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Archive for the ‘Biomedical Ethics’ Category

terrischiavo-273x275

Every now and then the biomedical community and the legal system are presented with the opportunity to rediscover our collective humanity through the lens of animal rights and animal cruelty. More often than not that lens has insufficient power to correct their distorted perception of human dignity. Having just passed the ninth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death by starvation and dehydration, word comes today of the starvation and dehydration death of Roxy the dog, a boxer in England, who died at the hands of his solicitor-in-training owner, Katy Gammon.

Ms. Gammon has been in the employ of a law firm specializing in……

Medical Negligence.

It seems that Ms. Gammon retained Roxy who originally belonged to a boyfriend after the relationship ended. The dog was kept locked in the kitchen because it wasn’t housebroken. All was well until Gammon began staying with her mother a few blocks away and stopped coming to feed the dog after she injured her knee. A window into the collective soul from MailOnline:

Bristol Magistrates’ Court had previously heard that Gammon had confined the dog by tying a rope to the kitchen door handle and fixing it to a hook in the hall.

Roxy had frantically clawed at the door, leaving fragments on the floor, as she tried to escape before her death, which would have taken around six days…

Asked if she had deliberately locked her in the kitchen and left her to die, Gammon replied: ‘Yes, basically.’

The article continues with a description of what Roxy’s death was probably like. At this juncture it is worth noting that humans and dogs have very similar anatomy and physiology, and that dog experimentation has often been the last step before human trials of new medicines and medical treatments, because of our shared similarities. More from the article:

A vet said the pet would have taken up to six days to die gradually and painfully, becoming blind and falling into a coma before passing away…

‘A number of items had desperately been pulled out of cupboards. We believe this was a desperate attempt at searching for food or water.

‘Roxy suffered a slow, painful death which could have been prevented.’

And so it goes with human beings who are deprived of food and hydration as a means of hastening death. It is a slow and agonizing demise, as Roxy’s story indicates. Often the patient is unresponsive, but as the parent of any teenager knows, lack of responsiveness does not indicate a lack of sensory reception, or internal processing. Terri Schiavo was perhaps the most publicized case of the Roxys of our species.

However, shared physiology is where our paths diverge. Lower animals now possess greater dignity (from the Latin, meaning “standing”) in western jurisprudence than human beings. Consider the words of the sentencing magistrate as Gammon received 18 weeks in jail, and a lifetime ban on owning pets, for her crime:

Sentencing, magistrate Rod Mayall said: ‘You have shown limited remorse. You failed to behave as any normal person would have. This is the most serious case of animal cruelty encountered in these courts.’

And here is where the magistrate misses the mark by a mile. Humans are also animals. Additionally, we are a higher order animal, capable of at least as much pain (physical state) as a dog, and perhaps even more suffering (a psychological state). If this is the worst case of animal cruelty he has seen before the court, then it is because humans have lost their standing in the very courts they have created. Gammon has been sentenced to jail and a lifetime ban from owning pets so that she may never again be in a position to practice such barbarism. That’s a good thing.

However human beings who, on a daily basis, pull members of their own species apart, limb-by-limb, in the womb, and who similarly starve and dehydrate members of our own species to death do so with government-issued licenses and are considered practitioners in good standing.

The outrage in all of this isn’t that Gammon was punished for her crime against Roxy, it’s that the deaths of the Terri Schiavo’s among us aren’t considered criminal at all. It is that our legislators and judges do not, “behave as any normal person would have,” protecting humans with the same ferocity as they would if the subject in consideration were a dog.

The greatest tragedy of all is that humans have a long way to go before we enjoy equal dignity, equal standing with our pets in a court of law.

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desk

Wesley J. Smith has a disturbing article dealing with Oxford bioethicist Julian Savulescu’s proposal to screen human embryos for intelligence. Smith quotes Savulescu:

A common objection is that being smarter does not make your life better. In this study, researchers were concerned with those with an IQ between 70-85. Below 70 is classified as intellectual disability but an IQ of 70 to 75 is similar to mild intellectual disability.

Even for individuals with an IQ between 75 and 90 there are still significant disadvantages. Job opportunities tend to be the least desirable and least financially rewarding, requiring significant oversight…Individuals with this lower level of intelligence are at significant risk of living in poverty (16%), being a chronic welfare dependent (17%) and are much more likely to drop out of school (35%) compared to individuals with average intelligence.

Studies show that there is also an increased risk of incarceration and being murdered.

Read it all.

When it comes to eugenics, there is simply no end to the killing until a just people rises up and either kills or incarcerates the practitioners, as was the case with Nazi Germany. When forced sterilizations weren’t enough, there were detention camps, which gave way to concentration camps where people were shot and buried. When that proved too slow and cumbersome to effect the eugenic goal, gas chambers were built, with exhaust fumes from tanks pumped in. When that proved still too slow, larger chambers using cyanide gas were built, and ovens to cremate the remains.

Eugenics has a malignant mania that increases with demonic furor the further in one goes. When we go from preventing birth to active killing, a point of no return is reached and the killing can only be brought to an end by brute force. Consider Savulescu’s argument.

He begins with screening embryos for genetic signposts pointing to potential cognitive capacity. He justifies the killing by pointing to undesirable outcomes such as poverty, welfare dependence and dropping out of school, ignoring that the risks are all very low. Poverty, welfare dependence, and being a school dropout are reason enough in Savulescu’s cramped worldview to kill those who might end up there. By that logic, why should we tolerate those who do end up there? Ought we not have camps for such “human weeds,” as Margaret Sanger called them? And what happens when we tire of supporting the camps?

There are certain cardinal virtues that go with being a Ph.D. My life’s mentor, Father Luke McCann, Ph.D., once told me that those cardinal virtues are contained in the three little letters of the title:

Prudence.

Humility.

Decorum.

I would submit that Savulescu and his fellow travelers are bereft of all three. They are also bereft of the very intelligence they stake such a claim to possessing, as intelligence goes beyond capacity for factual recall, but involves the capacity for problem solving. Advanced intelligence goes beyond mere problem solving and involves the capacity for vision guided by empathy and moral principle. Ph.D.’s are not awarded our degrees for merely taking classes and passing tests. We are awarded the degree for making novel discoveries, for advancing the knowledge within our field of endeavor. In other words, one must demonstrate vision and match the vision with corresponding accomplishment. So where does Savulescu and his cohort get it wrong?

