Life Advocacy Briefing

May 5, 2008

Locking the Barn Door / Quiet Victory / Army to Undertake Stem Cell Research
Abortion? No Thanks! /Sex Ed At Issue in Congress & Campaign

Locking the Barn Door

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ) HAS FILED LEGISLATION to outlaw the hybridization of human beings with animals.

“The legislation is timely,” notes John-Henry Westen in, “as researchers are already tinkering with human-animal hybrid technologies. British scientists,” he reports, “are actively perfecting the hybrid technique” and claim, reports the BBC quoted by Mr. Westen, to have “‘created part-human, part-animal hybrid embryos for the first time in the UK.’”

The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act makes it “unlawful” to “create or attempt to create a human-animal hybrid, transfer or attempt to transfer a human embryo into a non-human womb, transfer or attempt to transfer a non-human embryo into a human womb or transport or receive for any purpose a human-animal hybrid.”

The legislation calls for imprisonment up to 10 years and provides for a civil fine “of the greater of $1 million and an amount equal to the amount of [any] gross gain multiplied by 2.”

Congressional findings listed in the bill state, among others, that “advances in research in technology have made possible the creation of human-animal hybrids” and that such chimeras are “grossly unethical because they blur the line between human and animal, male and female, parent and child, and one individual and another individual.”

The bill’s “findings” section also cautions, “With an increase in emerging zoonotic infection threatening the global public health, human-animal hybrids present a particularly optimal means of genetic transfers that could increase the efficiency or virulence of diseases threatening both humans and animals,” already threatening human beings, notes LifeSiteNews, through such infections as “bird flu” and “SARS.”

All to say, this legislation is urgent and should be treated with greater seriousness and unanimity than the disgusting manner in which Congress has failed to deal with the threat of human cloning.

HR-5910 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is co-sponsored by GOP Representatives Rick Renzi (AZ), Duncan Hunter (CA), Doug Lamborn (CO), Mark Souder (IN), Mary Fallin (OK) and Joseph Pitts (PA). Readers are urged to contact their US Representatives to ask them to add their names as co-sponsors (or to thank those listed above who have already subscribed to the bill). Lawmakers may be contacted through the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.


Quiet Victory

THE U.S. HOUSE LAST WEEK PASSED the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, sending it to the President on a vote of 414 to 1; the measure had earlier cleared the Senate 95 to 0.

“GINA,” as the bill is commonly known, seeks to protect people from discrimination by employers or insurers based on adverse genetic information or diagnosis.

With prenatal genetic testing becoming common, such discrimination threatens even unborn people and their families.

That’s where the “pro-life” victory comes in. Quietly, persistently, patiently, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) worked, largely behind the scenes, to ensure that unborn children and those being adopted would be covered.

“In the Energy & Commerce Committee,” notes a memo from a key Capitol Hill source, “Rep. Stupak and his staff worked diligently to address the full scope of the pro-life concerns.  Mr. Stupak intended to offer an amendment,” reports this aide, “but in anticipation of the mark-up, [he] worked closely with the Majority staff on the committee. In the end,” states this memo, “Rep. Stupak was able to come to an agreement with Chairman [John] Dingell [D-MI] to include his language in a broad amendment including a variety of topics and offered by Chairman Dingell. The Stupak language remains in the bill as it passed the Senate and the House,” reports the aide. “The language included states that genetic information covered by GINA includes the genetic information of a ‘fetus’ or ‘embryo.’

“The amendment also adjusts the definition of family member,” notes the aide, “to include children who have been placed for adoption as well as children who have been adopted.” The original bill’s definition of family members protected referred to those born to the family.


Army to Undertake Stem Cell Research

AS OFTEN HAPPENS DURING WARTIME, the Pentagon is investing in medical research which will likely eventually aid the civilian population and is intended initially to help servicemen and -women injured on the battlefield. The $250 million research initiative will span five years and will explore therapeutic use of an injured serviceman’s stem cells to “stop scarring, rebuild tendons and grow bones,” reports Family News in Focus (FNIF).

