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Archive for the ‘Pro-Life Academy’ Category

Part I here.

After this post, we’ll gather on Wednesday’s and Saturdays for new posts in this series.

Charles Darwin never knew about DNA, or genes, or genetics. DNA and protein, as well as the debate about which was the genetic material came after Darwin. The definitive experiment showing DNA as the genetic material was performed in 1952 by Hershey and Chase, a mere eight years before I was born. No, Darwin didn’t have any of the knowledge that contaminates our perspective on him. We can be so smug and self-assured when we look back on Darwin and his contemporaries.

To do this conversation justice, we must enter into Darwin’s world as it was, and see that world through his eyes.

Young Darwin was actually a medical student who became taken with the field of natural history. It was a dynamic age in naturalism and, contrary to popular belief, Darwin was NOT the first to propose that life evolved. There were actually many before him, many who backed down under threats of excommunication from civil society and some from their churches. The most prominent proponent who advanced a scientific hypothesis of evolution was Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck. We know him today simply as, Lamarck.

Lamarck lived from 1744-1729, dying two years before twenty-two year-old Charles Darwin would set sail on his famous five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. Lamarck proposed that life evolved by organisms developing adaptations to their environment and then passing them on to their offspring. Today he is remembered in most biology classes as the fool who got it wrong. In reality, Lamarck was a brilliant invertebrate biologist who coined both the terms invertebrate and biology. Lamarck established most of the taxonomic trees for invertebrates, and is widely regarded in the field as one of the fathers of the field. Back to Darwin.

As a young and budding naturalist, Darwin was afforded the opportunity to sail aboard the HMS Beagle in 1831 (Recall that Darwin would not publish Origin of the Species until 1859). It was a time of great exploration and scientific documentation of the flora and fauna of distant lands, of geology and anthropology. The discovery of fossils and the observations of sedimentary rock containing those fossils was a hot topic. It was observed that sediments form at certain rates, and that sedimentary layers of rock could not have formed in the time since Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC, which was Bishop Usher’s biblical calculation of when the world was created.

The concept of geologic time outside of Bishop Usher’s frame was pointing toward a planet that was hundreds of millions of years old, at the least. Fossil evidence, it was further noted, indicated that the deepest sedimentary layers had the most primitive looking organisms, while organisms generally increased in size and complexity in the newer, more surface sedimentary layers.

Darwin carried with him on the Beagle Volume 1 of Principles of Geology, by the foremost geologist of the day, Charles Lyell. Darwin received Volume 2 when he reached South America. Lyell had Darwin do investigations for him, and it is fair to say that Darwin came away much more convinced of evolution based on the geology than did Lyell. In fact, Lyell disagreed with Darwin, and only gave grudging and tepid acceptance of modification by natural selection after Origin of the Species was published. Lyell would write in his 1863 book, Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man that it remained a profound mystery how man bridged the evolutionary divide between himself and the beasts. So not all scientists were of one accord in Darwin’s day, not even his great friend Lyell.

Regarding Darwin’s famous voyage on HMS Beagle, I’m rereading it for the first time in years. However, there is an excellent site with an interactive map of Darwin’s voyage that nicely summarizes each phase of the journey.

Get it here.

It’s worth doing a little reading at that site, as we’ll begin to systematize Darwin’s findings in our next post.

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It’s time that this blog tackle the issue of Charles Darwin, evolution, and the Culture of Death as they relate to one another. I’ll probably succeed in pleasing nobody on any side of this debate, but it’s a discussion that needs to be had by pro-lifers. The issue of Darwinian evolution evokes rather strong sentiments, and I welcome them all. In the words of Churchill, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

So, where do we begin? I’d like to begin with the science and then proceed to the philosophical and anthropological consequences.

First, I am a molecular biologist, and I thank God every day for the window into His creative mind that science has given me. If there is one thing that I can say with absolute certitude it is this:

Life Evolves!

