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Pro-Life Infonet Weekly 7/16/02

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  • right2life@aol.com
    This Week s Headlines Presidential Bioethics Panel Takes Middle Ground Position on Cloning New Pro-Life Bill Would Protect Hospitals From Performing Abortions
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 16, 2002
      This Week's Headlines

      Presidential Bioethics Panel Takes Middle Ground Position on Cloning
      New Pro-Life Bill Would Protect Hospitals From Performing Abortions
      Federal Funding of Fetal Tissue Research Draws Criticism
      Pro-Abortion Groups Attack Bush Judicial Nominee
      Planned Parenthood Refuses to Help Iowa Abandoned Baby Case

      From: The Pro-Life Infonet Weekly <infonet@...>
      Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
      Subject: Presidential Bioethics Panel Takes Middle Ground Position on
      Source: Pro-Life Infonet; July 11, 2002

      Presidential Bioethics Panel Takes Middle Ground Position on Cloning

      Washington, DC -- A special panel convened by the Bush administration is
      apparently taking a middle of the road position on human cloning, with a
      majority of President George W. Bush's bioethics advisers recommending a
      four-year moratorium on all human cloning to allow for further public debate.

      "The moratorium would provide time to debate whether we should cross a
      crucial moral boundary: creating cloned human life solely as a resource for
      research," council chairman Leon Kass, a bioethicist at the University of
      Chicago, wrote in today's edition of the Wall Street Journal.

      The President's Council on Bioethics was split on what action Congress should
      take, but neither of its two recommendations calls for a permanent ban on
      cloning-for-research, favored by Bush and pro-life groups and approved by the
      House last year.

      "We welcome the Council's rejection, apparently unanimous, of attempts by the
      pro-cloning advocacy groups to deceive the public into believing that cloning
      human embryos is not really 'cloning" or does not really produce 'human
      embryos,'" explained Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right
      to Life.

      In June, pro-cloning Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said on the Senate floor
      that the pro-cloning bill she supports would permit research on what she
      called "unfertilized eggs" up to 14 days old, and she asserted
      that an "unfertilized egg is not capable of becoming a human being."

      The Council declared that somatic cell nuclear transfer using human genetic
      material is indeed "human cloning,"and indeed produces a "human embryo" --
      not merely "cells" or "stem cells" as some
      journalists have recently written.

      The council's divided report was expected. In February, Kass said he was
      abandoning hope of finding consensus, since opinions were so diverse.

      Members agreed that cloning for reproductive purposes should be banned
      outright, for both practical and ethical reasons. In this procedure, a cell
      from one person would be used to create a second person with the same genetic
      code. The contention begins when the subject turns to so-called therepeutic
      human cloning -- cloning involving research that destroys human embryos.

      Speaking on behalf of Focus on the Family, Carrie Gordon Earll, a bioethics
      analyst for the pro-life group noted the counsil's split opinion.

      "While we would have preferred a total ban on so-called 'research cloning,'
      at least a majority of the council members recognize the danger in proceeding
      with human cloning of any kind. Hopefully, this report will serve as a speed
      bump to slow down the apparent rush to 'clone and kill' human embryos for
      their stem cells," Earll said.

      "The recommended moratorium is only a stopgap measure and does not guarantee
      that human embryos created by cloning will be protected," Earll explained.
      "This is disappointing and goes against the views of the general public, the
      U.S. House of Representatives and President Bush."

      It was unclear what influence the report might have in the Senate, where
      members are also divided over whether to allow cloning for research.

      NRLC's Johnson says some pro-cloning senators "are pushing for legislation
      that would authorize the cloning of human embryos and make the FBI
      responsible for enforcing a 14-day deadline for killing them."

      "Any senator who votes for this clone-to-kill bill would be directly
      repudiating the Council's majority recommendation, which is to ban all
      cloning of human embryos for at least four years," Johnson said. He indicated
      a May Gallup poll reveals 61 percent of Americans surveyed opposed "cloning
      of human embryos for medical research."

