siblings in personality, behavior, or overall appearance. The same can be said for CC (for “Carbon Copy”), the first cloned cat, which looked unlike her mother and had a very different personality.

Yet these cloned children are asked from the second they are born to replace another child who is unlike them. The cloned child is a human person and while the right for each person to be authentically who there are in an inherent right of all human beings, this very right is denied these cloned kids – they are born for the very reason that they can be someone else. This is a violation of everything it means to be human, and it is the very reason no good thing can come from human cloning.

Gurdon is a brilliant scientist, but as we have seen before, great scientists sometimes make terrible ethicists.

Our Dangerous Obsession With Health

Wesley Smith has written a fine column at the First Things “On the Square” site. He draws from another terrific article by Yuval Levine at the New Atlantis. Both of these articles tackle a similar issue and is our society’s unhealthy preoccupation with avoiding any kind of suffering and supply our every whim whether it is good for us or not. We used to be a society that was concerned with cultivating virtue or even justice and equality. Today, if is about our desires and the avoidance of discomfort or suffering of any type.

There is nothing wrong with promoting health, but when health becomes the primary purpose of society, it becomes an excuse for immediate gratification and hedonism. In the words of Levin: “Unbalanced and unmoored from other goods, [health] can become a vessel for self-absorption and for decadence. It can cause us to abandon our commitment to our highest principles, and to mortgage the future to avert the present pain.”

Levin and nailed it in my view. We murder our unborn children mostly because they are a terrible inconvenience to us, and then we murder other children in order for many to give birth to the one kind of child we want at the right time. This is not about justice, it is about hedonism.

If you want two very insightful articles on what ails our bioethical sensibilities, read Smith here and Levin here.

Gardasil: Does it Work and Is it Safe?

Gardasil is a vaccine made by Merck and it stimulates the immune system to recognize and attack various strains of the human papilloma virus.  Human papilloma virus causes warts, but particular strains of it also cause a sexually transmitted disease called genital warts, which are the beginnings of cervical carcinoma.  One-quarter-of-a-million women die each year, globally, from cervical cancer.

This vaccine has been the center of several political and policy debates.  The Gardasil debate has definitely caught the attention of the country. During the Republican presidential candidate debates, on September 12, 2011, candidates Congressman Ron Paul (TX) and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN) attacked fellow candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry for his executive order to mandate the vaccination of Texas school children.  The next day, Congresswoman Bachmann said, on NBC’s Today Show, “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate and tell me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”  As much as I like Michelle Bachmann, that was a pretty astounding statement about this vaccine.

As the father of three girls, two of whom are in high school, believe me, I understand the issue. Parents want to make such significant choices for their families on their own without Big Brother doing it for them. Nevertheless, health care professionals and epidemiologists, who see the 250,000 deaths each year from cervical cancer want to see the herd immunity against human papilloma virus (HPV) to go up so that the carrier rates of this virus will fall. Mandating the vaccination is one way to do that. “Not so fast,” say many parents who have worked very hard to teach their children sexual ethics that are at odds with those of the culture. “We have taught our girls to save sex for marriage and prevented them from being exposed to the oversexed pop culture of modern youth and now you want us to vaccinate them against the rotten fruits of that culture?” It is a fair question.

What gets lost in all this is that the vaccine, Gardasil, made by the pharmaceutical giant Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, does exactly what the company says it does. There have been some movements on the web to discredit Gardasil. For example, The Truth About Gardasil is raising money to make a full-length film about the dangers of Gardasil. Other such campaigns are also found on the web.

On the other hand, journal Nature has summarized the results of the Gardasil trials, Future I and Future II. These trials enrolled 17,600 women across the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific who received the vaccine between December 2001 and May 2003.

The results from these studies are pretty clear and positive. Gardasil, in these women, was 100% effective in preventing genital warts, the precursor to CIN or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. While there were women diagnosed with CIN or AIS (adenocarcinoma in situ), the numbers were too low to draw any firm conclusions. Gardasil was not able to get rid of HPV in women with established infections at the time of injection, which is no surprise, since it is a vaccine and not a treatment.

Gardasil contains a mixture of peptides (polymers of amino acids) from four different strains of HPV: strains #6, #11, #16 and #18. Strains #16 & #18 are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancer cases globally. Strains #6 and #11 cause 90 percent of all genital warts. Therefore, Gardasil contains a mixture of the most troublesome strains of HPV. There are other strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. For example, long-term infections with HPV strains #31 and #45 can also cause cervical cancer. Therefore, Gardasil does not prevent all types of cervical cancer. However, in those women who were vaccinated with it, it seems to prevent cervical cancer, at least over the course of 9-12 years.

If lots of women die each year from cervical carcinoma, then surely we should rejoice that many of these women who have been vaccinated will not contract cervical cancer. Men can also contract penile cancer from HPV. Therefore, this vaccination is also being marketed and given to men as well. Mind you, unchecked promiscuity has plenty of other risks and these risks should not be minimized. However, if some women will not die from HPV as a result of Gardasil, it seems to me that this is a good thing.

What about the side effects of Gardasil that are touted on sites like The Truth About Gardasil? In the Future I and Future II studies, there were no serious side effects reported. This is from a global population of young women. Therefore, the side effects mentioned on The Truth About Gardasil website might be 1) particular to those women, which certainly deserves much more research; 2) unrelated to the vaccine; or 3) related to the vaccine but only tangentially.

Should these side effects be ignored? Not at all. The CDC runs a web site where reactions to Gardasil and all other vaccines are monitored known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). According to this site, there were 12,424 reported adverse events after about 23 million doses of vaccine between June 2006 and December 2008. That’s an adverse reaction rate of 0.054% per dose. Folks, that’s pretty low. Also, if you consider that the vast majority of adverse reactions are really minor (fainting, headaches, sores at the site of the injection that resolve over time), this constitutes a pretty small number of adverse reactions.  The problem is the 32 deaths, but even here, the deaths are the result of embolisms (clots in the bloodstream) and these are caused by other things that are probably not related to the vaccine. The 32 deaths means that Gardasil has a 1 / 1,000,000 deaths per dose rate. This is rate that is so low that is seems very unlikely that the vaccine is causing the deaths, and the proximity of the death to the vaccine is coincidental at best.

Where does this leave us?  The vaccine does what it says it does – prevent cervical cancer from the two major strains of HPV. It is not a cure for it. It is, as far as we can tell to date, safe. The rate of deaths after a Gardasil injection are not higher than immediate deaths in general and that seems to indicate that the deaths are not related to the vaccine. Also, the severe adverse reaction rates are well within the safety levels expected for a good vaccine.