That is a wholly separate issue from the question of how life began, and we’ll tackle those issues as well in later posts. However, for now it suffices to say that Darwin and I both happened on the scene quite some time after the appearance of life on this planet and that we both see the evidence for change over time.

It’s hard to see the evidence for change in humans over time, if only because we don’t live long enough to witness it first-hand. That’s why biologists who study evolution like to use organisms with short generation times. Fruit flys have generation times that are mere weeks, and bacteria such as E. coli reproduce every 20 minutes in liquid growth medium when grown at human body temperature.

It’s much easier to see genetic changes over the generations in an organism that reproduces every 20 minutes than in organisms that reproduce every 20 years.

At the cellular and molecular level, we see that DNA recombines in sexually reproducing organisms to create a riot of uniquely different members of the species. This enables the species to survive if some lethal threat arises that some members happen to be resistant to. We see this with antibiotic resistance in bacteria (which do not reproduce sexually).

Perhaps one in a billion bacterial cells might have acquired a mutation, or a gene from another species, that makes the cell resistant to a certain antibiotic (which are made by other organisms). When we take antibiotics, the drug kills the cells that are susceptible and leaves behind the ones that have developed resistance. These cells grow back in the presence of the drug. Over time, with excessive use of that antibiotic in a community, we see that almost all people coming to the hospital with an infection to be afflicted with antibiotic resistant strains.

The resistant strain has become the new norm.

That’s evolution, the endless cycle of mutation, adaptation, reproduction.

The evidence for evolution is so abundant that evolution has become biology’s prism through which all else is filtered. And that leads to evolution rising to the level of a Theory.

In everyday language, the words opinion, theory, idea, belief, hypothesis, conjecture, all tend to be used interchangeably to denote the cognitions of a single individual. In science, the same words have vastly different meaning.

A well-informed idea is called a Hypothesis. We design experiments to test the hypothesis, and the experiments must be designed in such a way that the hypothesis is open to being disproved.

When the same hypothesis is proven repeatedly and universally, it rises to the level of scientific Theory. There are only a handful of ideas that have risen to that level. Einstein’s Relativity is one.

When Theory has all of the wrinkles ironed out, it rises to the level of a scientific Law, and there are only a handful of those: The laws of Thermodynamics and Gravity being examples.

So when we say that Darwinian evolution is a scientific theory, we mean that there is a mountain of evidence to support that idea.

Was Darwin a racist or eugenist? We’ll consider that separately as we tease apart the science of evolution from the philosophical and political consequences that flow from the misapplication of the scientific reality. Today’s blog was just the opening round.

Next time: The core biological ideas surrounding evolution by means of natural selection. It would help if people posted comments here, and not just on FB, as not everyone reading the blog comes through FB. Thanks.

Also, Darwin is getting his own Category in the box on the right.

{Serendipity moment. After publishing this post, WordPress tells me it was the 666th post published on my blog. That ought to mean something to Darwin’s detractors ;-) }

Part II here.

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There has been confusion of late concerning the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listing for their Group 1 Carcinogens, including several forms of oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement therapy. The confusion has arisen because the original link by WHO has been changed. After some sleuthing, here is a treasure trove of information from WHO. Let’s take the links one at a time.

First are the IARC Group Classifications for agents and their degrees of carcinogenicity:

Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans (107 agents)

Group 2A Probably carcinogenic to humans (59 agents)

Group 2B Possibly carcinogenic to humans (267 agents)

Group 3 Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (508 agents)

Group 4 Probably not carcinogenic to humans (1 agent)

The definitions of these groups may be found in the IARC Monograph Preamble on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Click here.

The page with links to the agents by various classification schemes may be found here.

The actual list of all agents, (IN Group number order) beginning with the following known (Group 1) carcinogens containing:

Estrogen therapy, postmenopausal
Estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy (combined)
Estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives

may be found by clicking here.

The same estrogens may be found on the list that lists them in alphabetical order with Group number next to their name. Click here.