      A slim majority - 10 of 18 members - favored a four-year moratorium to allow
      for further public debate. Seven members argue that scientists should be
      allowed to move ahead with destructive cloning research under strict
      government regulations. One member failed to attend most meetings and took no

      Seven of the 18 members favored a total ban that Bush and pro-life groups
      support: "We believe it is morally wrong to exploit and destroy developing
      human life, even for good reasons." They joined with three others who wanted
      a moratorium, which would give time to develop a system of regulation, to
      form the majority position.

      Please support the Pro-Life Infonet Weekly with a donation to: Women and
      Children First, P.O. Box 523143, Springfield, VA 22152

      From: The Pro-Life Infonet Weekly <infonet@...>
      Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
      Subject: New Pro-Life Bill Would Protect Hospitals From Performing Abortions
      Source: Pro-Life Infonet; July 11, 2002

      New Pro-Life Bill Would Protect Hospitals From Performing Abortions

      Washington, DC -- A House of Representatives subcommittee on Thursday held a
      hearing on new pro-life legislation to protect the rights of private and
      religious hospitals and other medical facilities that do not wish to perform

      The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (HR 4691) would guarantee that all health
      care entities are afforded the "abortion conscience clause" that federal and
      state laws currently provide to doctors and medical professionals who wish
      not to be involved in performing abortions.

      In 1996, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed into law, provisions
      that protect health care professionals and a "health care entity" from being
      forced to perform and abortion if they have moral or religious objections to
      it. However, "court interpretations have called into question whether these
      sections of law apply to hospitals that object to offering elective
      abortions," according to the bill sponsor, pro-life Congressman Michael
      Bilirakis (R-FL).

      Pro-life senators, in 1998, attempted to clarify the record by stating that a
      "health care entity" was defined to include physicians and other medical
      professionals but not meant to exclude hospitals.

      Yet, as Karen Vosburgh, a board member of Valley Hospital in Palmer, Alaska
      explains, the clarification hasn't stopped states from forcing hospitals to
      perform abortions.

      A local abortion practitioner in Palmer performs first-trimester abortions in
      an abortion facility and, because Alaska law mandates second-trimester
      abortions be performed in a hospital, used Valley Hospital to perform them.
      In the early 1990s, the hospital board voted to prohibit most abortions.

      The abortion practitioner sued Valley Hospital and both a trial judge and the
      Alaska Supreme Court ruled Valley Hospital must allow the abortions to
      continue. Vosburgh, also the director of Alaska Right to Life, said the
      courts declared Valley Hospital a "quasi-public" institution because it
      receives some state and federal money and insisted it is unable to prohibit

      "Our hospital's policy is no different from the language of the federal Hyde
      Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions with the exception of
      rape, incest and life of the mother," Vosburgh explained.

      Vosburgh maintains her hospital is entitled to the same conscience clause
      protections as doctors and nurses and Lynn Wardle, a BYU law professor agrees.

      "In repeated cases, pro-abortion extremists are trying (successfully in many
      cases) to assert the position that a health care entity who will not perform
      abortions must be denied access to the public marker," Wardle, who testified
      in the subcommittee with Vosburgh, explained.

      Wardle discussed a New Jersey case which he says is typical of the new focus
      by abortion advocates.

      Abortion advocates in New Jersey are working to stop the merger between a
      secular hospital and a Catholic hospital because the merger will result in
      the new hospital adopting the policy of the Catholic facility to prohibit
      performing abortions. Rather than opening up their own abortion facilities,
      Wardle said, the abortion advocates are "taking the position that a hospital
      which does not perform abortions must be disqualified from participating in
      the health care profession."

      During the abortion debate prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion
      advocacy groups argued for the "right to privacy" for women to be allowed to
      have abortions. These groups, Wardle says, have shifted the debate from
      tolerating abortion to forcing hospitals and doctors (citing the new
      mandatory abortion training program in New York City) to perform them.