“‘[Battle-injured] young men and women give a very important part of their lives,’ said Col. Bob Vandre of the Army’s Medical Research & Materiel Command,” quoted in the FNIF story. “‘They give their bodies, essentially, and are wounded protecting our country.’”

The Army’s research initiative will add to the growing body of research showing effectiveness in the therapeutic application of adult stem cells ethically and safely derived from various body tissues to treat a remarkable range of diseases, injuries and conditions.

Dr. David Prentice, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for life sciences, noted the contrast between the “track record” of adult stem cells, reports FNIF, and stem cells harvested from sacrificed embryonic human beings. “‘There’s such an obsession in the US with embryonic stem cells,’ he said” in the FNIF report. “‘About all embryonic stem cells have done is make tumors in rats.’”


Abortion? No Thanks!

April 25, 2008, BreakPoint with Chuck Colson, copyright Prison Fellowship Ministries

In mid-April, Italian voters returned former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to power. Election post-mortems focused on what Berlusconi would do about the economy, crime and Italy’s illegal immigration problem.

Just about the only thing that was not discussed was an issue that figured prominently in the campaign: abortion.

“Abortion to play a prominent role in Italian elections” was the headline of an Associated Press [story] only two months ago. A contemporaneous New York Times story told readers that the abortion issue was at the “center of the Italian electoral campaign.”

And only a week before the Italian elections, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that the “abortion issue [was] back” in Italy and Spain.

All of these stories described the mounting political and cultural challenges to the 1981 Italian law legalizing abortion. Now, Berlusconi’s spokeswoman on family issues proposes a new abortion law restricting abortion only to the first trimester – and then, only in “really justified cases.”

Then there is the case of Giuliano Ferrara, whom the New York Times says “combines the political theatrics of an Abbie Hoffman with the rhetorical flair of a William F. Buckley.” A former Communist, Ferrara now edits a conservative newspaper called Il Foglio, “The Sheet.”

Ferrara used his paper and talk show to advocate a moratorium on abortion and “to call attention to the value of life.” He then ran for Parliament on the “Abortion? No Thanks” slate.

This is not the first time Ferrara has bucked conventional secular wisdom. His paper has also supported the Catholic Church on matters like bioethics, relativism and the decline of the Christian faith among Italians – this despite the fact that Ferrara is an atheist.

While Ferrara insists that he is a “nonbeliever,” other Italian politicians, as Britain’s New Statesman put it, “have been eagerly declaring their Christian credentials.” According to the publication, this eagerness is a response to what it calls the “crucial change” in Italian life since 2001: “the collapse of every grand political idea.”

Given this “crucial change” and the response to it, the failure to even mention abortion in the electoral post-mortems stands out. It reminds me of the Spanish government’s response to a pro-family rally last December in Madrid that drew a reported two million people. Instead of reconsidering its policies, the government demanded an apology from the Catholic Church.

Not surprising, I suppose, European elites cannot contemplate that secularism, like every other “grand political idea,” has been found wanting – without, at the same time, acknowledging what is for them unthinkable: Europe’s Christian roots.

Yet what is happening in Italy and Spain, as well as the rest of Europe, suggests that many Europeans are now finding “grand political ideas” a poor substitute for faith. A strong Euro and generous government benefits are small consolations for societies, which the New York Times says are “steeped in death and decline.”

The remedy for that is respecting the value of life, which starts with saying “Secularism? No thanks.” Maybe the Italian elections give hope for Europe after all.


Sex Ed At Issue in Congress & Campaign

April 29, 2008, commentary for Illinois Family Institute by Fran Eaton, editor, newsblog

Despite political pundits’ disparaging comments that social issues will not be as important in 2008 as they were in the 2000 and 2004 elections, the Hard Left isn’t buying it. They are pushing to eliminate any federal funds spent on abstinence education, making what kids are taught about sex an issue in the upcoming Presidential and Congressional races.

Last week, abstinence education opponent US Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) [chaired]  Congressional hearings to discuss whether abstinence education is providing medically sound information and statistically making a difference in our youths’ decisions on whether or not to postpone sexual activity.