PRUDENCE

Their vision becomes constricted and they lose perspective on life. Intellect for its own sake becomes the pursuit, and they can’t tolerate the aboriginals spoiling their view of an idealized landscape. It becomes easier to kill the marginalized than to create systems that incorporate them more fully into society. How academia has fallen.

There have been several movements in psychology and medicine to give more humane treatment to the “insane.” Forward thinking physicians tried “Moral Therapy” as it was known, where patients were no longer locked in asylums that resembled dungeons. Instead, they were housed in the country and visited regularly by the physician who would bring a small cake, or other gift. In the 1970’s, the warehousing of the mentally retarded ended, and the Group Home movement began, a modern reincarnation of moral therapy. To society’s surprise we learned that “retards” could actually be taught and gainfully employed. So successful has this been that the terms “mentally retarded” and “retard” are uttered today only by boors. People enhanced with an extra chromosome are now graduating from college!

The community of parents with children who have autism are similarly on the march. Marginalization only happens when ignorance and fear trump reason and compassion.

HUMILITY

The jobs that exist on the margins are only marginal to pompous, effete academics. A closer look reveals the central importance of the work that the lowest-paid workers perform. Taking deliveries and stocking shelves in stores is vital work for those who do not produce their own food. So too for cashiers and maintenance workers, cleaning crews, and kitchen staff. They are the unsung and thankless jobs that make civilization civilized. When Martin Luther King Jr. called for blacks to stay at home and not go to work, whites got a good taste of how indispensable those they disdained truly are.

The rarefied air of universities often induces a case of intellectual and spiritual anoxia in those who never darken the chapel door. Savulescus are the result.

DECORUM

Savulescu above all should know that doctors are not free, but constrained. There are simply some groups that one never, ever goes after. If the privileges of the faculty club are the perks for years spent in advanced study and intellectual pursuits, then the unspoken rule is that one NEVER goes after others of unequal academic accomplishment because of their unequal accomplishment. This is especially true for those of unequal capability. There was a time when Savulescu would have been shunned by the academic community for doing so.

One of my professors in graduate school once told me that the Ph.D. is no big deal. “It’s a union card, Gerry. Nothing more. If you want to do this work, you need the union card. The big deal is your publication list at your retirement party.” How very true. It isn’t the degree, but what one does with it that counts.

Oxford now has some soul-searching to do. Do they tolerate a Savulescu in their midst under the soiled banner of “Academic Freedom?” Do they show him the door? If we are to salvage a crumbling western civilization, then the formation of our young in universities and colleges will need to be done by Ph.D.’s who understand and live the three cardinal virtues of academics:

Prudence, Humility, Decorum.

Absent brute military force, that’s the only non-violent response to eugenics.

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caduceus

This letter is addressed to every physician, scientist, and genetic counselor who believes in a eugenic agenda that targets the unborn specifically because of diagnosed genetic anomalies. It asks a series of penetrating questions that invite thoughtful response, and are not meant to be rhetorical.

The first question is: WHO?

Who taught you in medical school or graduate school that we doctors of science and medicine are the custodians of the human gene pool? Who was it that told you it was your job to keep that pool “clean?” They are serious questions, as I never encountered this philosophy, let alone mandate, in my premed studies at Columbia University, grad studies at St. John’s University, or post-doctoral studies at the City University of New York. Neither in the Ivies, Catholic, or Public universities did I ever encounter this mandate that has seized hold in our hospitals. Whence comes this thinking?

In my undergraduate studies in the 70’s and 80’s liberal arts professors taught extensively about the corruption of the Third Reich, and the eugenic agenda in Hitler’s camps. What we were never taught was that this agenda predated Hitler and arose within the medical community of the 1920’s in Germany. Regardless, the properly educated man or woman in American universities in the 70’s and 80’s was taught that eugenics was repugnant, Master Race and all of that stuff… It leads to the next question:

HOW?

How have we progressed from that understanding to where we are today? How is it that we have come to view genetic anomalies as so terrifyingly painful that those who bear them are deemed “incompatible with life,” which is strikingly similar to Hitler’s, “Life unworthy of Life?” On what basis do you make such an assessment, especially in the case of Down Syndrome? Is this rooted in firsthand clinical experience? It can’t be, as these children and adults are some of the most beautiful and happy individuals among us. How is it that we celebrate “diversity’ with near-fanaticism in society while we shoot for genetic homogeneity with similar near-fanaticism? That of course leads to the question:

WHAT?

What is it that you believe you have been entrusted with that leads to this neo-eugenics? When I went to graduate school, we were entrusted with great knowledge of biology across the spectrum of life, and in my course of studies, great knowledge of human and microbial physiology. We were entrusted with the knowledge and training in molecular biology, techniques so powerful that they have equal ability to destroy life on earth as well as advance the cause for life on earth. What we did not receive enough of was training in ethics, and not the sort of algorithm flow chart-based policy crap devoid of any training in metaphysics and human anthropology. I received all of that in undergrad, thank God. It was expected of us that we would use this great knowledge and power only for good, but therein lies the problem.

How do we define the good? Who defines the good? What is the good?

It’s easy for those of us who were obviously born with all of the genetic capability to earn doctorates to look down upon the disenfranchised with disdain. It comes from an insecurity within that says, “I can’t imagine living like that,” which is precisely the soil in which a eugenic mentality takes root. A little guilt added in to spice up the toxic brew, and here we are. But ask yourself this question.

If you rise above the genetics and epigenetics and consider the quality of life to which you appeal in your headlong pursuit of stamping out the unfit, what training do you have in anthropology, psychology, sociology, comparative religion, transcultural psychology, aesthetics, philosophy? How well did you apply yourself to these studies when you were in pre-med, or were these the B.S. courses you needed to endure on the way to medical or graduate school?

I would submit that most physicians and scientists I have met who are pro-choice are severely deficient in these areas, and as such cannot render an informed opinion as regards quality of life, and only speak from their very narrow and cramped worldview.

The new colonialism.

Of course, this all begs the further question:

When?

When was it that we stopped looking for cures and enhanced therapies, and started taking the cheap way out? When did death and non-existence become the answer, rather than healing and wholeness? When did we receive a mandate to kill every baby we could in order to aid the patient in avoidance of suffering?

I would submit that the answers reside in the radicalization of the liberal arts over the past thirty years, and in the watering down of the college curriculum in that time. It’s a formation issue, from my perspective, one that has left many of our finest and brightest physicians and scientists impoverished and without the necessary spiritual and intellectual protections against the power of our biotechnology to twist and distort its practitioners.

Do you disagree?