      Abortion advocates on the panel, led by pro-abortion members Sherrod Brown
      (D-OH), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Peter Duetch (D-FL), argued the bill would
      "turn the health care industry on its ear" and hurt women. They claimed the
      bill would "impose religious doctrine" on those who do not share these
      beliefs and would hurt public health.

      Catherine Weiss, director of the ACLU's "Reproductive Freedom Project," said
      the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act would hurt women by disallowing them
      access to emergency contraception. Weiss claimed some hospitals could define
      certain forms of contraception as abortifacients and refuse to provide them
      to women seeking birth control.

      Pro-life members of the committee who spoke, including pro-life Congressman
      Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) disagreed saying the bill is simply
      an effort to "close a loophole, not expand rights."

      "Abortion is elective surgery. It is not prenatal care. It is not basic
      health care," Pitts explained.

      Medical groups including the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
      and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and pro-life organizations
      such as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for
      America, and the Susan B. Anthony List, among many others, support the bill.

      You can make a donation to support the Pro-Life Infonet Weekly with your
      credit card. Please go to http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.org/creditcard

      From: The Pro-Life Infonet Weekly <infonet@...>
      Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
      Subject: Federal Funding of Fetal Tissue Research Draws Criticism
      Source: Pro-Life Infonet; July 10, 2002

      Federal Funding of Fetal Tissue Research Draws Criticism

      Washington, DC -- The first federally funded project using stem cells
      obtained from unborn children aborted up to eight weeks after conception has
      been approved by the U.S. government

      The move has generated considerable debate among pro-life organizations, some
      of whom say the Bush administration caved in while others point out Bush's
      hand was forced by a law passed during the Clinton administration.

      The decision, made in late May, comes almost a year after President Bush
      announced a policy on stem cell research prohibiting the federal funding of
      any new research on stem cells taken from human embryos. Bush said the
      decision was based on his moral opposition to destroying additional embryos
      for research purposes.

      Because of a discrepancy in regulations, stem cells taken from older unborn
      children are subject to different rules than similar cells from embryos.

      Bush's stem cell funding restriction does not apply to research on stem cells
      obtained from older unborn children, according to officials at the National
      Institutes of Health. Such work falls under federal law passed during the
      Clinton administration.

      On May 20, the NIH awarded the funds for research on stem cells from human
      fetuses to the team of stem cell pioneer John Gearhart at Johns Hopkins
      University School of Medicine. Gearhart's team received a grant capped at
      $150,000 to study two insulin-producing stem cell lines with potential
      applications for diabetes treatment. The application process for the fetal
      cell work was unusually demanding, Gearhart said.

      "We were sweating for a while," said Gearhart, who co-discovered human stem
      cells in 1998. "They went through our records like you wouldn't believe, and
      rightly so."

      In another rare step for a relatively small grant application, NIH officials
      notified the White House staff when Gearhart's proposal was approved, said
      administration spokesman Scott McClellan. The approval "was based on
      long-standing law and guidelines," McClellan said.

      However, it appears the Bush administration was forced to approve the funding.

      The administrations of Presidents Reagan and Bush denied funding of
      transplantation research using tissue taken from abortion victims. Over time,
      lopsided support developed in Congress to overturn the pro-life funding ban.
      In 1992, President Bush vetoed the NIH reauthorization bill to prevent the
      pro-life policy from being overturned.

      But once Clinton took office in January 1993, it was no longer possible to
      block enactment of such legislation and Congress passed a law in 1993 that
      made it illegal for presidents to ban funding for such research.

      In 1997, pro-life Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) offered an amendment to prohibit
      the use of fetal tissue from induced abortions in a bill providing expanded
      funding for research into Parkinson's disease. Pro-life groups supported
      this amendment, but the Senate rejected it 38-60.

