Friday, November 30, 2007

LifeBeat for December 1, 2007

Wesley Smith again discusses human cloning and the difficulties researchers have obtaining human eggs. He also talks about how obtaining human eggs can endanger the health of women. To listen, click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stem cell letter to the Michigan Daily

The following letter was submitted to the Michigan Daily in response to a recent editorial on stem cell research.
In a recent editorial, the Michigan Daily claims opponents of killing human embryos for research are "running out of reasons." Sadly, this editorial never explained what Michigan's "draconian laws" are nor did it explain how these laws were hurting Michigan. It claims Michigan is falling behind in stem cell research and then provides no evidence for this claim.

The editorial asserts "there is no chance" that human embryos "destroyed" for their stem cells "would otherwise be allowed to mature into actual human beings." Besides incorrectly assuming human embryos aren't "actual" human beings, this statement ignores the growing number of human embryos who have been adopted by couples struggling with infertility. One such former embryo named Frank Geisen recently appeared with his parents who testified against changing Michigan's laws.

The editorial also inaccurately claims embryonic stem cells "are the most readily available, flexible and understood choice." Embryonic stem cells are not more readily available or understood than adult stem cells which are in every single one of our bodies and are currently being used to treat patients. Recent research into creating pluripotent stem cells by reprogramming skin cells (which are quite easy to obtain) shows those reprogrammed cells are just as flexible as embryonic stem cells.

The editorial is correct about one thing: the tide on this issue is turning. It's turning sharply away from those who think killing human embryos is the answer. Recently, voters in New Jersey turned down an effort to spend $450 million on embryonic stem cell research. On November 20, two sets of researchers revealed they created pluripotent stem cells by reprogramming adult cells. Pluripotency is the asset in embryonic stem cells which some researchers crave. Now researchers have a simple, ethical way of obtaining patient-specific pluripotent stem cells from patients without killing human embryos.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Michigan abortionist Alberto Hodari says doctors have a "license to lie"

The Medical Students for Choice group at Wayne State University invited abortionist Alberto Hodari to speak to their group on November 9, 2007. Prolife students associated with Students for Life of America attended the event and videotaped Hodari's speech. They've posted the majority of the speech online and have also posted a short part of the speech on their website where Hodari says that doctors have a "license to lie" because patients "are more educated between CNN and the internet." He says doctors have a license to lie after explaining how he lies to prevent the boyfriends of women having abortions from being in the room during the abortion. Hodari explained that he says "the state says no" even though he knows there is no state regulation to prevent boyfriends from being in the room with their girlfriend during an abortion.

Students for Life of America also supplied Right to Life of Michigan with a transcript of Hodari's speech which they created.

Besides the numerous faulty statistical claims throughout the rambling, unstructured speech, Hodari noted that he performs abortions on women who are 20 weeks pregnant and their reason for abortion is because their boyfriend left them, he has performed 11 abortions on one woman who continually comes back to his clinic for abortions, says he doesn't wear a mask while performing abortions, washes his hands for less than a minute before performing an abortion and is proud he performs abortions.

Throughout the speech, Hodari continually discussed how rare abortion complications supposedly are. It should be noted that in 2004, a 15-year-old girl from Detroit named Tamiia Russell died after having an abortion at Hodari's Womancare abortion clinic in Southfield. Russell's death from abortion complications was never reported to the Michigan Department of Community Health and Hodari never mentioned Tamiia Russell during his speech.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stem Cell Advance Makes Michigan Cloning Legislation Irrelevant

In light of new developments in adult stem cell research announced from two continents, proposed Michigan legislation to advance embryonic stem cell research through cloning has become irrelevant.

Recently, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on bills that would overturn Michigan laws which prohibit the killing of human embryos for research. The central bill in the package, H.B. 4616, sponsored by Representative Andy Meisner, would also allow researchers to kill cloned human embryos for research.

Researchers from Japan and Wisconsin reported today that human skin cells have been reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells. This historic announcement ends the need to extract stem cells from human embryos or the need to clone human embryos for cells. The need for killing unique human embryos for research is over.

Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Ed Rivet said, "The days of killing embryos to harvest stem cells is over. It's time to put this unethical research and this irrelevant legislation on the scrap heap of history. We're ecstatic that the focus of research will now be on stem cell techniques that will bring breakthrough cures as quickly as possible."