Going much, much deeper…

There is another link that shows the monographs on:

1. Exposure Data
2. Studies of Cancer in Humans
3. Studies of Cancer in Experimental Animals
4. Other Data Relevant to an Evaluation of Carcinogenicity and its Mechanisms
5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation
6. References

for each of the following:

Oral Contraceptives, combined
Hormonal Contraceptives, Progestogens Only
Post-Menopausal Estrogen Therapy
Post-Menopausal Estrogen-Progestogen Therapy

The link to this page (which contains all the links to the monographs) may be found here.

Hopefully, this helps. Contrary to rumor, WHO did not hide the data, but actually expanded it in new links. Remember that even small increases in risk when multiplied by hundreds of millions of women taking these drugs will produce large absolute new cases of breast cancer.

P.S. Here is a monograph on all of the known carcinogens: Click here.

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Over at Jill Stanek’s blog a debate between a pro-abort troll and the pro-lifers has developed, a debate over what the name “Fetus” means and what sort of rights issue forth from that name’s definition.

This is a massive blunder that pro-lifers get sucked into about 3,000 times a day. The dignity of the person does not issue forth from the meaning of an ancient Latin word, neither does the dignity of the organism depend on some arbitrarily line drawn across the developmental continuum. When presented with this losing argument by proaborts, we need to counter by reframing the question around objective reality and not get sucked into this quagmire.

My response to the proabort named Doug:

I’m a biologist, and we’re the ones who name things. Often we (men) name things after our wives (and since I’m a microbiologist, Mrs. Nadal has assured me that the day I ever name a disease after her is the day that she serves me with divorce papers).

Therefore, nomenclature can be an entirely arbitrary endeavor that is not descriptive of the biological entity before us.

For example, Escherichia coli (E. coli) does not look at all like Dr. Theodor Escherich who discovered it. (Trust me on this one. I’ve looked at lots of E. coli under the scope.) Nevertheless, Dr. Escherich spent his life saving people, and while some E. coli are normal gut flora without which we would die, some that have acquired some pretty nasty genes can kill us in a matter of days (the dreaded 0157:H7).

So not even a namesake necessarily shares the function of the one whose name it bears.

The same with developmental nomenclature. The reality of the embryological or fetal organism is not governed by its name any more than the benign/killer natures of Escherichia strains are a function of that sainted physician’s name.

“Fetus” describes a developmental stage shared by many organisms in the animal kingdom. Thus, there is nothing particularly human about the word for a biologist. Thus the word is hardly descriptive of human reality. (Pro-lifers don’t go to war over the deaths of fetal pigs, which are used by the tens of thousands in biology labs annually)

The truth here is that a human organism has a defined life cycle which begins at the moment of fertilization of a human egg (mother’s gametic tissue) by a human sperm (father’s gametic tissue) and becomes a new entity which is neither mother, nor father’s gametic tissue, but a stand-alone organism. A new human animal with its own unique genetic identity.

The rights attendant to that new animal derive from the kind of animal it is (human). If one disagrees with this fundamental premise, then one would not be at all disturbed by the happenings at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s office. Further, one would not be any more bothered at the thought of saving those fetuses for a dissection lab than one would at the thought of using fetal pigs. For that matter, it would be an interesting lab to dissect a fetal human side-by-side with a fetal pig.

But I’m sure the very thought of that wrenches the gut of even the most strident proabort, and the question is:

Why?

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As we prepare for the best of all birthdays, a peek into the beauty of the womb, courtesy of the Endowment for Human Development. There are three separate videos. Just hit play for each below and enjoy.

Be sure to have your volume turned up for the narration.

1. Play Movie

2. Play Movie

3. Play Movie

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As the relative quiescence of the blog in recent weeks will attest, there has been a great deal going on that has kept me from posting, and I am truly sorry for the interruption of our ongoing discussion of EMBRYO. To Chapter 3, Dualism.