I’m open to feedback and answers to the questions

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stethoscopeHeart

News today that Belgium has approved euthanasia for any age. From BBC:

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent.

Opponents argue children cannot make such a difficult decision.

It is 12 years since Belgium legalised euthanasia for adults.

In the Netherlands, Belgium’s northern neighbour, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12, if there is parental consent.

Under the Dutch conditions, a patient’s request for euthanasia can be fulfilled by a doctor if the request is “voluntary and well-considered” and the patient is suffering unbearably, with no prospect of improvement.

Today the Belgian people have ratified civilizational suicide. There is no turning back now, absent a national awakening through evangelization. There is so much wrong with this law that it hardly bears discussion. It is simply malevolent, and it brings me back to an experience of when Regina and I were engaged to be married.

It was 1990-1991 and Regina was still a new Pediatric Nurse at Cornell Medical Center in NYC. One of her patients (We’ll change his name and call him Daniel) was a young boy who was six years old and being treated for leukemia. This little charmer stole my fiancé’s affections, along with those of the entire nursing staff. The stories of Daniel’s antics were hilarious and non-stop. Against the backdrop of the hilarity was the constant encroachment of a disease that had a short-lived remission.

There came a point when “the trip” was brought up in regards to the timing of the leukemia’s progression; the trip to Disney for this little prince. Off went the family and an excited little boy who had never been to Disney World.

It was magical for him.

Pure joy.

For mom and dad, it was the unique blend of joy and dread experienced by so many parents of critically ill children. Back home, Regina steadied her young girl’s heart for the switch from heroic last-ditch efforts in oncology to palliative care not only for Daniel, but for his parents, who by now seemed like extended relatives. When the end came, it came hard and fast.

There was never an issue of unbearable suffering for little Daniel. His pain was adequately managed. I was at Regina’s apartment in hospital housing on that Sunday afternoon when the day-shift nurse called with the news. Daniel had slipped away peacefully and Regina needed to come over. Regina had a good cry and asked me to go with her. When we arrived, Daniel was there in his bed, surrounded by grieving family, nurses, and physicians. His father sat next to his dead son, encapsulated in a bubble of grief that was impenetrable. It was there that I finally met this extended family.

Daniel’s mother hugged Regina and the two just cried. She thanked her over and over for all of her kindness as his night nurse, for the loving way in which she cared for Daniel, and for all of the emotional and logistical support that Regina gave that went way over and above the requirements of her job.

I stood there in support but mostly a spectator to this beautiful, if heartrending, scene. There before me were some of the finest minds in medicine and nursing in the world, in an Ivy-League teaching hospital, in fast-paced and cynical New York City, and they cried, laughed, and loved unashamedly. To the very last moment of Daniel’s brief life among us, they lavished their finest clinical ministrations upon him, and supplemented that with generous amounts of love.

Children such as Daniel simply do not think about suicide. They are hard-wired for hope in the future. In Regina’s quarter of a century as a pediatric nurse, never once has she come across a terminally ill child who ever wanted to end it all, who ever thought in those categories. That is a category introduced by the adults in their lives. The permanence of death simply escapes children.

There is only one antidote for the Belgian experience, and it revealed itself to me through my young fiancé and her colleagues a long time ago. At the wake and funeral it was a celebration of love, and the entire staff turned out in force for the family and for each other. A month later, Regina received a video from Daniel’s family asking that she remember him. His prayer card remains on Regina’s dresser to this day. A few times through the years, I have taken out that video and watched, and remembered, and learned.

It’s all about the courage that comes from love. That courage propels us to advance the field of palliative medicine, while allowing families to work through their bitter sorrow without succumbing to despair.

In that private room so long ago, it was evident that death came like a silent thief amidst an enormity of love. Daniel didn’t die at the hands of Regina and her colleagues. He lived at their hands, and more fully and beautifully because of their love and the love of his family. And when it was all said and done, his parents took up the rest of their lives having been lovingly supported and affirmed by a staff of professionals who honored the love that begat the little prince who stole my fiancé’s heart.

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lost-babies

It is well-known that women who receive so-called poor prenatal diagnoses are pressured by genetic counselors and obstetricians to abort the baby. Often, as in the case of Down syndrome, the diagnosis comes with just a week or two left before the legal limit to have an abortion. In the midst of the shock and bewilderment, the feelings of inadequacy in the face of certain special needs (Feelings which are completely normal), often comes severe coercion by physicians who will refuse to treat unless an abortion is obtained. Mothers and fathers are asked why they would make their child suffer. Family and babies’ fathers threaten physical, financial, and emotional abandonment.

With Down syndrome over 90% of babies are aborted within this crucible.

I have heard first-hand accounts that are horrid, accounts where the truth of therapeutic options for prenatal surgeries, post-partum surgeries and therapies often make for very functional children. Even when such is not the option, there is hardly ever a referral to a support group for a different perspective.

Then there are the frequent horror stories of the baby aborted and found to have been perfectly healthy and normal. Modern medicine is on a eugenic rampage and the stories of these mothers and fathers need to be told.

Therefore, I am beginning a project to collect the stories of parents who have been victims of abusive physicians and genetic counselors, whether they aborted or carried the child to term. Both the triumph and tragedy need to be told. Names will be kept anonymous and stories will be printed only by permission and in the parents’ own words in an upcoming book. Please reach out to anyone you know with such a story, and then email me at:

gerardnadal60@gmail.com

All names will be kept strictly confidential, and only those stories will be published where written authorization to do so has been obtained.

Feel free to contact me with any and all questions.

God Bless.

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Just in case anyone doubts that the objective is to destroy all private health insurance, this video has Obama in his own words. It’s devastating.

When the government tries to control our very bodily autonomy, it’s time to change course. The midterm elections are a year away. God help us all.

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OctoberRosebud

Increasingly, I understand why it is that old people begin to welcome death as a friend.

News today from across the pond in The Telegraph of a young Somali girl who was smuggled into Great Britain for the purpose of harvesting her organs. From the story:

The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.

Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.

The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh.

The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking. It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men.
Child protection charities warned last night that criminal gangs were attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain.

Bharti Patel, the chief executive of Ecpat UK, the child protection charity, said: “Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It’s unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group.”

According to the World Health Organisation as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.

While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.
The process involves a number of people including the recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.

The government’s report also found that there has been a rise in the number of adults trafficked to the UK, with the number of women rising by 12 per cent to 786 and the number of men by almost a third to 400. They include growing numbers of British men are being exploited for “paving or ground works” in this country or abroad.