      Most lawmakers and researchers didn't understand that Bush's stem cell
      funding restrictions would not apply to funding for fetal cells. But Wendy
      Baldwin, deputy director for extramural research at NIH, said last week the
      agency can provide funds for projects using stem cells that have been taken
      from human fetuses since Bush's funding restriction decision.

      The controversy has pro-life organizations at odds over whether Bush failed
      or whether his hands were tied by the 1993 law.

      Some pro-life groups say Bush should have tried to stop all funding of work
      using embryos and fetuses. Bush signaled his position in 2000, responding to
      a candidate questionnaire from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "I
      oppose using federal funds to perform fetal tissue research from induced
      abortions," he wrote.

      "If he is faithful to the principles he enunciated in the campaign, my hope
      is you'd begin to see change," said Ken Connor, president of the Family
      Research Council.

      Connor challenged Bush in a letter to him to change the 1993 law. He said
      that the 1993 law which the White House claimed is tying its hands is
      arguably a violation of the Constitution's separation of powers principle and
      should be challenged.

      However, National Right to Life legislative director Doug Johnson says Bush
      can't change the law governing funding of fetal-tissue research.

      Some pro-life advocates are under "the impression that President Bush had
      some authority to
      prevent this particular use of federal funds," Johnson explains. But that is
      untrue he says.

      "Federal funding of transplantation research using fetal tissue is governed
      not merely by 'Clinton-era rules,' but by an act of Congress enacted in 1993,
      which removed this matter from the authority of the President and his
      appointees," Johnson said. "The NIH reauthorization bill enacted June 10,
      1993 (Public Law 103-43) explicitly removed authority from the President and
      his appointees to block transplantation research using fetal tissue from
      induced abortions."

      Since enactment of the 1993 law, NIH has funded many experiments involving
      fetal tissue from induced abortions.

      "The only thing new about the project," says Johnson, "is that it involves
      stem cells, but it is still
      covered by the 1993 law."

      Congress must overturn the 1993 to allow the Bush administration to block the
      fetal-tissue research funding. However, pro-life lawmakers are likely still
      well shy of the votes needed to make the change.

      One reason there are separate federal rules for research involving human
      fetuses dates to the early 1990s, well before the discovery of human stem
      cells. Federal funding for such research began when President Bill Clinton
      took office.

      In 2000, the Clinton administration released rules for federal funding of
      both types of stem cells. The rules for Gearhart's embryonic cells mirrored
      the earlier regulations for fetal tissue research.

      To supposedly avoid creating any extra incentive for abortion, women can be
      asked to donate a fetus for research only after they have decided to have an
      abortion. Women seeking abortions must give informed consent, cannot be paid
      for the donation, and cannot choose a potential recipient for transplantation
      of the cells.

      The Clinton guidelines allow federal funds to cover the derivation of cells
      from the fetus, though not the abortion itself.

      Although Gearhart's lab is one of only a few in the world specializing in
      fetal-derived stem cells, that could change if more of his lines are approved
      for federal funding. Once a line is approved, NIH officials said, researchers
      wishing to use the same cells have a shorter application process.

      Looking for more pro-life information? Try the following web sites:
      Ultimate Pro-Life Resource List -- http://www.prolifeinfo.org
      Roe v. Wade: 27 Years of Life Denied -- http://www.roevwade.org

      From: The Pro-Life Infonet Weekly <infonet@...>
      Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
      Subject: Pro-Abortion Groups Attack Bush Judicial Nominee
      Source: Associated Press; July 9, 2002

      Pro-Abortion Groups Attack Bush Judicial Nominee

      Austin, TX -- President Bush's nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice
      Priscilla Owen for a federal appeals court is coming under attack from
      abortion advocates.

      Owen's home-state opponents, labeling her an "ultra-conservative activist"
      who opposes abortion, vowed to battle her confirmation in the U.S. Senate.
      They said they hoped to muster the same kind of opposition that led to the
      party-line rejection in March of pro-life U.S. District Judge Charles
      Pickering of Mississippi for a federal appeals court post.