We need a little primer with some of the language that undergirds this chapter, specifically a discussion of essence and accidents. Before proceeding, I must confess that while I studied philosophy as a second major in college, that’s sand lot baseball and this is the major leagues. I invite Dr. Tollefsen to correct me if I fail in any way to present the philosophy accurately. This is his baby (no pun intended) from here.

Accidents- This is not the colloquial understanding of a mishap, but rather a description of an objects discernable characteristics: height, weight, shape, color, texture, material composition etc.

Essence- Perhaps a spice combination used by celebrity chef Emeril, but in philosophy a statement encompassing the very idea of what an object is, the very concept of the thing.

For example, we all know a chair when we see one, yet there are untold numbers of different types/models/styles of chair; everything from a simple wooden kitchen set chair, to a formal dining room chair, to an upholstered recliner. All are very different in material composition, texture, color, style, etc. Yet, they all share one essence: chairness.

This is an important exercise in metaphysics as we turn our attention from chairs to humans and human development: The essential “Gerard” relative to the accidental “Gerard” (who has added a few ‘accidental’ pounds since he got married 171/2 years ago).

Now, the authors take us into some rather challenging thought regarding the essential ‘me’ vs. the accidental ‘me’, which leads to a discussion of the philosophical error that is dualism. As regarding human beings, a common perception is that the essential ‘me’ is the mind/soul while the accidental ‘me’ is the body in which the soul resides and from which it is liberated at death. The authors quite correctly refute this understanding, not only in light of the resurrection of the body, but in asserting that “we are also essentially bodily, organic beings, part of the physical world, with biological lives essential, not accidental, to our existence.
The error of dualism plays itself in the area of embryo ethics. The organism need not exhibit all of its potentialities all the time to be the essential organism, the kind of thing that it is. To suggest that the kind of thing something is depends on some function yet to be performed, some accidental feature yet to be developed, is a grave error.

The authors go on to describe several types of dualism: mind-body, soul-body, Lockean, brain-body, and Constitutionalism. Under constitutionalism, the organic body/animal precedes the person’s existence, and in many cases, outlives the person. So here the human person is constituted by, but not identical to the human animal. Moral dualism will be further explored in chapter 5. In brief, it suggests that humans may come into existence at fertilization, but do not become worthy of moral respect (become persons) until some later stage of development.

The authors then go on to present some compelling argumentation against dualism, which we will pick up this Thursday in a second post on this chapter. I’m uncertain as to how people have understood the material in chapter 3, so I’ll draw the line here and see where the discussion takes us.

It’s good to be back.

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Note: As we progress though this book, I shall close the comments on the previous week’s post once the current post goes up. By all means continue any ongoing conversations. This will streamline our conversations by restricting them to one thread. So, Last week’s comments are closed. We’re open for business on this week’s post. My thanks to co-author Dr. Tollefsen for checking in and aiding us in our discussions. He’s writing under ‘CT’.

There is no way for me to condense all of the biology that the authors present in Chapter 2, Fertilization. They discuss a great deal about which much has been written here. Click here for several lessons in mitosis, meiosis and fertilization. Apart from the recapitulation of the biological fundamentals, I wish to bring out of the chapter a few key points made by the authors.

First, the biology presented in the chapter is flawless! For any who would suggest that perhaps a couple of philosophers miss nuanced features of biology which might lead them into erroneous conclusions, let me state as a molecular biologist that this chapter could easily be mistaken to have been written by an embryologist.

Fertilization

Recalling that the sperm contains half the number of chromosomes and the egg the other half, these two haploid cells join to form a diploid cell, the zygote. A question arises asking when the zygote comes into being. Is it upon penetration of the egg by the sperm, or when the two gametic nuclei join to form a diploid nucleus? Some say the latter, but I tend to agree with the authors in claiming the former, since, as they rightly point out, that after penetration of the egg by the sperm, both gametes cease to be (both structurally and functionally) as they were before. They form a new entity, both structurally and functionally.