Regardless of your views on whether or not Gardasil should be mandated, you must say that it works and that it is safe. The data support such a conclusion. Therefore, other statements about Gardasil should be about policy and not about the safety or efficacy of the vaccine. Gardasil works and is safe.

For studies on Gardasil, see the following:
1. Future II Study Group N. Engl. J. Med. 356, 1915–1927 (2007).
2. Garland, S. M. et al. N. Engl. J. Med. 356, 1928–1943 (2007).
3. Paavonen, J. et al. Lancet. 374, 301–314 (2009).
4. Future I/II Study Group BMJ 341, c3493 (2010).
5. Munoz, N. et al. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 102, 325–339 (2010).
6. Lehtinen, M. et al. Lancet Oncol. 13, 89–99 (2012).
7. Kreimer, A. R. et al. Lancet Oncol. 12, 862–870 (2011).
8. Donovan, B. et al. Lancet Infect. Dis. 11, 39–44 (2011).
9. Brotherton, J. M. L. Lancet Infect. Dis. (in press).
10. Brotherton, J. M. L. et al. Lancet 377, 2085–2092 (2011).
11. Australia Dept. Health and Aging. National HPV vaccination data for girls aged 15 in 2009. National HPV Vaccination Program (2011).
12. Shearer, B. D. HPV Vaccination: Understanding the impact on HPV disease. (2011).
13. Widgren, K. et al. Vaccine 29, 9663–9667 (2011).
14. Department of Health, UK. Annual HPV Vaccine Coverage in England in 2010/2011.
15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbid. Mortal. Weekly Rep. 60, 1117–1123 (2010).

Disclosure: I own no stock in Merck, and was neither paid by Merck for this article, nor contacted by them at any time in the writing of this article. These conclusions are mine, and therefore, if you disagree with me, please do not call me a paid shrill for Merck because I am not. Instead, please simply address where in the published data you think I have misunderstood, and I will do my best to respond.

Todd Akins and Pregnancy as a Result of Rape

Republican candidate for U.S. Senator from the state of Missouri, Todd Akin, really stuck his foot in his mouth during an interview on the Jaco Report on Fox. After he stated that abortion should be legal to save the life of the mother, the host asked if it should also be legal in the case of rape.

Akin responded: “People always want to try and make that as one of those things, well, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. It seems to me, first of all, that from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment should be of the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Akin issued an apology but the damage is already done. His statement was poorly worded and garbled. He probably meant to refer to a forcible rape, which is also known as an assault rape as opposed to a date rape. He was probably trying to make this distinction since there have been cases whereby women who become pregnant from consensual intercourse have later claimed rape. His wording failed to properly clarify what he meant.

Even worse was his statement that ” the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” Again I think he was trying to refer to the physical trauma experienced by a woman when she is raped. Stress and emotional factors can alter a woman’s menstrual cycle. In order to get pregnant, and stay pregnant the body of the woman must produce a complex mix of hormones. This hormone production is under the control of the brain and the part of the brain that controls reproductive hormones (the limbic system) is easily influenced by emotions. An assault rape certainly qualifies as great emotional trauma. Such trauma can radically upset ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even the nurturing of a pregnancy.

Having said all that, women do get pregnant from assault rapes. Approximately 1 in 15 women who are raped will get pregnant from it (see Statistics on Sexual Violence Against Women: A Criminological Study, 1990). Another article by Holmes, Resnick, Kilpatrick, and Best (Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women) from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1996 Aug;175(2):320-4; discussion 324-5), finds that the national rate of rape pregnancies is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45). This rate is higher because some women who are raped are too old or too young to become pregnant from the rape. Nationally, there were an estimated 32,101 rape pregnancies each year. Only 11.7% of rape victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. 32.2% kept the infant, 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption. 11.8% had a spontaneous abortion.

Thus the statistics show that pregnancy as a result of an assault or forcible rape does occur frequently enough so that pro-life politicians, thinkers and workers must take it seriously. The simple fact is that the baby should not pay the price of his or her life for the crimes of the father. That is the crux of the pro-life position. Abortion as a that ends the life of a baby who is the product of a rape still ends the life of a baby who had nothing to do with the crime still kills a baby. Had Akin put it this way, then he would not have stuck his foot in his mouth the way he did.

There are complications with forcing the woman to be a life-support system for a baby she did not wish to conceive, but the fact still remains that a baby’s life hangs in the balance. In the scheme of things, it seems to me that having the woman bear the brunt of the pregnancy is the lesser of two evils and saving the life of the baby is a greater good.  Trying to be cute about it will only get you in trouble and mark you as ignorant and insensitive to women.

ObamaCare and the Coming Two-Tiered Medical System

John C. Goodman has a fabulous article in the Wall Street Journal about the coming hell that awaits the US when ObamaCare kicks in completely.

Most of the provisions of ObamaCare come online on Jan. 1, 2014. Within a decade of this date, approximately 30 million people more people are expected to acquire health plans. Now research has indicate if people get health insurance and if they are under the mistaken illusion that it is free, they begin to go to the doctor for hang nails and other ridiculous things. Therefore, economic studies show that these 30 million extra people will essentially double their use of the health-care system.

The Obama administration is constantly reminding senior citizens that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Also, in its new woman-centered campaign, women are being told, they will have access to free breast and pelvic exams and even free contraceptives. Yes, once Shangri-La arrives when ObamaCare fully takes effect, we will all be entitled to a long list of preventive services, with no deductible or copayment. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

The problem? Where to start. First, our health-care system simply cannot meet this huge increase in demand for primary-care services. While the original ObamaCare bill contained a line item for increased doctor training, this provision was zeroed out before passage to keep down the cost of health reform. This the entire primary care services entitlement will result in nothing less than gridlock of the worse kind.

Since, according to ObamaCare, health insurance must cover the tests and procedures recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, doctors will be forced to offer these services. Here’s the catch: According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health (2003), scholars at Duke University calculated that arranging for and counseling patients about all those screenings would require 1,773 hours of the average primary-care physician’s time each year, or 7.4 hours per working day. Given the massive amounts of paperwork ObamaCare is going to generate for physicians, there is no way on this green earth that any doctor, nurse or physician’s assistant in going to be able to perform these services for patients.

Health care professionals will spend time searching for problems and talking about the search, and if screenings turn up a real problem, there will have to be more testing and more counseling. Here’s the bottom line: in order to meet the promise of free preventive care nationwide, every family doctor in America would have to work full-time delivering it, leaving no time for all the other things they need to do.

Now if we apply some very basic economics to this situation, if demand exceeds supply in a normal market, prices rises until they price many people out of the market. However, in this case, as in other developed nations, Americans do not primarily pay for care with their own money for health care. Therefore they pay with something else even more precious and that is time.