      No Senate confirmation hearing date has been set for Owen, but opponents
      expect her nomination could come before the Senate Judiciary Committee later
      this month.

      "Justice Owen is an activist judge who has taken every opportunity to help
      bend, twist and contort the law to reach her desired outcome," said Dan
      Lambe, executive director of the Texas Watch.

      On the other hand, pro-life advocates say she will be a judge who will not
      use the position to advocate abortion or overturn constitutional pro-life

      "Justice Priscilla Owen is a highly qualified nominee who has always
      interpreted the law rather than legislating from the bench. It is
      unfortunate that there are organizations out there that are trying to thwart
      her nomination because she actually believes there is a distinct and proper
      role between the judiciary and legislative branches," stated Joe Kral,
      legislative director for Texas Right to Life.

      Bush has nominated Owen for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New
      Orleans, which decides appeals from federal courts in Texas, Louisiana and

      Her supporters point out she received a unanimous "well-qualified" rating
      from the American Bar Association and that she faced little opposition in her
      state judicial elections.

      "I just think these assaults on her really are false and misleading and are
      distortions," said former Texas Supreme Court Justice John Hill, who was a
      Democrat but since has supported Republican judges. "She's a good, solid
      rule-of-law judge."

      U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas, said the people of
      Texas clearly support Owen.

      "President Bush has the right to have his nominees confirmed unless there is
      a major character issue, which is absolutely not the case with her. She would
      bring tremendous legal and judicial experience to this job," Hutchison said.

      Owen's critics include the Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action
      League and several regional chapters of Planned Parenthood.

      They said her opinions on the state Supreme Court, the state's highest civil
      court where she has served since 1994, are against young women who seek to
      bypass the state's parental notification law for minors seeking abortions.

      "Owen's opinions have been so controversial that they have prompted
      unprecedented criticism from her Republican colleagues on the court," said
      Kae McLaughlin, executive director of Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights
      Action League, or TARAL.

      At the request of the White House, Owen's office referred calls from
      reporters Tuesday to the U.S. Justice Department, where spokesman Mark
      Corallo called the criticism of Owen "politically motivated."

      "As colleagues and the people who know her best will say, Justice Owen's
      approach to judicial decision-making is restrained. Her opinions are fair and
      well-reasoned and her integrity is beyond reproach," he said.

      Owen's nomination also has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race in Texas
      between pro-life Attorney General John Cornyn, a Republican, and pro-abortion
      former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, a Democrat. Cornyn has been an ardent supporter
      of Owen and has urged that she be confirmed promptly. Kirk has refused to say
      whether he supports her.

      You can help women with crisis pregnancies choose life-affirming
      alternatives to abortion. Please put a link on your web site to Pregnancy
      Centers Online at http://www.pregnancycenters.org

      From: The Pro-Life Infonet Weekly <infonet@...>
      Reply-To: Steven Ertelt <infonet@...>
      Subject: Planned Parenthood Refuses to Help Iowa Abandoned Baby Case
      Source: Cybercast News Service; July 11, 2002

      Planned Parenthood Refuses to Help Iowa Abandoned Baby Case

      Des Mones, IA -- Police in Buena Vista County, Iowa, believe the local
      Planned Parenthood facility may have information that could help
      investigators identify the mother of a newborn baby who was abandoned at the
      county recycling center in May. The baby's remains were found in a garbage

      But the Planned Parenthood Federation of America says it will not sacrifice
      patient confidentiality for "the Iowa police dragnet."

      According to Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, "Planned Parenthood
      will exhaust all legal remedies to protect our patients' medical privacy."

      Investigators say the baby boy was born 24 to 48 hours before a county
      employee found his remains in a shredding machine.

      Investigators, hoping to find the woman who gave birth to the baby, have
      repeatedly requested that Planned Parenthood's Storm Lake facility provide
      medical records to Buena Vista County Attorney Phil Havens.