Both sperm and egg exist as such as parental tissue types. When joined, a new biological organism comes into existence, with its own unique genetic identity and intrinsically unfolding developmental trajectory.

Despite the slight differences of opinion, the authors note that, “…there is widespread agreement among embryologists both that a new human individual comes into existence when there is a single, unified, and self-integrated biological system, and that this happens no later than syngamy.” (Syngamy=The lining up of the 23 pairs of chromosomes.)

The authors then run us through the various stages of embryological development:

Zygote, cleavage, morula, blastula, gastrula, up to the formation of what is known as the primitive streak. Prior to this, the embryo is capable of twinning, an issue that will be dealt with substantially in chapter 6.

Twinning is an important issue in development, as some would posit that prior to this stage, an individual does not exist. However, the authors quote a number of embryology texts which mark fertilization, not gastrulation, as the beginning of a new human individual.

The events of development described by the authors can be viewed in both 4D sonograms and fiber-optic videography at The Endowment for Human Development.

The authors go on to make several points about the human embryo:

1. It is distinct from any maternal or paternal cell. It is growing and has its own distinct direction.

2. The embryo is human, with a genetic make-up characteristic of human beings.

3, The embryo is a complete or whole organism, though immature.

The bottom line: A human embryo is not something different in kind from a human being. A human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his/her natural development.

Are embryos produced by in vitro fertilization and cloning still human organisms?

The authors say ‘yes’.

For IVF embryos, they are the product of sperm and egg union in a Petri dish rather than a fallopian tube.

For cloned embryos, they are the result of an egg that has had its haploid nucleus replaced by a diploid nucleus from a diploid body cell. The resultant ‘clonote’ (as opposed to naturally occurring zygote) functions as any embryo. Because they are the same as any other embryo, they ought to enjoy the same moral worth as any embryo.

Those are the chapter highlights. Chris, if I missed anything, my apologies. It’s been a hectic day.

There’s the red meat of all pro-life argumenation.

Discuss.

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APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

“This mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents. Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman’s “part”. In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman “discovers herself through a sincere gift of self”. The gift of interior readiness to accept the child and bring it into the world is linked to the marriage union, which – as mentioned earlier – should constitute a special moment in the mutual self-giving both by the woman and the man. According to the Bible, the conception and birth of a new human being are accompanied by the following words of the woman: “I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord” (Gen 4:1).This exclamation of Eve, the “mother of all the living” is repeated every time a new human being comes into the world. It expresses the woman’s joy and awareness that she is sharing in the great mystery of eternal generation. The spouses share in the creative power of God!

“The woman’s motherhood in the period between the baby’s conception and birth is a bio-physiological and psychological process which is better understood in our days than in the past, and is the subject of many detailed studies. Scientific analysis fully confirms that the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood – conception, pregnancy and giving birth – which is a consequence of the marriage union with the man. At the same time, this also corresponds to the psycho-physical structure of women. What the different branches of science have to say on this subject is important and useful, provided that it is not limited to an exclusively bio-physiological interpretation of women and of motherhood. Such a “restricted” picture would go hand in hand with a materialistic concept of the human being and of the world. In such a case, what is truly essential would unfortunately be lost. Motherhood as a human fact and phenomenon, is fully explained on the basis of the truth about the person. Motherhood is linked to the personal structure of the woman and to the personal dimension of the gift: “I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord” (Gen 4:1). The Creator grants the parents the gift of a child. On the woman’s part, this fact is linked in a special way to “a sincere gift of self”. Mary’s words at the Annunciation – “Let it be to me according to your word” – signify the woman’s readiness for the gift of self and her readiness to accept a new life.”

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Quite a few people have asked if we could use the book EMBRYO: A Defense of Human Life, by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, for our Pro-Life Academy. Beginning March 16, (NEXT TUESDAY!!) we’ll discuss a chapter per week from this extraordinary book. Written in plain language, it gives an excellent biological description of development, as well as the philosophical and ethical arguments in favor of the embryo’s personhood. Check it out at Amazon. Order today!