LifeBeat for November 24, 2007

Wesley Smith talks about human cloning and attempts by researchers in Britain to create cloned human embryos using eggs from animals. Some researchers want to use animal eggs in attempts to created cloned human embryos because human eggs are difficult to obtain. To listen, click here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

LifeBeat for November 17, 2007

Deb Peters, director of embryo services at Bethany Christian Services, discusses embryo adoption. Human embryos who have been frozen at in-vitro fertilization clinics can be adopted by couples looking to adopt. To listen, click here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

LifeBeat for November 10, 2007

Kris Faasse, director of adoption services at Bethany Christian Services, talks about the process of adoption and what services her organization provides to women looking to place a child for adoption and couples looking to adopt. To listen, click here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jack Lessenberry giving false information on stem cells to his listeners

Jack Lessenberry, a newspaper columnist and journalist who has a radio program on Michigan Radio, recently used his radio program to attack Right to Life of Michigan and Michigan's laws which prevent human cloning and the killing of human embryos for research.

In his essay, which he read on the radio, Lessenberry makes a number of false claims, including numerous false claims about Michigan's laws. He writes, "we can't do (embryonic stem cell research) at all in Michigan," "we have outlawed it totally," and wonders what could happen if "the University of Michigan's medical school were free to work on stem cell research."

Below is the text of a message I left on Lessenberry's blog pointing him to numerous web pages which clearly show that embryonic stem cell research is not illegal in Michigan and has been going on for a number of years.
The University of Michigan is "free to work on stem cell research."

Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on human embryonic stem cells right now and have been doing so for a number of years. They even received a 3-year federal grant for more than $2 million dollars (around $750,000 a year for 3 years) for this research in 2003.

The University of Michigan has a policy statement on which human embryonic stem cells they use.

The University also has a question and answer on embryonic stem cell research which notes:

"What kinds of human embryonic stem cells can be used in U-M research?

U-M research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health or other federal funding agencies are restricted to existing stem cell lines, created before August 9, 2001, and listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry. Privately funded U-M research studies can be conducted with new cell lines not listed in the NIH registry, as long as they meet the conditions outlined in the university's official policy statement..."

The University of Michigan even has a Michigan Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

So it seems that the University of Michigan is "free to work on stem cell research" and has been doing so for quite some time. What they're preventing from doing is killing human embryos for research or attempting to create cloned human embryos through somatic cell nuclear transfer. Why does Jack Lessenberry act like Michigan law prevents researchers from using embryonic stem cells when it is clear as can be that they do use embryonic stem cells?

Unfortunately, numerous journalists in Michigan have failed to properly research what is legal and illegal in Michigan and have too often been misled by proponents of cloning and killing human embryos.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Letter to the Grand Rapids Press

On November 3, 2007, the Grand Rapids Press printed the following letter in response to a Press story on stem cell research and a possible ballot proposal to overturn some of Michigan's prolife laws.
The Oct. 28 Press featured an article on embryonic stem cell research, Michigan's prolife laws and economic growth ("Money vs. morality"). While I believe it was fair in letting both sides air their views, a few items should be addressed.

Cloning is not "the transplant of DNA from an individual into an embryo." Human cloning is an attempt to create a cloned human embryo using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer where the nucleus of an individual's cell is removed and placed into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. This is the same technique used to create Dolly the sheep. Some researchers hope to create cloned human embryos and then kill them for their stem cells. They euphemistically call this "therapeutic cloning."

Sean Morrison, director of the U-M Center for Stem Cell Biology and one of the founders of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, seems to insinuate that Michigan's law preventing human cloning and the killing of human embryos for research played a role in OncoMed's moving to California. OncoMed's Web site doesn't indicate their research involves killing human embryos or human cloning but rather trying to find ways to kill certain stem cells in adults which lead to cancer. This type of research isn't illegal in Michigan. It seems the more likely reason why OncoMed's investors wanted to move to California was because all of their investors are either based in California or have offices there.

LifeFacts - Paraplegic's Own Stem Cells Bring Recovery

Kevin Krohn from Manitou Beach, Michigan was left a paraplegic after a car accident in 2001 crushed his spinal cord. In 2005, Kevin traveled to Portugal to undergo a procedure grafting stem cells from his nasal membrane to his spinal cord to rebuild nerve connections. He felt better immediately after the surgery, “I could feel my bladder fill.” He is continually improving through intensive physical therapy back in Michigan. Adult stem cell pioneer Dr. Carlos Lima said that the extent of Kevin's improvement was “quite unexpected” since he was one of the most severely injured patients he has treated.

Meanwhile, Krohn took his auto insurance company to court after they refused to reimburse the $51,000 in costs and claimed the procedure was experimental and not “reasonably necessary” according to Michigan's no-fault laws. A Lenawee County Circuit Court jury decided in Krohn's favor on November 2, 2007.

For more information, click here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

LifeBeat for November 3, 2007

Kris Faasse, director of adoption services at Bethany Christian Services, discusses the various kinds of adoption and some incorrect perceptions people can have about adoption. To listen, click here.