According to a 2009 survey by medical consultancy Merritt Hawkins, the average wait to see a new family doctor in this country is just under three weeks. However, in Boston, Massachusetts, which enacted near-universal coverage under Gov Mitt Romney, the wait is about two months.

How long it takes you to see a doctor is a non-price barrier to medical care, and there is substantial evidence that it is even more important in deterring care than the fee the doctor charges, even for low-income patients.

If people cannot find a primary-care physician who will see them in a reasonable length of time, all too often they go to hospital emergency rooms. However, a 2007 study of California in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that up to 20% of the patients who entered an emergency room left without ever seeing a doctor, because they got tired of waiting. Under ObamaCare, this situation will certainly worsen dreadfully.

Economics again: if demand exceeds supply, doctors much more flexibility to see whomever, whenever. Therefore, they tend to see those patients first who pay the highest fees. For example, a 2008 New York Times survey of dermatologists uncovered an extensive two-tiered system. Patients in need of services covered by Medicare waited 2-3 weeks to see a doctor, and the appointments were made by answering machine. For Botox and other treatments not covered by Medicare for which patients pay the market price out-of-pocket, appointments to see those same doctors were often available on the same day, and made by live receptionists.

Physicians will increasingly need to jealously protect their time in order to make a proper living. Therefore, patients in plans that pay below-market prices, which include the elderly, disabled on Medicare, low-income families on Medicaid and people with subsidized insurance acquired through the ObamaCare exchanges, will wait the longest. However, the wait time will only get longer and longer as more and more Americans turn to “concierge medicine” for their care.

Concierge medicine differs from region to region and doctor to doctor, but it generally refers to patients who pay doctors to be their agents, rather than the agents of third-party-payers (e.g. insurance companies or government bureaucracies).

As an example, a Medicare patient can pay $1,500 to $2,000 to form a new relationship with a doctor, and this relationship includes same day or next-day appointments. It also usually means that patients can talk with their physicians by telephone and email. The physician helps the patient obtain tests, make appointments with specialists and in other ways negotiate an increasingly bureaucratic health-care system.

This spells trouble for ObamaCare, since a typical primary-care physician has about 2,500 patients, according to a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When that same physician opens a concierge practice, he’ll typically take about 500 patients with him, according to the MDVIP, which is the largest organization of concierge doctors. That’s about all the doctor can handle, given the extra time and attention those patients are going to expect. What about the 2,000 patients left behind? They must find another physician. Therefore, as concierge care grows, the strain on the rest of the system increases.

It is not difficult to predict what happens next. As concierge medicine rapidly grows, every senior and non-senior who can afford one will have a concierge doctor. The rest who cannot afford the cost will not. This we will quickly switch to a two-tiered health-care system, in which the rich get fast, high-quality care, and the poor wait forever for low-quality care.

This will leave us with a vulnerable population that will have less access to care than they had before ObamaCare became law. All because the president and the dunderheads in Congress do not understand that incentives matter or even the first rule of economics.

Illegal Kidney Trade Booms as New Organ is ‘Sold Every Hour’

Illegal kidney trade has risen to an estimated 10,000 black market operations annually. Most of these operations involve the use of purchased human organs, and at this rate, more than one operation occurs an hour, according to the World Health Organization.

The evidence for this come from data collected by a worldwide network of physicians, and these data show organ traffickers are defying those laws intended to curtail their activities. Instead these traffickers are cashing in on the increasing international demand for replacement kidneys, which is driven by the increase in diabetes and other diseases.

Wealthy patients will go to China, India, or Pakistan for surgery and will pay up to $200,000 (~£128,000 for you across the pond) for a kidney. Unfortunately, these payments often go to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000. This makes organ trafficking a very lucrative business. Traffickers and surgeons will take great risks to make such large sums of money. This is well illustrated by the arrest of 10 people, including a doctor, suspected of belonging to an international organ trafficking ring. According to the Israeli police, there is evidence that these suspects are also guilty of extortion, tax fraud and grievous bodily harm. Similar illicit organ trafficking rings have been uncovered in India and Pakistan.

A British newspaper known as The Guardian contacted an organ broker in China who advertised his services under the slogan, “Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad!” This particular broker offered £2,500 for a kidney and said the operation could be performed within 10 days.

The resurgence of trafficking has prompted the World Heath Organization to suggest that humanity itself is being undermined by the vast profits involved and the division between poor people who undergo “amputation” for cash and the wealthy sick who sustain the body parts trade. Luc Noel, a doctor and WHO official who runs a unit that monitors trends in legitimate and underground donations and transplants of human organs, said, “The illegal trade worldwide was falling back in about 2006-07 – there was a decrease in ‘transplant tourism.’” But he added: “The trade may well be increasing again. There have been recent signs that that may well be the case. There is a growing need for transplants and big profits to be made. It’s ever growing, it’s a constant struggle. The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there.”

A complete lack of adequate law enforcement in some countries, and the absence of sufficient laws to protect the vulnerable in other countries, mean that those offering financial incentives to poor people to part with a kidney have it too easy, Noel said.

Kidneys make up 75% of the global illicit trade in organs, Noel estimates. Rising rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems are causing demand for kidneys to far outstrip supply. WHO data shows that of the 106,879 solid organs known to have been transplanted in 95 member states in 2010 (legally and illegally), approximately 73,179 (68.5%) were kidneys. WHO also noted, however, that those 106,879 operations satisfied just 10% of the global need. WHO does not know how many cases involved the organ being obtained legitimately from a deceased donor or living donor such as a friend or relative of the recipient, but Noel believes that one in 10 of those 106,879 organs was probably procured by black marketeers. If so, that would mean that organ gangs profited almost 11,000 times in 2010.

Proof of illegal trafficking is being collected by networks of doctors in various countries known as “custodian groups”. These groups are working to support the Declaration of Istanbul, the 2008 statement against global organ exploitation that was agreed by almost 100 nations. Made up of hospital specialists who treat patients with end-stage kidney failure who survive on dialysis, and surgeons who operate on those lucky enough to get a new kidney, the groups monitor reports of black market activity in their own country or involving compatriots abroad.

A medical source with knowledge of the situation said: “While commercial transplantation is now forbidden by law in China, that’s difficult to enforce; there’s been a resurgence there in the last two or three years. Foreigners from the Middle East, Asia and sometimes Europe come and are paying $100,000 to $200,000 for a transplant. Often they are Chinese expats or patients of Chinese descent.” Some of China’s army hospitals were believed to be carrying out the transplants, the source added.

The persistence of the trade is potentially embarrassing for China. The health ministry in Beijing has outlawed organ trafficking and has also promised to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners by 2017, a practice that has brought international condemnation.