We’ll be cross-posting with the folks over at Secular Pro-Life, as this book does not appeal to religion to make a compelling case for the human identity and status of the embryo.

BONUS: Coauthor Dr. Christopher Tollefsen has agreed to be with us during the time that we are reading his book. I met Dr. Tollefsen a few years ago and think he’s a terrific guy. He’s very approachable and able to get some pretty complex material described in simple, understandable language. We should have a good time with this.

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Pro-Life Academy every Tuesday and Thursday.

Two weeks from today we are going to turn our focus on the embryo toward the book EMBRYO: A Defense of Human Life, by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen. Check it out at Amazon. Order soon!

In the interim, I direct your attention to the Endowment for Human Development. Their stills and videos are the best ever compiled. Check out the movie theater there and marvel at the wonders of human development.

Thursday, more on the abortion/breast cancer link.

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In the great struggle between the Culture of Death and the Culture of Life, a propaganda war against the Church and her view of women has been waged with great success in many quarters. Several lies have become the food of feminists, a grotesque bread of life for their disciples to feed upon. This is the second of several articles that will systematically deconstruct the tissue of lies fabricated by the feminist radicals. We begin with the writings of Pope John Paul II, who loved women and was loved by them in return.

In this post, John Paul calls our attention to the radicalism of Jesus, how He broke with those cultural constraints that grew to create a deformation in the understanding of women’s dignity.

From:

APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

Women in the Gospel

13. As we scan the pages of the Gospel, many women, of different ages and conditions, pass before our eyes. We meet women with illnesses or physical sufferings, such as the one who had “a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself” (Lk 13:11); or Simon’s mother-in-law, who “lay sick with a fever” (Mk 1:30); or the woman “who had a flow of blood” (cf. Mk 5:25-34), who could not touch anyone because it was believed that her touch would make a person “impure”. Each of them was healed, and the last-mentioned – the one with a flow of blood, who touched Jesus’ garment “in the crowd” (Mk 5:27) – was praised by him for her great faith: “Your faith has made you well” (Mk 5:34). Then there is the daughter of Jairus, whom Jesus brings back to life, saying to her tenderly: “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41). There also is the widow of Nain, whose only son Jesus brings back to life, accompanying his action by an expression of affectionate mercy: “He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep!'”(Lk 7:13). And finally there is the Canaanite woman, whom Christ extols for her faith, her humility and for that greatness of spirit of which only a mother’s heart is capable. “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (Mt 15:28). The Canaanite woman was asking for the healing of her daughter.

Sometimes the women whom Jesus met and who received so many graces from him, also accompanied him as he journeyed with the Apostles through the towns and villages, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God; and they “provided for them out of their means”. The Gospel names Joanna, who was the wife of Herod’s steward, Susanna and “many others” (cf. Lk 8:1-3).

Sometimes women appear in the parables which Jesus of Nazareth used to illustrate for his listeners the truth about the Kingdom of God. This is the case in the parables of the lost coin (cf. Lk 15: 8-10), the leaven (cf. Mt 13:33), and the wise and foolish virgins (cf. Mt 25:1-13). Particularly eloquent is the story of the widow’s mite. While “the rich were putting their gifts into the treasury… a poor widow put in two copper coins”. Then Jesus said: “This poor widow has put in more than all of them… she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had” (Lk 21:1-4). In this way Jesus presents her as a model for everyone and defends her, for in the socio-juridical system of the time widows were totally defenceless people (cf. also Lk 18:1-7).

In all of Jesus’ teaching, as well as in his behaviour, one can find nothing which reflects the discrimination against women prevalent in his day. On the contrary, his words and works always express the respect and honour due to women. The woman with a stoop is called a “daughter of Abraham” (Lk 13:16), while in the whole Bible the title “son of Abraham” is used only of men. Walking the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha, Jesus will say to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me” (Lk 23:28). This way of speaking to and about women, as well as his manner of treating them, clearly constitutes an “innovation” with respect to the prevailing custom at that time.