Read the rest.

I don’t know what to say about this. I think its speaks for itself. I’m simply beyond words.

I understand old people more, and more.

Maranatha!

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It is difficult to imagine that any public official could possibly march to the left of Barack Obama or HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, but today Federal District Court Judge Edward Korman did just that when he approved the sale of Plan B to children of any age. Previously, Sebelius ordered that based on the science, children were not capable of complying with the directions of safe use of the drug. Here is Sebelius in her own words not too long ago:

A Statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Plan B One-Step is an emergency contraceptive, sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill.” Plan B One-Step is currently labeled over the counter to women ages 17 years and older, but is sold behind the pharmacy counter. It is available by prescription only to women 16 years and younger. My decision does not change any current availability of the drug for all women.
In February 2011, Teva Women’s Health Inc. submitted to the FDA a supplemental new drug application for Plan B One-Step. This application sought to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age. The science has confirmed the drug to be safe and effective with appropriate use. However, the switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately. I do not believe that Teva’s application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.
FDA has recommended approval of this application in its Summary Review for Regulatory Action on Plan B One-Step. After careful consideration of the FDA Summary Review, I have concluded that the data, submitted by Teva, do not conclusively establish that Plan B One-Step should be made available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age.
The average age of the onset of menstruation for girls in the United States is 12.4 years. However, about ten percent of girls are physically capable of bearing children by 11.1 years of age. It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age. If the application were approved, the product would be available, without prescription, for all girls of reproductive age.
The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible, acting through the FDA Commissioner, for executing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Today’s action reflects my conclusion that the data provided as part of the actual use study and the label comprehension study are not sufficient to support making Plan B One-Step available to all girls 16 and younger, without talking to a health care professional. Plan B One-Step will still be available over the counter to women ages 17 and older.
Because I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age, I have directed FDA to issue a complete response letter denying the supplemental new drug application (SNDA) by Teva Women’s Health, Inc..

Sebelius received Obama’s support for her decision. From news reports at the time of the ruling:

Obama said that as a father of two daughters, he thinks the government should “apply some common sense” to rules governing over-the-counter medicine. He said he understood Sebelius’ concern about letting medication with potentially adverse side effects be available to 10-year-old girls “alongside bubble gum or batteries” at drugs stores.
“I think most parents would probably feel the same way,” he said. Asked point blank if he supports Sebelius’ decision, Obama said, “I do.”

While the Judge today said that his decision was supported by science, it remains for the Judge to enlighten both the regulatory and scientific/medical communities as to what secret studies he was privy to in his decision-making. The truth is that every study, including those by Teva, the manufacturer of Plan B, indicate that half of all women taking the drug were incapable of following the directions on the product insert for correct use of the drug and/or failed to understand that Plan B is not meant to replace regular contraceptives or be used more than once in a menstrual cycle.

Further, studies have indicated that when used by teens the rate of Chlamydia infection rose (presumably from increased sexual activity). Additionaly, studies have indicated that the incidence of teen pregnancy was not lowered by the use of Plan B.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the lack of understanding by the judge that children’s medications are dispensed on a milligram of drug per kilogram of body weight basis. This is because standard adult doses would be double, triple, or even quadruple the necessary amount in children whose bodies are often 1/4 the mass of an adult’s. There are NO KNOWN STUDIES of the effects of the single, adult dose of Plan B on girls under age 18, which makes the specter of girls twelve and thirteen years old purchasing this drug over the counter just as frightening as can be. There are also no long term studies of Plan B’s. effects on adults, either. So the whole enetrprise is one, large human experiment.

It isn’t impossible to imagine a young girl whose body mass is half that of an eighteen year-old’s taking this dangerous hormonal drug after every act of sex, up to several in one month. This drug is several times the dose taken daily by women using oral contraceptives. Recall that half of all grown women studied couldn’t grasp this reality.

Our daughters have become lab rats in Judge Korman’s great experiment. Better he should leave such matters to those of us trained in the field, and that he stick to the law. It is now open season on girls, whose gynecologic standard of care would be improved if they were accorded the same standards that govern veterinary medicine. If vets did to animals what we do to our women, they would lose their licenses and be prosecuted for cruelty. That’s how far gynecologic medicine and its governmental regulation have sunk.

Below, an interview I gave earlier this year at a medical conference in Washington, DC, dealing with this issue of targeting children.

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Note: There seems to be two different protocols that have been reported on this, as Melissa points out in the combox below. I’ll track down the correct one and adjust accordingly.

News today from AP that a research team at Oregon Health and Sciences University has replicated work done a few years ago in Britain, constructing a human embryo by using the eggs of two mothers and a father’s sperm.

Read it at FoxNews

The goal here is to prevent diseases that arise from genetic defects within the energy-producing organelle of the cell known as the mitochondrion. These so-called mitochondrial diseases are very real and quite varied. As the article states:

About 1 in every 5,000 children inherits a disease caused by defective mitochondrial genes. The defects can cause many rare diseases with a host of symptoms, including strokes, epilepsy, dementia, blindness, deafness, kidney failure and heart disease.

So the diseases and the frequencies are significant. The ethics are a forgone conclusion. We’ll debate the ethics of taking the healthy nucleus from Jane’s egg and putting it into the egg of Lisa (which has had its nucleus removed), and then fertilizing that hybrid with Jane’s husband’s sperm. In this way, they will have children with 99% DNA from Jane and hubby, and only 1% DNA residing in the mitochondrion.

What effect will this have on the offspring, and will there be complications? We won’t know until we manufacture these babies and await the results not only over the course of the manufactured baby’s life, but in the lives of the descendants.

It won’t stop there.

The next step will be the genetic engineering of nuclear DNA by either replacing entire chromosomes, or at the least, defective nuclear genes. The guiding ethical principle?

Suffering is bad, and the noble end of preventing suffering justifies the means.

Emanating from this nobility comes the evil of intolerance of those who suffer, and who afflict us with their suffering. Consider the following from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in his infamous majority opinion in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case which upheld the forced sterilization of the developmentally delayed:

Carrie Buck is a feeble minded white woman who was committed to the State Colony above mentioned in due form. She is the daughter of a feeble minded mother in the same institution, and the mother of an illegitimate feeble minded child…

An Act of Virginia, approved March 20, 1924, recites that the health of the patient and the welfare of society may be promoted in certain cases by the sterilization of mental defectives, under careful safeguard, &c.; that the sterilization may be effected in males by vasectomy and in females by salpingectomy, without serious pain or substantial danger to life; that the Commonwealth is supporting in various institutions many defective persons who, if now discharged, would become [p206] a menace, but, if incapable of procreating, might be discharged with safety and become self-supporting with benefit to themselves and to society…

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

There’s nothing new in our age.