John Feehally, a professor of renal medicine at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust, said: “Since the Declaration of Istanbul the law on trafficking has been changed in the Philippines – which was one of the centers of transplant tourism – and the Chinese government realizes that things have to change.” Feehally is also president of the International Society of Nephrology, which represents 10,000 specialist kidney doctors worldwide. “Trafficking is still continuing – it’s likely that it is increasing,” he said. “We know of countries in Asia, and also in eastern Europe, which provide a market so that people who need a kidney can go there and buy one.”

The key issue, Feehally said, was exploitation. “You are exploiting a donor if they are very poor and you are giving them a very small amount of money and no doctor is caring for them afterwards, which is what happens.  The people who gain are the rich transplant patients who can afford to buy a kidney, the doctors and hospital administrators, and the middlemen, the traffickers. It’s absolutely wrong, morally wrong.”
Noel wants countries to defeat the traffickers by maximizing the supply of organs from deceased and living donors, and encouraging healthy lifestyles to delay or prevent people getting those conditions such as diabetes in the first place.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Vetoes Commercial Surrogacy Bill

Because this is a biotechnology/bioethics site, it is entirely appropriate for us to discuss the subject of commercial surrogacy. This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have relaxed New Jersey’s strict surrogate parenting law. He said that his state had not yet properly addressed what he called the “profound” questions that surround creating a child through a surrogacy contract.

Gov Christie made a statement that explained the reasons behind his veto: “Permitting adults to contract with others regarding a child in such a manner unquestionably raises serious and significant issues. In contrast to traditional surrogacy, a gestational surrogate birth does not use the egg of the carrier. In this scenario, the gestational carrier lacks any genetic connection to the baby, and in some cases, it is feasible that neither parent is genetically related to the child. Instead, children born to gestational surrogates are linked to their parents by contract. While some all applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of the family that this bill will enact. I am not satisfied that these questions have been sufficiently studied by the Legislature at this time.”

I personally applaud Gov. Christie’s veto. Commercial surrogacy employs a gestational carrier who carries the baby for another couple. When the gestational carrier gives birth to the baby, she is paid a prearranged sum of money for her services and for the transfer of her parental rights to the contracting parents.

Since the gestational carrier is being paid to surrender her claim to the child, it seems very clear to me that commercial surrogacy is baby selling. Any argument that tries to redefine what the payment to the gestational carrier is for seems, at least to me, to be inaccurate at best and dishonest at worse. Commercial surrogacy is baby selling and a society that values children should not be in the business of baby selling. Furthermore if we are truly dedicated to the proposition of the value of each human being not matter what their age, socioeconomic status, or gender, then no one regardless of their should be sold. It is degrading and debasing to the humanity of the person and to all people for that matter.

Altruistic surrogacy seems to me to be a different matter. It is not baby selling because the gestational carrier is only paid for her medical expenses. There is no payment for the exchange of parental rights and there is no baby selling.

While many infertile couples have contracted with women to carry their babies, and have received to blessing of a children, I cannot agree with the means by which that child was acquired.

Wall Street Journal Opines on FDA and Stem Cells

Scott Gottlieb (physician) and Coleen Klasmeier (attorney) have penned an excellent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that tasks the FDA for their unbending regulatory caprice and unwillingness to adapt to the new advances in medicine. It is definitely in line with what Centeno has been saying for these long years. Read it here.

They are reasonable troubled by the DC court’s uncritical acceptance of the FDA’s arguments and note:

“The FDA has repeatedly sought to blur the line between manufacturing medical products and practicing medicine whenever new techniques emerge. But the standard for regulation isn’t whether the agency feels a technique is novel but whether it meets the definition of being a medical product.

Federal regulators have stretched that definition to the point where a reasonable limit no longer exists. The law provided a clear impediment to unrestrained exercise of FDA authority. Something needed to be an “article”—not a medical procedure—in order to become a drug. The constraint that a drug needed to be a “thing” has been read out of the law by FDA, and the district court appears to have accepted that position.

If the FDA’s victory is upheld on appeal, then conceivably nothing done as part of clinical practice is beyond the agency’s reach.”

They also sadly note:  “Most of the science of using adult stem cells for regenerative medicine is unfolding in Britain, Singapore and Israel precisely because of the FDA’s bent to hold with misgiving anything novel in medicine.”  Reform the FDA.  To do that we need a new president.

Centeno Responds: Part 2

In the last post, we saw that the FDA’s illegal fast-track approval of Genzyme’s cell-based Carticel product as a drug set a precedent that cells had to be treated as drugs and any cell-based therapy had to go through the extensive, expensive and invasive approvals for other types of pharmaceuticals.

This move put the kibosh on the development of cell-based therapies, since such therapies would have been massively expensive.

Centeno thinks that the FDA’s move stifled a potential renaissance in American medicine that would have been on par with the discovery of antibiotics. This might be a severe overstatement, but it seems clear to me, at least, that the FDA’s move did slow down the development of cell-based therapies.

Professional societies were no at all pleased with this regulatory move, since it would slow down the availability of therapies for patients. For example, te Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents 30,000 cancer specialists, sent a letter to the FDA on August 10, 1998 that read: “A striking aspect of the FDA’s proposal to regulate stem cell procedures is the virtual absence of any justification for the initiative. The principal “concerns” previously cited by the FDA in support of the new regulatory apparatus are preventing the transmission of communicable diseased and assuring that stem cell procedures are safe and effective.”

Certainly, these are valid concerns, but the letter continued: But, the FDA has adduced no evidence whatever to suggest that communicable diseases are presently being spread through stem cell procedures, or that stem cell transplants are unsafe or ineffective. Instead, the FDA has proposed to subject physicians and facilities performing stem cell procedures to an extraordinarily burdensome and restrictive regulatory regime based solely on theoretical issues.”

Wow! In other words, “your concerns are not real.” Furthermore, “you have no evidence to document your concerns and they only exist as possibilities.” In other words, according to these cancer specialists, the FDA created a policy to fix a problem that did not exist.

Certainly, the FDA could make the argument that the regulation guarantees that such problems will not pop up anytime soon, this misses the point of regulation – to address actual problems and not imaginary ones.

At this point Centeno makes a horrible historical blunder when he mentions the “Bush Administration’s ban on embryonic stem cell research.” For the umpteenth time, “THERE WAS NO BAN ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.” There I got that out. There was a moratorium on the use of federal funds for research that derived new embryonic stem cell lines, since such work required the destruction of human embryos. Private funding could fund such work, and embryonic stem cell research that used already established, approved ESC lines was eligible for federal funds. In the meantime, work on adult stem cells advanced during this time and some treatments became available.