This becomes even more explicit in regard to women whom popular opinion contemptuously labelled sinners, public sinners and adulteresses. There is the Samaritan woman, to whom Jesus himself says: “For you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband”. And she, realizing that he knows the secrets of her life, recognizes him as the Messiah and runs to tell her neighbours. The conversation leading up to this realization is one of the most beautiful in the Gospel (cf. Jn 4:7-27).

Then there is the public sinner who, in spite of her condemnation by common opinion, enters into the house of the Pharisee to anoint the feet of Jesus with perfumed oil. To his host, who is scandalized by this, he will say: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (cf. Lk 7:37-47).

Finally, there is a situation which is perhaps the most eloquent: a woman caught in adulterv is brought to Jesus. To the leading question “In the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”, Jesus replies: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. The power of truth contained in this answer is so great that “they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest”. Only Jesus and the woman remain. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. “No one, Lord”. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (cf. Jn 8:3-11).

These episodes provide a very clear picture. Christ is the one who “knows what is in man” (cf. Jn 2:25) – in man and woman. He knows the dignity of man, his worth in God’s eyes. He himself, the Christ, is the definitive confirmation of this worth. Everything he says and does is definitively fulfilled in the Paschal Mystery of the Redemption. Jesus’ attitude to the women whom he meets in the course of his Messianic service reflects the eternal plan of God, who, in creating each one of them, chooses her and loves her in Christ (cf. Eph 1:1-5). Each woman therefore is “the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake”. Each of them from the “beginning” inherits as a woman the dignity of personhood. Jesus of Nazareth confirms this dignity, recalls it, renews it, and makes it a part of the Gospel and of the Redemption for which he is sent into the world. Every word and gesture of Christ about women must therefore be brought into the dimension of the Paschal Mystery. In this way everything is completely explained.

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By Popular Demand

Quite a few people have asked if we could use the book EMBRYO: A Defense of Human Life, by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, for our Pro-Life Academy. Beginning March 16, we’ll discuss a chapter per week from this extraordinary book. Written in plain language, it gives an excellent biological description of development, as well as the philosophical and ethical arguments in favor of the embryo’s personhood. Check it out at Amazon. Order soon!

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If you missed Part I last week, read it here.

In the past lesson we saw that the hormones estrogen and progesterone are responsible for normal breast development in an adolescent girl’s menstrual cycles. Birth control pills have extremely high levels of these hormones which mimic the elevated levels of the hormones during pregnancy. In either case, the breasts are stimulated to develop numerous extra cancer-prone Type-1 and Type-2 lobules with doubling of the number of ductules on each lobule. Today we consider the mechanism (we love that word in biology), or how, these situations give rise to cancers.

In past lessons we covered mitosis. During mitosis, DNA is replicated. When this happens, errors in DNA synthesis occur. Sometimes the errors escape the notice of a proofreading molecule that corrects these errors. When the repair crews come in they can make mistakes which lead to permanent mutation. If such a mutation occurs in certain cancer-causing genes, as illustrated in the diagram to he left, that cell is in danger of becoming cancerous.

Type-1 and Type-2 cells have greater numbers of receptors to bind estrogen and progesterone, which precipitates the DNA synthesis. The more these cells are stimulated, the greater the chance that the requisite number of mutations in a cell will be reached leading to cancer, as shown below right.

The conversion of 85% of these cells to cancer-resistant Type-4 cells at the end of a first full term pregnancy (FFTP) is the good news of pregnancy. The younger a woman is when she has a FFTP, the less cancer-prone cells she has developed over time. One Harvard study puts the risk of breast cancer at 3.5% elevation per year after the age of 24 until a woman has a FFTP. After a FFTP, the number of Type-4 cells produced from the remaining 15% of Type-1 and Type-2 cells increases.