When suffering is to be avoided at all costs, the question becomes, “WHOSE suffering?”

The answer to that question then determines the lengths to which we will go to prevent that suffering.

The next step will be designer babies, and on what grounds could parents possibly be stopped? That it’s unethical to manufacture human beings in a lab? Are they humans in that Petri dish? If yes, why do we discard so many during normal IVF? Is that not murder? If the answer is no, then what harm is there? Isn’t genetic engineering for traits just a cleaner and more precise version of picking up a blonde-haired, blue-eyed stud in a bar, or picking out an Ivy-League sperm donor?

What is being lost in the process that now gives people pause?

That’s the only question whose answer matters.

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A response to the many queries I’ve been receiving about this topic:

The technological genie is out of the bottle.

We live in the age of Molecular Biology, where diagnostics (including those for Down Syndrome) are becoming much more accurate, sensitive, and inexpensive. It’s a blessed thing to behold.

That may come as a surprise statement to many, but the truth of the matter is that diagnostic testing for Down Syndrome has great potential for good, especially the newer blood tests that can detect Down Syndrome earlier.

First, letting parents know much earlier takes from the more eugenic Ob/Gyn’s the leverage that comes with the more traditional (and later) amniocentesis. Women often receive those tests results within days to a couple of weeks of the legal limit for having an abortion. It doesn’t give the woman time to emotionally digest the diagnosis, leaving her vulnerable to coercive pressure from genetic counselors, doctors and family.

Next, the earlier blood tests allow more time for women to sit with their decision, and to seek out and receive alternative advice without the deadline for abortion looming large on the horizon. Contrary to arguments that say the abortion rate will skyrocket with such testing, as early term abortions are easier to have, one need only consider that research from Harvard University shows that 93% of all Ds babies diagnosed are being aborted; so there’s little margin for any skyrocketing of abortions.

The glass is half-full here.

By itself, the technology is morally neutral. This technology can alert an Obstetrician to the need for more sonograms and the need for bringing onboard a perinatologist. Some Ds babies have anomalies that require immediate surgical intervention at birth. Early diagnostics can help to determine whether the birth should be vaginal or C-section, and whether or not a surgical team needs to be on standby.

Early diagnostics can help the parents emotionally come to terms with the reality of their child’s needs, and the unanticipated trajectory those needs will put the parents’ lives onto; all of which is critical for bonding.

Receiving a diagnosis of Down Syndrome is akin to the same reception of a diagnosis of autism. It’s like a small, tactical nuclear warhead exploding amidst the landscape of joyful reveries about our children and our hope for their futures. I was devastated by all of Joseph’s diagnoses, and would never want to repeat that experience.

Knowing the devastation that often comes with such diagnoses is key to helping parents through that difficult time, and the earlier the diagnosis, the more time we have to help them.

With so much potential good that can come from this technology (and so little room for matters to get worse), it is unwise, even counterproductive to fight against it. Science has actually given us a buffer zone.

We need to exploit it.

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In March of this year an article calling for the normalization of infanticide for any reason was published and created something of a stir. In the fluid dynamics of this election year, the malignancy of the article was quickly overtaken by other events, and it is worthy of a revisit in some detail, especially in light of government-controlled healthcare and who has a vested interest in the new eugenics.

In analyzing this paper, one can only arrive at an apt analogy that runs afoul of Godwin’s Law, which states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

There is an exception to this rule, and that is when the contemporary circumstance under discussion moves beyond tenuous analogy and becomes recapitulation of history, echoing George Santayana’s admonition that those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. In March of this year, no less a respected journal than the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME) published an article worthy of the rabid Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher’s screeds in his publication, Der Sturmer. We do well to recall how Streicher and the other Nazi leaders who went to the gallows with him deemed Jews, homosexuals, the mentally retarded, and those with autism (among others) as, “Life unworthy of life.”

Such analogy is quite apt in the case of the article in question.

The article, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?, by authors Alberto Giubilini (Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; and Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), and Frencesca Minerva (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) is published in J Med Ethics (2012). doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411 and may be viewed and downloaded here.

In their abstract, the authors state:

“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

[emphasis added, G.N.]

What follows is a three-page argument for redefining infanticide, beginning with justifying it on the basis of killing those handicapped that might have slipped through the genetic submarine net, and then opening the redefined infanticide to any parent killing their newborn for any reason at all. It is a fascinating and profoundly disturbing read into the process of malevolent apologetics.

The article begins with the typical appeal to the most extreme, grotesque, and heart-wrenching cases in order to establish the authors as reasonable and garner sympathy for the mothers whom the authors are, a priori, giving permission for and absolving of premeditated murder. The first example offered is Treacher-Collins Syndrome. As the authors state:

“One example is the case of Treacher-Collins syndrome (TCS), a condition that affects 1 in every 10 000 births causing facial deformity and related physiological failures, in particular potentially life-threatening respiratory problems. Usually those affected by TCS are not mentally impaired and they are therefore fully aware of their condition, of being different from other people and of all the problems their pathology entails. Many parents would choose to have an abortion if they find out, through genetic prenatal testing, that their fetus is affected by TCS. However, genetic prenatal tests for TCS are usually taken only if there is a family history of the disease. Sometimes, though, the disease is caused by a gene mutation that intervenes in the gametes of a healthy member of the couple. Moreover, tests for TCS are quite expensive and it takes several weeks to get the result. Considering that it is a very rare pathology, we can understand why women are not usually tested for this disorder.”

The authors then move on to Down Syndrome, citing that only 64% of European cases studied were diagnosed in utero, leaving 1,700 live births whose mothers might very well have aborted had they known. Incredibly, the authors go on to state:

“Euthanasia in infants has been proposed by philosophers for children with severe abnormalities whose lives can be expected to be not worth living and who are experiencing unbearable suffering.”

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

Lest anyone doubt that the authors do not intend those with Down Syndrome, they immediately follow this thought with:

“It might be maintained that ‘even allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the potential of Down’s syndrome children, this potential cannot be said to be equal to that of a normal child’. But, in fact, people with Down’s syndrome, as well as people affected by many other severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

“Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

And there we have it, at this moment in time when the United States has its last chance to dismantle Obamacare with its rationing systems established by Donald Berwick, it is argued that the state has a compelling interest in not only screening and aborting those with genetic conditions who might lead perfectly happy lives if born, but there is a compelling reason for the state to intervene and commit infanticide for those who are born when it is the state paying the bills.