The abstinence education issue even made its way into Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s town-hall meeting a couple of weeks ago in Pennsylvania. Obama said he wanted his daughters exposed to comprehensive sex education rather than “be punished” with an unwanted baby or a sexually transmitted disease.

“Comprehensive sex ed” is really a pretty good description of what kids learn via those programs. They learn everything you ever wanted to know about sex and were afraid to ask, as well as everything you didn’t want to know about sex but were forced to find out.

Comprehensive sex ed includes hands-on experiments in condom application skills, encouragement to shower together, as well as explicit information about oral and anal “outercourse” as an alternative sex to intercourse, among other numerous sexploits. Frankly, it’s almost too embarrassing to describe in mixed company what our kids learn via Planned Parenthood’s sex ed curriculum.

The US Congress allocated $370.5 million to such exploitive sex ed programs in 2007, while at the same time setting aside only $174 million to teach kids that it’s normal and preferable to wait for sex until marriage.

But despite Cong. Waxman’s careful stacking of last Wednesday’s Congressional hearing witnesses against abstinence, National Abstinence Education Assn. executive director Valerie Huber said the California Representative’s plan may have backfired.

“During the five hours of testimony and debate last week, it became clear that the witnesses were interested only in an ideological debate. They were not interested in scientific fact and independent research,” Huber said. “At one point, US Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) asked how many of the panelists promoting comprehensive sex ed would support abstinence education if it were to be found effective through scientific means. Of the six panelists,” she said, “only one said ‘yes.’

“The comprehensive sex ed community has no interest in scientific proof that the US should spend money on abstinence education. Their answer last Wednesday should be very telling about how much they want the truth to be taught to our kids.”

In response to the overwhelming number of anti-abstinence testifiers, Heritage Foundation’s Christine C. Kim and Robert Rector reviewed the findings of 21 studies, of which 16 showed positive results from abstinence education and virginity pledges. “Abstinence education teaches the social, psychological and health benefits of abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage. These programs focus on preparing young people for future-oriented goals,” Heritage’s study said. “They provide youth with valuable life and decision-making skills that lay the foundation for personal responsibility and developing healthy relationships later in life.”

Indeed, premature sexual activity is costly for all of us. Those who engage are at risk for negative outcomes such as infection with a sexually transmitted disease, emotional and psychological harm, as well as out-of-wedlock childbearing.

But still, both at the federal and state levels, those who would encourage kids as young as nine years old to begin thinking about and experimenting with sex are slowly squeezing the life out of abstinence programs.  Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) inexplicably cut Illinois-based abstinence program Project Reality’s $1.2 million out of the 2008 state budget and plans to do the same this year, while at the same time pouring more and more into comprehensive sex ed programs.

Without the voices of outraged Illinoisans in the ears of both state and federal elected officials, the trend away from abstinence education will speed up, and our children will have no alternative but to learn about experimenting with sex.

Is that what you and I want for our children and their children? It may be what Barack Obama wants for his, but it’s not what 80% of America’s parents say they want for their kids.

Anyone who says people won’t be voting on social issues this election year doesn’t have their kids in elementary, junior high or high school. They most likely don’t live or function outside the nation’s Beltway or Illinois’s Capitol. If they did, they’d know what we know: Parents want their kids to have better psychological well-being and higher academic achievement rather than becoming sexually active at a young age.

The best way to keep kids like the Obama girls from being exposed to opportunities for unwanted babies or STDs is to invest in abstinence education. …

[Life Advocacy Briefing Editor’s Note: The following lawmakers, we are told, attended the Waxman hearing to defend abstinence education and should be thanked for their advocacy: Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) and Representatives Darrell Issa (CA), Bill Sali (ID), Dan Burton & Mark Souder (IN), Virginia Foxx (NC), Jim Jordan (OH), John Duncan (TN) and Tom Davis (VA). All are Republicans. They may be reached via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121 or addressed at US House, Washington, DC 20515, or in the case of Sen. Brownback, US Senate, Washington, DC 20510.]


Permission granted to quote with attribution. Reproduction rights granted only by express authorization.