Women add substantially to their risks when they delay FFTP, take oral contraceptives and/or have induced abortions, as these leave the breasts with an ever-increasing number of cancer-prone cells over a greater period of time in which cancer can develop.

Again, miscarriages are the exception to this rule, as it is precisely the lack of elevated estrogen and progesterone that led to the miscarriage.

Next time: Lies, damned lies, and more damned lies (from pro-choice hacks in lab coats).

Illustrations from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

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In the great struggle between the Culture of Death and the Culture of Life, a propaganda war against the Church and her view of women has been waged with great success in many quarters. Several lies have become the food of feminists, a grotesque bread of life for their disciples to feed upon. Chief among these lies are:

The Church teaches that women are servile.

The Church teaches that sex is only for making babies.

The Church teaches that women have no place in the work force.

The Church teaches that men are dominant in marriage.

We also know that war has been declared by these lost souls on motherhood, fatherhood, babies, family and sacramental union in marriage.

This is the first of several articles that will systematically deconstruct the tissue of lies fabricated by the feminist radicals. We begin with the writings of Pope John Paul II, who loved women and was loved by them in return. From:

APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

“Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning”, the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man – even with all his sharing in parenthood – always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood” from the mother. One can say that this is part of the normal human dimension of parenthood, including the stages that follow the birth of the baby, especially the initial period. The child’s upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents: the maternal and paternal contribution. In any event, the mother’s contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.

“In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root…

“Unless we refer to this order and primacy we cannot give a complete and adequate answer to the question about women’s dignity and vocation. When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons – men and women. In this broad and diversified context, a woman represents a particular value by the fact that she is a human person, and, at the same time, this particular person, by the fact of her femininity. This concerns each and every woman, independently of the cultural context in which she lives, and independently of her spiritual, psychological and physical characteristics, as for example, age, education, health, work, and whether she is married or single.

“Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect” women and for “weak” women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.”

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Pro-Life Academy every Tuesday and Thursday.

Today we begin a new track. Breast Cancer will be dealt with on Thursdays, while our ongoing embryology lessons will continue on Tuesdays.

There exists in the peer-reviewed scientific literature a significant body of literature dating to the 1950’s, which shows a clear and consistent link between abortion and breast cancer. I’ve written about some of this on this blog. Click here.

Today, we begin with a consideration of normal breast development in puberty and first pregnancy.

Breast maturation begins at the onset of puberty when girls begin to menstruate. An event called menarche. During menstrual cycles the hormones estrogen and progesterone which are produced stimulate the development of breast lobules.

In each breast, there are 15-25 lobes, each of which is like a main branch on a tree. Each lobe branches off into several lobules, as shown on left. Each lobule prior to pregnancy is comprised of Type-1 and Type-2 cells, which are cancer-susceptible cells.

Once a woman becomes pregnant, her body begins to produce vastly elevated concentrations of estrogen, as well as a steady supply of progesterone. These hormones stimulate prolific development of lobules and ductules in the first trimester leading into the second trimester. By the middle of the second trimester the woman’s breasts have doubled in size.

From the second half of the second trimester and going forward, human prolactin matures the lobule cells into Type-3 and Type-4 cells, which are cancer resistant cells, as shown in the illustration below.


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By the end of her FFTP, 85% of a woman’s lobules are cancer resistant. After weaning, many return to Type-3 cells with evidence that genetic changes have occurred leaving these cells cancer resistant. With every subsequent pregnancy, more of the remaining Type-1 and Type-2 lobules mature.

The difficulty presented by abortion is that a woman’s breasts undergo growth and proliferation early in the pregnancy, but are deprived of the maturational effects of the third trimester. This leaves the woman with many more cells which can become cancerous.

Women having miscarriages tend not to produce elevated estrogen levels, and do not therefore undergo the same pregnancy-related breast development.

Oral contraceptives mimic a pregnancy followed by abortion every month, setting up even higher risk for breast cancer.

Next time, more on how cells become cancerous and an introduction to the literature.

Illustrations from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

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