      Havens specifically wants the abortion business to turn over medical records
      containing the names, birth dates and addresses of women who tested positive
      for pregnancy between Aug. 15, 2001 and May 30, 2002. The list is expected to
      contain at least 1,000 names.

      County Sheriff Chuck Eddy told the Des Moines Register that investigators
      have not had any trouble getting medical records from other area hospitals
      and clinics.

      "We had no complaints from anybody," Eddy said. "They were all basically
      really [willing] to help."

      Wendy Wright, communications director for Concerned Women for America, said
      she's intrigued by the fact that every other hospital and clinic in the area
      has complied with requests from law enforcement, except for Planned

      "You have to wonder, what is it that Planned Parenthood is concerned about?"
      Wright asked. "Obviously, if it were just patient privacy, if that really
      were the issue, then the other hospitals and clinics in the area would have
      been defending their patients' privacy rights as well."

      Further complicating matters for local authorities is an Iowa state law that
      says medical records are confidential. Planned Parenthood has filed a motion
      in the Buena Vista District Court asking the court to define the term
      "medical records."

      County officials argue that Planned Parenthood's pregnancy test records are
      not medical records, as defined by state law, because physicians and nurses
      did not administer the tests.

      But Feldt does not see it that way, and she considers the entire
      investigation to be an "inquisition."

      "There's a big difference between a health-care institution providing medical
      records when they've been subpoenaed as a result of suspicion, or if there's
      a valid suspect in a crime," Feldt said in a statement. "Under those
      circumstances, Planned Parenthood and any other medical facility would
      cooperate to help solve a crime.

      "That's not what this is about," she said. "This is an inquisition."

      Jennifer Dalen, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU)
      Reproductive Law Center, agrees with Feldt.

      "Planned Parenthood is just doing what it has always done, and that's protect
      the interest of its patients," Dalen said. "In our view, it's an extreme
      invasion into the privacy of the patients and, at the same time, very
      unlikely to lead to any helpful evidence."

      Dalen noted there is no evidence that the woman who left her baby to die at
      the recycling center was ever a client of Planned Parenthood or any other
      area clinic.

      "What's next?" she asked. "Do they go to drug stores and ask who bought a
      home pregnancy test?"

      Havens believes the only way to enforce Planned Parenthood's cooperation is
      to pursue contempt-of-court charges.

      Last week he requested that Jill June, director of Planned Parenthood of
      Greater Iowa, be jailed for contempt of court if she did not cooperate with
      the investigation, according to the Des Moine Register. The contempt charge
      could mean up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

      Iowa Right to Life spokesperson Kim Gordon hopes the mounting pressure will
      allow officials to examine Planned Parenthood's records.

      According to Gordon, Planned Parenthood has existed under a "bubble of
      protection" for too long. "Nobody gets to inspect them -- nobody gets to know
      what they're doing -- they can do whatever they want," she said.

      Gordon expressed suspicion when learning that District Judge Frank Nelson,
      the judge who issued the order for Planned Parenthood's medical records, has
      since been reassigned.

      "A new judge hasn't been scheduled to come until July 22," said Planned
      Parenthood spokesperson Kendall Dillon. "We don't see anything happening
      until then."

      Gordon noted that any judge has the power to unseal medical records that are
      otherwise protected by the state's confidentiality law. She questions whether
      Judge Nelson was moved off the case because he favored opening up Planned
      Parenthood's medical records.

      "Planned Parenthood is very well accomplished in knowing what judge does
      what," Gordon said. "They're handpicking their judges."

      Further, she said, "If they're the ones who are encouraging changing the
      judges, that's in my mind, a conspiracy."

      Please feel free to pass on the Pro-Life Infonet Weekly to pro-life
      friends and family. For more pro-life information, see
      http://www.prolifeinfo.org or http://www.roevwade.org
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