Centeno thinks that drug companies supported by universities wanted to offer embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vials, which would be administered and approved by the FDA in the way any drug would. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, came from the patient’s own body, and therefore, had a rough time fitting into this paradigm. The FDA, therefore, decided the alter the wording of a statute to include adult stem cells.

21 CFR 1271 regulations allowed any cells that came from a patient’s own body (autologous) to be regulated as a transplant or not at all. Therefore, any competitor of Genzyme could simply use their adult stem cell procedures without going through the lengthy and extensive approval process. It also meant that physicians, who are not directly regulated by the FDA, could start their own stem cell procedures without any FDA oversight.

The FDA however, solved this problem by altering one word in the statute from “into another human” to “into a human.” This change was apparently made without the public comment period required by the law. Even though this change seems minor, it means that cells from your own body cannot be placed into you without the FDA’s approval. In this manner, the FDA inserted itself into the lives of doctors.

Mary Ann Chirba, J.D., D.Sc., M.P.H. at the Boston College Law School gave the FDA a screen-full when she used her keyboard to critique the FDA’s language change. She said of this regulatory change that “in revising §1271.3(d) without the benefit of public input, the FDA has fashioned a regulation that imposes real and extensive burdens on patients and providers while achieving little if any benefit — at least with regard to low-risk, autologous adult stem cell therapies.” Not everyone is taking this change lying down.

One point Chirba makes is quite telling. She notes that the FDA has no such regulatory strategy when it comes to in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapies for infertile couples. IVF involves the harvesting of oocytes (eggs) from the presumptive mother and sperm from the presumptive father, the use of these cells to achieve fertilization in the laboratory, culture of the embryos outside the body, and then reintroduction of the cultured embryo into the mother’s body. Note the similarities of this treatment with autologous stem cell treatments – retrieval of cells from the patient, culturing the cells to make something different, but related to the originally harvested cells, and then the transplantation of those cells into the patient. The similarities are uncanny except that the FDA regulates autologous stem cell treatments but not iVF. Confused? Maybe you should be, because I am too.

If the FDA regulated IVF, they would achieve little in the way of safety, but the cost of the procedure would explode (however, the embryos might be better protected, but the FDA seems little concerned with human embryos these days, but that’s for another post).

The contradictory nature of this regulatory change has generated some terrific contradictions. For example, the FDA does not regulate bone marrow transplants, and in some cases, umbilical cord blood is used for such therapies instead of bone marrow.  By 2009, there had been 15,000 cases of umbilical cord blood transplantation, and cord blood was saving lives and was relatively unregulated by the FDA.  Then in 2009, the FDA changed tack and decided that cord blood was a drug and required approval.  Cord blood “drugs” received approval in 2011, but nothing changed with regard to its safety profile and use.  First it’s not a drug then it is; what’s up?

Another example is fat tissue used by plastic surgeons.  Plastic surgeons have been using fat for transplantation for years without FDA approval, but now, according to the FDA, is the fat is broken down in any way before it is reintroduced, then it is a drug.  Your own fat is now a drug!  Ridiculous?  You bet it is!  Then there is Cytori Therapeutics who have designed and manufacture a machine that isolates fat-based stem cells from fat.  According to the FDA, this machine manufactures and drug and must be vetted like a drug.  The machine is approved in Europe, but not in the US because the FDA is too busy sending warning letters to Cytori telling them to cease and desist unless the almighty FDA tells them they can proceed.

There are also some genuine tragedies that come with this stunt pulled by the FDA.  For example, Allosource and Parcell Laboratories process cadaver bone for bone transplants.   However, because the bone contains stem cells, according to the FDA, they are making a drug and require the huge piles of money it takes to receive FDA approval.  Then there is Provenge, a revolutionary treatment for prostate cancer that takes white blood cells from your own body and then reprograms them in culture to attack the prostate cancer.  Thanks to the excessive regulation of the FDA, one dose of Provenge costs $93,000.  Then there is the very sad case of Reprogenesis, who made a stem cell-based treatment for children with Vesicoureteral Reflux or VUR.  Even though the treatment uses the patient’s own stem cells to build a new urinary valve in the ureter, the FDA said that they were making a drug and needed approval for it.  Reprogenesis went bankrupt thanks to the FDA and children with VUR do not have that therapy.

If this sounds nuts, that’s because it is.  Don’t get me wrong, we need the FDA and we need an agency to safeguard the safety and efficacy of the medicines we take, but the FDA is working on a model that is 3-4 decades out of date.  American medicine is missing the renaissance in science because of overregulation and unwise regulation.  It needs to change.


Centeno Responds to The DC Court Decision: Part 1

The DC court case that ruled that cells = drugs upheld an injunction placed upon Regenerative Sciences by the FDA to not provide their Regenexx-C treatment unless they sought official FDA approval. Dr. Centeno, one of the major shareholders in Regenerative Sciences and its chief spokesperson, who also developed many of the treatments used at the Colorado clinic, has responded to the court ruling and the FDA in an ebook entitled “The Stem Cells They Don’t Want You to Have.” In our next few posts, we will discuss his response.

According to Centeno, in this country, there are two layers of regulation for medical procedures, treatments, and devices. Federally, the FDA has device and drug laws that they enforce. Their laws dictate what drugs and devices are approved and the clinical uses of these drugs a devices. Secondly, each state has regulations that direct the practice of medicine within their borders.

The FDA regulates those drugs and devices that are used throughout the nations and across state lines. Physicians, however, are not regulated by the FDA. This is an important point, because the FDA does dictate how the physician practices medicine. The state regulates the practice of medicine within its boundaries, but the FDA regulates the drugs and devices used across state lines. These two layers are regulation are meant to provide checks and balances to the regulation of medicine.

The importance of these checks and balances is that the physician is meant to do whatever is necessary to save your life, improve your health, or reverse a particular illness. The FDA does not have to like it, but they do not traditionally have the authority to do anything about it.

The FDA, however, has tried in the past to buck this system. For example, there is a practice in clinical practice known as “off-label” usages of drugs. Such usages involve prescription of a drug for a malady for which the FDA did not provide approval. For example, proton, pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, for acid reflux disease, have been prescribed off-label because some physicians have noticed that they can quell severe diarrhea. Why they would do this is unclear, but it is the observation that they do. Therefore they are prescribed for such purposes. The FDA is not always alright with that, and in 1978, in United States v. Evers, the FDA sued Dr. Ray Evers for his use of calcium disodium versenate, a drug normally used in metal poisoning, as a treatment for arteriosclerosis. The court found for Evers in this case even though the weight of expert opinion was against the efficacy this drug as a treatment of arteriosclerosis. The Evers case established the ability of physicians to prescribe drugs off-label. In the words of Centeno, the court “preserved as sacred the right of your doctor to prescribe any drug in any way to save your life.”