Then, to underscore their position, the authors state:

“Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.”

[Emphasis added, G.N.]

In that last breathtaking sentence, the authors leave behind Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the “Death with Dignity’ movement, euthanasia, and even the vile excesses of the Dutch physician assisted suicide experience, propelling us into the scenario where those who may be perfectly healthy apart from even the mildest limitations imposed by a genetic condition may be murdered by their parents. In fact, the authors go even further when they state in their abstract:

“ what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

[emphasis added, G.N.]

Given the widespread practice of abortion on demand, no questions asked, this means that parents of newborns ought to have the right to commit infanticide for any reason at all. In the final analysis, then, abortion rights are simply being used as a moral and ethical pretext for the wholesale and indiscriminate murder of newborns.

Presumably fathers, who have no say in abortion because of a woman’s bodily autonomy, would now have a right to murder an unwanted baby in order to escape the ‘economic burden’ of child support. While such a move would balance out the current inequity in paternal rights, it is an equality born in the pit of hell.

We have moved beyond the musings of an isolated radical such as Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton University and have, with this article, the evidence that such thinking has found a comfortable niche in the medical mainstream, as the article passed peer review and the exacting standards of the editorial board at a mainstream medical ethics journal. In so doing, they have all outdone the wildest excesses of Julius Streicher.

By 1938, Julius Streicher was too much even for Hitler’s inner-circle, and was marginalized. What is incredible is that not even Streicher at his worst sank to the depths of such indiscriminate, blood-thirsty depravity in calling for infanticide as a function of nothing more than parental whim. Even Streicher had standards, such as they were. For Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva, hate-filled tirades are entirely unnecessary. For them, all that is necessary for infanticide is ice-cold indifference and detachment. Anti-semitic screeds and wild fulminations are so twentieth century.

People such as Singer, Giubilini, and Minerva have forfeit their membership in the ranks of civilized, moral, and ethical academics. Having argued against the two-patient model of medical care in obstetrics, which sees the fetus as a patient, they have now set their sights on the standards of pediatric medicine, which sees the newborn as an autonomous human being meriting all the rights of any other patient. Such a standard, if adopted, must necessarily be applied in every area of medicine where a patient of any age is dependant on others. When the comfort of the provider is the only standard for judging murder as a solution, how could it not?

In Part II, we’ll see the authors’ justifications for redefining infanticide in this paper which reads like a prosecutor’s exhibit from the Nuremberg trials, or to quote the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Defining deviancy down.”

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The twentieth century saw the greatest advances made in science, technology, and medicine that the world has ever known. Building on the conceptual discoveries of the previous three centuries, we have wrought wonders unimagined in every decade of that century, and continue on unabated in this new century and new millennium. If there has been a down side to all of that fast-paced discovery, it has been the fact that the technological developments have come faster than humanity could process their implications and discern their right use, or whether they ought to be used at all.

Consider this quote from former Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass, M.D., in Human Cloning and Human Dignity, The Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Though dealing specifically with cloning, the principles discussed apply equally to a host of issues.:

“We should not be self-deceived about our ability to set limits on the exploitation of nascent life. What disturbs us today we quickly or eventually get used to; yesterday’s repugnance gives way to tomorrow’s endorsement. A society that already tolerates the destruction of fetuses in the second and third trimesters will hardly be horrified by embryo and fetus farming (including in animal wombs), if this should turn out to be helpful in the cure of dreaded diseases.

“We realize, of course, that many proponents of cloning-for-biomedical-research will recommend regulations designed to prevent just such abuses (that is, the expansion of research to later-stage cloned embryos and fetuses). Refusing to erect a red light to stop research cloning, they will propose various yellow lights intended to assure ourselves that we are proceeding with caution, limits, or tears. Paradoxically, however, the effect might actually be to encourage us to continue proceeding with new (or more hazardous) avenues of research; for, believing that we are being cautious, we have a good conscience about what we do, and we are unable to imagine ourselves as people who could take a morally disastrous next step. We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

There were four great “divisions” or “splittings” that technology produced in the twentieth century. Each had catastrophic consequences that have contributed to the corrosion of civilization. Each involves the severing of unitive bonds with an uncontrolled release of energy that has been every bit as destructive as the intact bonds are productive. Three of these have been particularly catastrophic for women.

The first great splitting came at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, when the Anglican Church split away from the rest of Christendom and became the first Christian church to embrace artificial contraception. Never before had any Christian church held that the splitting, or separation of the Unitive and Procreative dimensions of marital sex was moral. Over the next few decades most all other Christian churches followed the Anglicans, with catastrophic consequences.

Looking at the moral and familial disintegration occurring in the churches who embraced contraception, as well as those quarters of the Catholic Church where the same was occurring, Pope Paul VI, in 1968, penned Humanae Vitae, the binding encyclical that explicated and reinforced 2,000 years of Catholic teaching about the beauty and sanctity of sex as designed by God in His order for creation. It also warned of the consequences of splitting the unitive from the procreative. Those who have suffered the most have been women, as contraception frees men to follow their most base and animal instincts, making of women’s bodies mere playthings.

What contraception cannot eliminate is the brain biochemistry of women where sex releases the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in producing feelings of bondedness and belonging. It doesn’t take too much violation of the bondedness to induce cynicism, apathy, and despair. If indeed there was a war between the sexes in the 1960’s, the pill did nothing but intensify it and add dimensions that never before existed.

The second great splitting was that of the atom; specifically, the splitting of the atomic nucleus. The bonds that hold the nuclear particles together are so strong that a grapefruit-sized amount of Uranium whose nuclei are split, through fission as it is called, can produce enough energy in an uncontrolled reaction to blow up a city. When the scientists of the Manhattan Project in World War II wanted to slow down and discuss the ethical implications of the bomb they had just invented, they were rebuffed by a military weary of the World War it had been fighting for close to four years, and saw it as the means to avoid millions of casualties in an invasion of the Japanese home islands. The rest is history.

The third great splitting that occurred came in the late 1970’s with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, eggs are taken from the mother’s ovaries and sperm is collected from the father (who is given a plastic cup and ushered to a private setting for self-expression). The gametes are then mixed in a Petri dish by a lab technician and fertilization occurs. The dozens of embryos thus produced are graded and sorted. The least viable-looking are simply discarded. The best are implanted in the mother’s womb, and the rest are submerged and frozen in liquid nitrogen at –320 degrees F.