The FDA, however, is not happy with this arrangement, and has been seeking ways around it. In the 1990s, the FDA attempted to crack down on pharmacies and physicians that “compounded” drugs. If a patient has a medical need that is not met by the available formulations of medicines, then the physician may ask to pharmacy to modify the formulation or combine it some other component. For example, if a medicine is pelleted with a tablet that contains gluten but the patient does not tolerate gluten, then the doctor can ask the pharmacist to prepare a gluten-free version of the medicine. Alternatively, if the patient is an infant and extremely low doses are required for a particular drug, then the doctor may ask the pharmacist to cut the drug with something else to lessen the dosage, or produce very tiny dosages in the traditional form. The FDA attempted to add a section to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to regulate compounding, but they were defeated after a consortium of compounding pharmacies sued the FDA.

In the 1990s, when cells were used to treat patients, the FDA tried a different tact, since it seemed unlikely that they could properly regulate cells. After all, cells are neither drugs nor medical devices. This came to a head in 1995 when Genzyme began to culture the cartilage cells from patients to make a product known as Carticel. Carticel consisted of a patient’s own cells that had been cultured outside the body. Then they would give the cultured cells to a surgeon for implantation into the knee. How could these be regulated as a drug?

The FDA was concerned because culturing cells could introduce animal viruses into them or some other contaminant that could harm people. Therefore, there had to be some way to regulate this product in order to safeguard the health of patients. As you can see, the FDA are not monsters. They do want to help patients, but they are simply overstepping their bounds, according to Centeno.

Back to Carticel. Initially one division of the FDA had granted Genzyme clearance to market Carticel as a medical device. However, another branch of the FDA called the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research or CBER told Genzyme that they had to have full and clear FDA drug approval in order to market Carticel.

What could Genzyme do? Without FDA approval, they were stuck, but getting FDA approval would require years and millions of dollars. Why FDA required drug approval for something that was not a drug was a mystery, but Genzyme was in no mood for a brawl with the FDA. They had a promising technology, but without approval, they could not sell it, and if they did not sell it, another company would pick up the technology and make it work with the FDA.

Therefore, Genzyme made a deal with the FDA. CBER wanted to call the cell drugs, but they ran into lots of opposition from powerful opponents: The Red Cross, The American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Society for Reproductive Technologies, and the BioPharma Association. According to Centeno, a Genzyme lobbyist told the FDA that they had to regulate cells, otherwise, Genzyme would have no way to protect its investment. The FDA acquiesced with the proviso that it would fast-track Carticel if the FDA was able to regulate cells as drugs.

It was this “Midnight deal,” according to Centeno, that paved the way for the FDA to call cells drugs and regulate them accordingly. Carticel was approved in nine months when the regular time for drug approval was seven years. There was a problem with this fast-track approval: The 21 CFR 601 statute was meant for the approval of drugs for treating critically ill patients. Carticel did not meet this requirement, which makes the use of fast-tracking in this case illegal.

As a result of this deal, other drug companies that developed or were developing cell-based therapies simply fell in line behind Genzyme and went through the FDA process for drug approval of their non-drug-based therapies.  FDA drug approval became, in the words of Centeno, the “gold standard” for cell base-products.

An evaluation of this situation will be discussed in a later post.

Letter from a Nurse With MS – FDA’s Cells = Drugs Hurts People

At the Regenexx Blog site is a letter from a Registered Nurse who has Multiple Sclerosis. The drugs for MS do little to stop the progression of the disease and they have remarkably bad side effect. On top of that they are very expensive. Despite some exceedingly robust results with animals models with a form of MS and stem cell treatments, and human clinical trials with a patient’s own mesenchymal stem cells, the FDA has yet to budge because according to your FDA cells = drugs and they get to regulate them into the ground.

This letter from the nurse really nails it on the head and shows how the FDA’s policy is a) crap, and b) actively hurting sick people. Read about it here, and then write your Congressperson.

Obamacare: The Aftermath

Since many have asked my what I think about Obamacare and the recent Supreme Court ruling, I thought that I might provide my views on the topic.

In the first place, the law is obviously unconstitutional. The federal government cannot compel you to buy something. There is simply no universe in which someone can read our Constitution and come to the conclusion that the Constitution gives the government that power over its citizens.

Secondly, if Obamacare is a tax, then the lawsuit before the Supreme Court would have been dismissed, because according to the Anti-Injunction Act Donald Verrilli argued before the Supreme Court that the individual mandate is NOT a tax. However, in order to find the bill constitutional, Roberts had to treat it as though it was a tax. But wait a minute. The Anti-Injunction Act says that you cannot contest a tax bill until the tax is paid. Therefore, if Obamacare was a tax, then the case should have been dismissed til the tax was collected. Thus for the sake constitutionality, Obamacare is a tax, but for the sake of litigating it, it is not a tax. Roberts tried to have it both ways, but he can’t. This is the reason why legal pundits all over the US are troubled by Robert’s garbled, self-contradictory opinion. If this was a principled ruling then why did it make no internal sense.

Third, Obamacare is unworkable. In the words of Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal, Obamacare is “upheld and doomed.” The problems with Obamacare are four-fold and they are :

1. Taxes

Besides being a massive federal power grab, Obamacare contains one of the largest tax increases ever imposed on the American economy. These tax increases come at a time when job growth should be the nation’s number one priority.. The tax sections of Obamacare begins with an increase in the Medicare payroll tax of 0.9 percent for individuals with incomes above $200,000 ($250,000 for couples) in 2013. Needless to say, this tax will depress the demand for labor at a time when job creation is critical in order to for jump-start the economy. Some might think that this tax will not hit the middle class because of the relatively high initial income thresholds, but they are wrong. These income thresholds were purposely not indexed to inflation. Therefore, as the years pass, more and more middle-income families will cross the thresholds because of normal wage growth.

Obamacare also includes an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income; a new 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices that will reduce the size of the industry. It also includes taxes on the drug and insurance industry that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums; and a tax on high-premium insurance plans that will also be passed on to consumers.

2. Deficits and Debt

Obamacare will exacerbate our nation’s already alarming entitlement spending and debt crises. The dramatic rise in spending on Medicare and Medicaid already is pushing the federal budget to the breaking point. Obamacare makes the problem much worse since it adds two new additional entitlement programs in the form of a massive Medicaid expansion and a new premium credit entitlement for households with incomes between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. These two entitlement expansions are expected to add a minimum of 35 million Americans to the entitlement rolls when phased in, at an expense of more than $200 billion annually by the end of the decade (CBO, Letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, March 20, 2010, Table 4.).

Obamacare was sold by means of offsetting cuts in Medicare that supposedly would pay for it. Unfortunately, the Medicare cuts have been exposed as unrealistic because they would result in Medicare paying even less for medical services than Medicaid does today. (John D. Shatto and M. Kent Clemens, “Projected Medicare Expenditures Under Illustrative Scenarios with Alternative Payment Updates to Medicare Providers,” Office of the Actuary, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, May 18, 201). This would severely jeopardize seniors’ access to care. Even worse, the offsetting cuts were made, the savings are double-counted under Obamacare, and are used once to pay for future Medicare commitments that are today counted as unfunded governmental liabilities, and then a second time to supposedly cover the costs of Obamacare’s entitlement expansions (Charles Blahous, “The Fiscal Consequences of the Affordable Care Act,” The Mercatus Center of George Mason University, 2012). Since money cannot be used twice, Obamacare will add hundreds of billions of dollars in new debts this decade, and trillions over the longer term (James C. Capretta, “The Medicare Trustees’ Report and the $8.1 Trillion Double-Count,” The Weekly Standard Blog, April 24, 2012).

3. Individual Mandate

The individual mandate hands immense regulatory power to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to Obamacare, HHS controls just about every aspect of the nation’s health system. In January 2012, the Administration announced that it planned to use that power to impose new benefit requirements on all employer-sponsored insurance in the name of “preventive health services” (now frequently termed the “HHS mandate”).

Additionally, the regulations issued by the Administration in this regard would require all employers, including religious employers such as Catholic hospitals and universities, to cover abortifacient products, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures in the health plans they offer to workers. By requiring all employers to offer these products and services in their health insurance policies, they would directly violate the religious liberty rights of thousands of religious institutions around the country.

4. The Bureaucratic Micromanagement of American Health Care

The bulk of Obamacare is based on the theory that the federal government has the capacity and know-how to micromanage American health care. This is the basis for the provisions that establish an unaccountable and unelected board—the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—to oversee all aspects of how Medicare is run. It is also the theory behind Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are authorized in Obamacare to give the federal government a new role in influencing how doctors and hospitals are organized to deliver care to seniors.

Unfortunately and contrary to socialistic preconceptions, the government is NOT adept at micromanaging how health care or any other aspect of people’s lives. When the government is given this much authority and discretion, it does not result in higher-quality care for patients. Instead, it leads to price controls and one-size-fits-all regulations that misallocate resources and lead to access problems. Obamacare compounds the problem since it creates massive new and costly bureaucracies at the federal and state levels of government that will become permanent and unresponsive centers of power. The IRS and HHS will grow. A new agency in HHS is slated to spend $10 billion supposedly testing new ideas, but already there is indication that the money is being wasted on projects driven more by politics than substance.

Obamacare is also pours hundreds of millions of dollars into the states to coax them into building the “exchanges” that will become the foundation of the Obamacare edifice. These exchanges, far from fulfilling the supposed mission of fostering a dynamic marketplace, will be the means by which the federal government will extend its reach to every corner of the health sector. Every American who does not obtain his or her insurance through an employer will have little choice but to go through Obamacare’s exchanges.   It will only be a matter of time before the federal government uses its new powers to impose even more top-down cost controls on the health system, to the detriment of the quality of American health care.

Obamacare is a disaster. Had the Supreme Court ruled properly, we would be out of this mess, but as it sits now, repeal – complete and total repeal – is the only answer.

Infanticide Advocate Peter Singer is Awarded Australis’s Highest Civic Award

Princeton University’s Professor of Ethics Peter Singer has been appointment as a Companion of the Order of Australia (he is a native Australian). I will not mince words on this one. This is a new low for the government of Australia. Here are some of the things Singer has advocated:

He is best known for ethically endorsing infanticide. According to Singer, people are not human persons unless they can do certain things. This is called functionalism, and it leads people to regard certain human beings as being in a class of “human non-persons.” For example, Singer does not think humans reach “full moral status” until after the age of two. He supports non-voluntary euthanasia of human “non-persons” fo0r any reason. Not liking the color of their eyes, they cry too much. they pooped on your carpet, they threw up on your nice clothes, they are a girl and not a boy. Mind you, this is the same chap who gets all choked up about the use of animals in research because is multiples animal suffering. Instead of appealing to the more noble aspects of human nature, where we exercise those properties that make us truly human (compassion, defending the weak and defenseless), Singer would have us eat our young the way brute beasts do. Furthermore, he would commend us for it. We used to demarcate between barbaric societies and civilizations that did such things. Now we have become the barbarians, but according to Singer, that’s just fine.

In keeping with this disgusting, misanthropic philosophy, Singer supports using cognitively disabled human beings in medical experiments instead of animals. The laboratory animals, you see, have a higher “quality of life” according to Singer. How does he know that? Well they can do more. They can walk, groom themselves, feed themselves, and defecate without anyone’s help. The mentally disabled person it still essentially a person, but Singer doesn’t let that get in the way. People who cannot do are not people any more. They might even be trapped inside a body that no longer works, but Singer does not let that get in the way either. As far as he is concerned, person is as person does. He forgets that must BE something to eventually DO something. He has gotten the cart before the horse and we have abortion on demand, euthanasia in Holland and Brazil as the result of it.

Singer has also defended bestiality. These are, according the Singer, “mutually satisfying activities” between humans and animals should not be opposed. Now, pray tell, how does Singer know that the animal is enjoying it? Is he also Dr. Doolittle and can talk to the animals? This is disgusting. We used to think such people were sick in the head (not to mention to horrific sexually transmitted diseases you can get from such activities), but Singer thinks they are just alright.

Singer started the “Great Ape Project.” This project would establish a “community of equals” among humans, gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans. The day one of those creatures asks me for admission to such a project, I will think about it, but for now, they are too busy killing each other in the wild and spreading their feces all over each other to care about it.

Singer has also questioned whether “the continuance of our species is justifiable.” Do we need any more evidence of his own self-loathing?

Finally, Singer believes “speciesism” — viewing humans as having greater value than animals — is akin to racism. Oh, just between you and me, racism is a HUMAN concept. Bringing animals into it is a category mistake of the first degree. Humans are exceptional among the creatures of the earth. We and we alone are the stewards of the earth and its resources. The animals don’t give a rip about such things and it is not even on their cognitive radar. Human exceptionalism is the basis of human law, human rights, and everything from property values, antislavery movements, anti-genocide activities and so on. Without human exceptionalism, we become no better than the animals.

Singer’s philosophy is perverted. It takes what is profane, disgusting and devilish, and calls it morally upright. It is the result of misanthropy and self-loathing and he wants use to hate ourselves as much as he hates himself. His philosophy produces a society that is unworkable and objectionable in every way. He should not be rewarded, but derided.