A tragic consequence of this splitting is the consent of the desperate mother to this barbaric treatment of her offspring, often not perceived as such by the woman whose desperation blinds her.

If contraception split the unitive from the procreative dimensions of the marital embrace, then IVF has gone further to split the procreative dimension itself by actually negating the need for a marital embrace at all. It also introduced the first division of motherhood’s integrated unity. IVF removes the events of fertilization from within the mother and posits them in the Petri dish. In splitting the marital embrace, husband and wife are reduced from co-creators with God to the role of mere sideline observers in the laboratory as the technicians go about the work of procreation by being the agents who facilitate the union of egg and sperm.

In very short order sperm and egg donation in IVF expanded to any permutation of donors. Couples (many not even married) were engaging in eugenic creations of babies by soliciting sperm and egg donors from Ivy League students. If IVF was the technology for couples with problems rooted in the pathophysiology of conception, the next logical accommodation was made for those where women could not, or would not, carry a baby to term.

That accommodation was the fourth great splitting of the twentieth-century: Surrogate Motherhood. Surrogate motherhood takes the integrated unity of normal female reproduction and divides it across two (or more) women. In the case of the married couple, IVF is performed and then a surrogate is solicited to accept implantation of the embryo and gestate the child for the couple. Surrogates are paid in the tens of thousands of dollars for their services.

The problem with surrogate motherhood is that it isn’t.

It isn’t surrogacy. It’s a critical component of what is supposed to be an integrated physiological process of reproduction.

The legal and ethical communities quickly agreed that the mother was the egg donor for IVF who contracted the services of the surrogate. In my senior thesis in college I argued against this understanding, and remain opposed to it today. A child may now have five parents: egg donor, sperm donor, married couple who procured said egg and sperm for IVF, and surrogate (gestational mother).

Many Catholic bioethicists posit motherhood in the egg donor who is also the married (or not) woman procuring IVF and the services of the surrogate.

It’s a huge mistake to take so simplified a view.

The truth of the matter is that both egg donor and gestational mother are the biological mothers of the child. To say, ethically, that the “real” mother is the egg donor is to blind oneself to the nine months of embryonic and fetal development that occur in the womb. The bondedness of mother and child have as their most proximal and powerful origins the mutual growth together during nine months of gestation, and not the more distal ovulation and fertilization (which the egg donor does not participate in with IVF).

Motherhood is more, much more, than the donation of half an individual’s chromosomal content. If Catholic bioethicists cannot see that nine months of gestation are the second half of the biological equation and produce an intimacy and union between woman and child, an intimacy forged within the created order of gestation, then we are in trouble.

The truth is that God’s created order has been artificially divided within women. First with the division wrought by contraception, which makes of women the very sex objects inveighed against by the feminists of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Then, the integrated unity of the procreative dimension of human sexuality itself is split by IVF and further subdivided by surrogacy, with the end result being that two women can each claim a biological component of motherhood: fertilization and gestation.

Specifically, the baby’s growth and development are all facilitated by the woman in whose womb the child grows. The baby is literally bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh. Lost in all of this technological revolution has been the great dignity of women and motherhood. (We’ll save the discussion on men and fatherhood for another day)

To add further to the disintegration, motherhood has been completely commodified, from the sale of eggs for thousands of dollars, to paid surrogates. Our women have been dismantled and their parts and functions sold to the highest bidders. All of this in the name of a feminism that sought freedom from women’s biology, which was held out to them as nature’s chains of oppression.

Just because we can do something does not mean that we ought to. In forty years we have slowly and imperceptibly come to a place most of us never thought we would come to. When the created order of human bonds is split, the destruction is every bit as catastrophic as the splitting of the bonds that unite the atomic nucleus. The prophets of the twentieth-century have been the Catholic popes and bishops, who have been ridiculed mercilessly. Looking at the ever-widening debris field, perhaps it’s time for another consideration of their unitive message.

Kass was quite correct:

“We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

To all of the mothers who give great witness through their loving sacrifices, their example of faith, and to those who came to motherhood through a process of disintegration the pain of childlessness blinded them to,

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Recently, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dropped her guard and gave the American people a good insight into how it is that Obamacare will ultimately stay solvent: The nonexistence of patients who, not being alive, cannot make claims upon the system.

From CNSNews.com

During the subcommittee hearing, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said that contraception provided by insurance companies to people employed by religious organizations under the future form of the rule Sebelius described would not be was not free.

“Who pays for it? There’s no such thing as a free service,” Murphy asked.

Sebelius responded that that is not the case with insurance.

“The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for cost of contraception,” Sebelius answered.

Murphy expressed surprise by the answer.

“So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?” Murphy asked.

Sebelius replied, “Providing contraception is a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children.”

Murphy again sought clarification.

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back,” he said.

Sebelius responded, “Family planning is a critical health benefit in this country, according to the Institute of Medicine.”

See and hear Sebelius in her own words:

Now this week comes word that the Congessional Budget Office estimates Obamacare will cost twice its originally promised cost. News also comes of the return of what Sarah Palin dubbed, “Death Panels” for healthcare rationing. Far from right wing flights of fancy, these realities already exist in chilling bureaucratic routine across the nation in hospital committees who decide when patients have used too many resources, and in Oregon’s health care system where the government decides when a patient’s remaining quality of life justifies the expense of keeping them alive.

Here is the ABC News article about one such patient, Barbara Wagner. It is a portal into the national future.

Adding fuel to the fire is the issue of states increasingly strained by the growing number of civil service pensioners who do their 20 years and retire on full pensions.

Add to that the Social Security insolvency.

It becomes clear that Sebelius has not so much committed a gaffe as she has revealed the solution her fellow travelers see to our insolvency issues: decreasing the number of claimants on the system decreases the system’s expenditures. Nonexistence of humans on the front end of the life spectrum will fund the cost of the HHS contraception mandate through the offsetting of the non-conceived human’s non-claims on the system. Applying the same thinking on the other end of the life spectrum will realize a bumper crop of savings for local, state, and the federal government when civil service pensioners are denied life-saving services, or have them delayed long enough in rationing lines in the hopes that the patient will be overtaken by the disease while waiting.

Being a Pacific Northwestern Governor, Sarah Palin looked to one of her closest neighbors, Oregon, and saw clearly the future of the pro-abortion, anti-life, rabidly eugenic left wing. It is far easier to cull the herd than grow the economy, especially in a political party that is opposed to all known and practical sources of energy; to a political party that has made a central plank of their platform the reduction of the world’s population.

We are a nation in serious, serious trouble.

To only blame the Obama administration or the Democrat Party is to miss the fact that sufficient numbers of Americans agree with these people. Far too many uphold the right for someone else to slaughter their child, even though they are personally opposed to doing so.

So many uphold he right of others to force doctors to perform manslaughter through physician-assisted suicide, even if it violates the doctor’s conscience.

So many uphold the forcing of all medical students to perform abortions against their consciences.

So many uphold the forcing of religious institutions and private businesses to purchase contraceptives against their consciences.

90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, with costs to the parents and the ‘system’ cited by physicians and genetic counselors in a coercive campaign to rid the world of these “defectives”.

Far too many in this nation support the coercion of physicians and private citizens to do the government’s bidding when doing so violates consciences formed by thousands of years of civilized precepts. Now we have established that private and institutional conscience is the property of the state, the state is taking full advantage of the opportunity to advance its agenda.

Hitler never could have accomplished his malignant agenda without the support of the German people in sufficient numbers. It takes more than a village, it takes a nation to be good or evil. Today, our nation balances on a razor’s edge.

It will take more than the November elections to turn things around. It’s going to take the realization of what is at stake. It’s no longer someone else’s ox getting gored.

We’re all in peril.

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Hot on the heels of our medical conference last Saturday, Therapeutic Advances in Poor Prenatal Diagnoses, comes this letter from Archbishop Chaput to the people of his archdiocese. Opposition to this new eugenics is swelling all over the nation. Here is a bishop who makes me proud of my Church.

Earlier this week local media covered the story of Amelia Rivera, a young girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome reportedly denied a kidney transplant by a local hospital. Amelia’s syndrome results in serious developmental delays, and according to her parents, the hospital declined a transplant due to her diminished mental ability and shortened lifespan.

It’s unwise to assume that news media get all the details of a story like this right, or that the motives of an entire hospital’s leadership and staff are as unfeeling as an individual doctor might seem. Nonetheless, a couple of things are worth noting. First, Amelia’s parents are persons who love their daughter zealously for who she is, and who know the beauty and dignity of her life despite her disability. Second, the habit of treating genetically disabled children as somehow less worthy of life is growing across the country.

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18, which is extremely serious. Prenatal testing can now detect a high percentage of pregnancies with a risk of genetic problems.

The tests often aren’t conclusive. But they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, for example, now get terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, but merely undesirable.

The older a woman gets, the higher her risk of bearing a child with special needs. And so, in medical offices around the country, pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of a genetic flaw based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But, as my friends know from experience, too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits, or managing costs, or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool.

In practice, medical professionals can now steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects. And the most debased thing about that kind of pressure is that doctors know better than anyone else how vulnerable a woman can be in hearing potentially tragic news about her unborn baby.

I’m not suggesting that doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents. Nor should they paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has a disability. Facts and resources are crucial in helping adult persons prepare themselves for difficult challenges. But doctors, genetic counselors and medical school professors should have on staff – or at least on speed dial – experts of a different sort.

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective.

Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith.

Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with special needs can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with special needs can be demanding. It always involves some degree of suffering. Parents grow up very fast. None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism.

It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that forces its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. None of us is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear.

That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.

This Sunday, January 22, marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legitimized permissive abortion around the country. More than 45 million abortions later, the damage of that decision continues to grow — undermining our reverence for the life not just of unborn children but of the mentally and physically disabled as well.

We need to understand that if some lives are regarded as unworthy, respect for all life is at risk. We should pray that Amelia Rivera gets the help she needs, and that God surrounds her parents with the support they need.

And especially this week, more than ever, we should recommit ourselves to defending the dignity of all human life, no matter how “flawed” it may seem in the eyes of the world.

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Word comes this week that Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan received a telephone call from President Obama stating that the Catholic Church would not receive an exemption from the requirement to purchase contraception for its employees. Cardinal Dolan is less than enthused:

“It’s not about contraception. It’s about the right of conscience.”

“The government doesn’t have the right to butt into the internal governance and teachings of the church. This is not a Catholic issue, it’s an American issue. We’re strong on this issue of conscience, and that’s what’s at stake here.”

“While I appreciate his courtesy Friday morning to give me a call with the somber news, I had to tell him I was terribly let down, disappointed and disturbed.”

Yes, Eminence, it is about conscience where Obama and the Federal Government are concerned, but it’s about much, much more within the Catholic Church.

It’s about the contending issues of fidelity and narcissism that have torn the Church to pieces over the past fifty years, reducing a once-powerful and respected constituency to a laughingstock in many political circles. Obama’s actions and posture toward the Church, even the election of such a man, would have been unthinkable twenty-five years ago. His declaration to Cardinal Dolan was less a declaration of war than the final, sickening realization that we have had the terms of our self-incarceration dictated to us by the man who embodies all that we have become as a people.

In my 51 years, I have witnessed Mass attendance drop to 1/3 of what it was when I was a child. Since my twelfth year of life, we have butchered more than 54 million unborn babies, millions of them in their Catholic mothers’ wombs. My generation advanced the sexual revolution and spread AIDS like wildfire. Yes many of us have repented of our earlier sins and have pursued virtue, but many of us have not properly formed our children out of misplaced guilt and mistaken notions of what constitutes hypocrisy.

I can’t remember EVER hearing a homily on contraception or John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I can count on two hands the number of homilies I have heard on abortion, and none, NONE on what makes for a sacramental marriage.

For as bad as it has been, the sex abuse scandal has been the LEAST damaging issue for the Church. That was a very small fraction of our priests, less than 4%. Our marriages are in free-fall, our children torn apart by divorce.

At every step of the way, rejection of what the Church teaches has been behind the disintegration. At every step of the way, we have elected increasingly radical politicians. There is a causal relationship in that pattern.

There is no “Catholic Vote.”

Enter Obama and Dolan.

Their contention, and our current condition, could be viewed as presaged by Abraham Lincoln nearly two-hundred years ago:

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions:
Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838

This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

We are dying by suicide. We are killing our babies by abortion, and now our elderly in increasing numbers through passive and active euthanasia. The preservation of resources and lifestyle are the leading reasons offered up.

Malignant Narcissism and Hedonism.

That there is reason to believe Obama could actually be re-elected indicates we passed the conscience issue long ago. Conscience was determined in our last presidential election. We elected Obama knowing full-well his declared intent.

This election will determine whether or not we’re content with our chains.

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