Mifepristone – Not as Safe a Drug as you Might Think

According to data released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the abortion pill, mifepristone, more than 1.2 million unborn children have lost their lives because of it, but even more stunningly, thousands of women have been injured and this includes more than a dozen who have died in the United States alone.

Just after the approval of mifepristone during the Clinton administration, the FDA released a report in 2006 that showed that more than 1,100 women had been subjected to “adverse effects” after taking mifepristone.  Pro-life advocates have waited five years for the FDA to come out with a new report of the adverse effects associated with this drug.  This drug seems to continue to kill and injure women all across the globe.

Mifespristone, which is marketed under the trade names Mifeprex and Korlyn, is still known by the name given to it when it was an experimental drug, RU486.  Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid drug that binds to the progesterone receptors in cells in the endometrium and prevents the progesterone receptor from receiving signals from progesterone.  Because the endometrium requires constant progesterone signaling to maintain itself, mifepristone causes the endometrium to breakdown.  It also causes the cervix to soften and induces the release of mo9lecules called prostaglandins.  These prostaglandins causes the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract, but mifepristone, also increases the sensitivity of the smooth muscle of the uterus to prostaglandins.  The breakdown of the endometrium and the contractions of the uterine smooth muscle cause the embryo to detach.  This eventually kills of all sources of progesterone production in the mother’s body, and the embryo dies.  Typically, mifepristone is followed by an oral prostaglandin (misoprostol) to increase uterine smooth muscle contraction and expulsion of the dead embryo.  Mifepristone is used to terminate pregnancies that are not older than 49 days.  The approval of mifepristone did include a Black Box Warning, as required under Subsection H.

There are several excellent articles about this FDA data.  Read about it here, here and here.  Mifepristone also has caused problems in women all around the world.  These data in this report is limited to adverse effects in the United States only.

Sex-Selection Abortion is taken up by the US Congress.

A recent poll shows that 77% of Americans are opposed to sex-selection abortion. This is the real war against women. Sex-selection occurs, for the most part, because couples do not want a little girl. This odious practice is being targeted by the Prenatal Nondescrimination Act. While this act might pass the House, it will probably die in the Democrat-dominated Senate.

The President is indicating that he is against this legislation. He is too far into the pockets of Planned Parenthood to support this legislation.

This act should be passed.  Abortion because the baby is female is horrific.  As David Bass puts it:  “pro-choice ideology claims to place the highest value on women and womanhood. Yet they are forced to accept, as both moral and legal, the aborting of an unborn baby strictly because she is female. To do anything less would violate their core beliefs about the un-personhood of the fetus and the absolute autonomy of the parents (specifically, the mother) in deciding whether to terminate the unborn life.”

Pro-choice advocates want abortion at any cost and for any reason, but sex-selection abortion is what we get when we allow abortion for any reason.  Murdering women because they are women is the ultimate misogyny, and defending it is complicity with such misogyny.  This simple fact of the matter is that pro-choice advocates are not pro-choice, they are pro-abortion.  See the following articles by David Bass at the American Spectator see here, and here.

Update – June 1, 2012 Wall Street Journal reported that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act failed to pass the House.

Half of all Americans are Pro-Life

The Gallup Pole’s new numbers have shown that at least half of all Americans, which includes, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, are pro-life. This does not mean that 50% of all Americans think that abortion should be illegal, but that enough of them think that abortion is immoral enough to call themselves as pro-life.  This suggests that the pro-life movement has gone from fringe to mainstream.  It may not be too long before enough Americans view abortion as immoral so that it becomes a restricted practice, and is permissible only under particular circumstances.

See Wesley J Smith’s article about it here.

Dick Cheney’s Heart Transplant

Because people have asked me to comment on the Dick Cheney heart transplant, I thought I would make one entry about it. Readers of this blog will recognize that I have very conservative leanings when it comes to subjects such as politics and health care. Also, the organ transplant waiting lists are local and federal. The decision to put someone on the organ recipient list is a decision that is between the patient and their physicians. I do not think the government has any right to intercede in the decision because it is a private decision. The shortage of organs can be addressed in other ways, but it seems to me that rationing by the government is simply wrong and contrary to the founding principles of our constitutional republic.

Having said all that, Cheney waited 20 months to receive his heart, and he was given no special treatment. You can argue that a younger person should have received this heart, but why? Cheney waited his turn. His age was, in his doctor’s opinion, not an important factor. Therefore, we should go with his doctor and not some bureaucrat.

Nevertheless, the best story on this comes from the inimitable Wesley Smith.  Read his view here.  It says it all.

Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

According to the publication New Scientist, estimates by the Israeli medical profession postulate that there have been at least 600 ‘wrongful life’ lawsuits since the first case in 1987. A ‘wrongful life’ lawsuit occurs when the parents of a child with some kind of developmental abnormality or genetic disease sue the doctors who helped birth the child in the name of the child. The lawsuits allege that had the parents known about fetus’ severe genetic problem, they would have chosen to terminate their pregnancy.

“Wrongful life” claims are generally brought by the children, or much more typically, parents acting on behalf of the children.  Essentially, the lawsuit specifies that the children are suing for the right to have never been born.  They are suing doctors for NOT putting them to death. According to an article in BioNews, the psychological implications of such lawsuits on the children named in them have been noted by several medical ethicists.  Professor Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, commented: “I find it very difficult to understand how parents can go on the witness stand and tell their children ‘it would have better for you not to have been born. What are the psychological effects on the children?”

Now in the state of Oregon, a “wrongful life” lawsuit in Portland was put forward involving a Down syndrome child. According to the newspaper, the Oregonian, in June 2007, Ariel and Deborah Levy were excited by the birth of their daughter, when then experienced profound shock and anger when hospital staff told them their daughter had Down syndrome.  When asked if she had had a prenatal test in the form of a chorionic sampling test, Mrs. Levy answered in the affirmative.  Unfortunately, the results showed that they were going to have a normal, healthy child.  Several days after being born, a blood test confirmed that the Levy’s little girl, Kalanit Levy, had Down syndrome.  Therefore, the Levys filed suit against legacy Health, claiming that they would have aborted the pregnancy if they had known that their daughter had Down syndrome.  The Levys say that they “dearly love their daughter, who is now 4 years old, but they want Legacy to pay for the extra life-time costs of caring for her, which are estimated to be about $3 million.

With all respect to the Levys, but this, “We dearly love her but would have killed her before she was born” schtick does not wash.  What if she learns that her parents brought this case.  Doctors cannot guarantee outcomes.  We do not have a right to a particular child and no one should have to be legally declared wrongfully born.  If the jury has any sense in this matter, they will throw this case out.  It is a clear-cut case of chasing deep pockets with a detestable premise.