Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Shazaam! An Even-Handed Article on the Cloning Debate in WIRED

This Wired article is an interesting overview of the cloning controversy and Dr. Bill Hurlbut's attempt to find a morally acceptable way to derive pluripotent cells that would have all of the attributes of embryonic stem cells but without the moral cost of creating human life in order to destroy it. His idea, known as Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT), would use groundbreaking biotechnology to create an artifact that would, in effect, create a stem cell line directly without first having been an organism. In other word, if it works, ANT would not create an embryo, and thus there would be no moral problems with using the stem cells that would be derived.

This is an interesting proposal that should be pursued in animal models to see if it is actually doable. But the most revealing part of the Wired article for me was the predictable lack of enthusiasm of the mainstream biotechnologists for the ANT proposal. This isn't surprising. They are not interested in consensus or compromise. Biotech scientists want to do what they want to do, e.g., human cloning, and they want tax payers to foot the bill in the billions of dollars. Thus, even as Hurlbut strives to bridge the growing gap between science and morality, the scientists really don't care. Believing that only scientists can decide what is moral in science, they insist that the rest of us mind our own business and let them get on with it. In other words, to heck with checks and balances, a decidedly un-American way to go.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Leslie Burke Case Is Beginning to Get the Attention It Deserves in USA

The LA Times has discovered the Leslie Burke case. If he loses the appeal, which I fear he will, the case will end up in the UK Highest Court (The Lords), and then, if necessary at the EU Court. At stake, quite literally, is whether the profoundly ill and disabled have a right to live in the UK, and perhaps all of Europe. Since the US Supreme Court now looks overseas in searching for precedents for its constitutional rulings, the Burke case could materially impact our rights in the health care context as well.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Step by Step, Inch by Inch, the Animal Rights Brownshirts Advance

Now British Airways, its executives targeted for vandalism and threats by animal liberation extremists, is refusing to carry animals destined for use in medical labs. And nary an animal rights advocate will condemn these tactics. Such silence is coming quickly now to mean assent. Unless activists take back the movement from the crazies, the animal rights movement will lose all rights to call itself peaceful.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Some Important Commentary Dealing With the Real Animal Liberation Movement

Beneath the guerilla theater and models posing naked to protest fur, there is a radical edge to the animal rights/liberation movement that is growing increasingly lawless. This column discusses. Quite tellingly, PETA has repeatedly refused to condemn such violent and lawless tactics.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Columnist "Gets It" About The Radical New Jersey Cloning License

This columnist did his homework. The result: Clarity and Truth.

Andrew Sullivan Supports Bush Veto Of ESCR Federal Funding

Blogger Supremo, Andrew Sullivan, supports the Bush position on funding embryonic stem cell research using leftover IVF embryos. He notes that the Bush policy is truly neutral, that is, it does not legally prohibit ESCR, but also does not federally fund embryo destruction.

This is true. But Bush is also upholding a pre-existing federal law known as the Dickey Amendment. Indeed, Dickey was the reason President Bill Clinton didn't federally fund ESCR during the about 2 years he had from their first derivation in humans and the end of his administration. Yes, I know that at the very end of his time in office, Clinton issued an order permitting federal funding after private money destroyed the embryos and derived the stem cell lines. But that was more about tossing Bush a hot political potato than actual policy, otherwise Clinton would have acted sooner. Moreover, the Clinton approach would probably have not passed legal muster since the private destruction would have been undertaken with the expectation that the researchers would then receive federal funds.

It is worth reiterating that this issue has nothing to do with the cloning issue raised by the South Koreans. Human Cloning and ESCR are distinct, although biotech propagandists work overtime to merge the two into the general term "stem cell research."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Re Euthanasia: Check This Out

The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide has just published a new report entitled, "Assisted Suicide & Death With Dignity: Past, Present & Future." Once again, the Task Force demonstrates why it is the premier educational organization that documents the dangers of the international euthanasia movement.

My Interview With National Review Online

With the cloning and embryonic stem cell issues becoming hot again, NRO contacted me for a Q and A interview about my views and Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World. Here it is in full.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Well Funded by Private Funds

This article nails it well. Private money is amply funding embryonic stem cell research on leftover embryos. Add to these projects, $25 million in federal funding in 2003 on existing lines, plus money that will be flowing in from the states.

Frankly, the money would be better spent, in my view, on adult stem cell research or on current medical needs that are not being met. But the idea that ESCR is withering on the vine is poppycock.

Another Human Trial With Adult Stem Cells

This time it is liver disease. When will the media and disease groups comprehend that the best hope for the quickest regenerative treatments involve a patient's own stem cells?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Leslie Burke Could Happen Here

Here is my extended article on the Leslie Burke case in the UK. Lest Americans think that we are not affected by unilateral treatment cut offs, throughout the country hospitals are quietly promulgating futile care theory protocols that give ethics committees the final say on whether wanted life-sustaining treatment will be provided. And now, they are beginning to impose them on unwilling patients. Unless this trend is thwarted, patient autonomy will only mean the "right to die." But there will be no corresponding right to live.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cloning Untruths

The propaganda of Big Biotech and the Science Establishment about cloning is unremitting. They used to acknowledge the basic biological truth that cloning creates embryos. But now, to win a political debate, they claim cloning doesn't create embryos or any form of life at all.

The latest to change his tune is Woo Suk Hwang. When he manufactured the first human cloned embryos, he admitted that the "products" of cloning were embryos and indeed, that "this technique [therapeutic cloning] can not be separated from reproductive people cloning..."

That was then. Now, having manufactured more human cloned embryos, he apparently has received his talking points: "I can say this result is not an embryo but a 'nuclear transfer construct'."

Meanwhile other scientists say that a "construct" could never become a human being, by which they mean a born baby. David Magnus and Mildred Cho of the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics in California stated, "There is no reason ever to believe one of these things could ever become a human being." Right, and Dolly was not really a sheep.

This is science? No, it's politics. And it is utterly disrespectful of the democratic process because it refuses to be candid and truthful about what may be the most consequential technology ever created.

Animal Rights Intimidation Continues With Scarce Condemnation From "Mainstream" Liberationists

Here is another example of the growing radicalism that is sweeping the animal rights/liberation movement. Theft, threats of violence, intimidation--all to thwart medical progress in the name of saving the animals. What I find telling is this: Whenever I post an article such as this, the e-mail comes pouring in about how I am demonizing a peaceful movement. But when I ask my correspondents to condemn these tactics, they almost never will.

The only people who can reach the violent radicals are co-believers. But they are sitting on their hands. It seems to me that makes them complicit in the escalating criminality and terrorist threats.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Leslie Burke Has No Right to Live: It's All About the Money

The cat has leaped out of the bag in the Leslie Burke case. The government has argued that it would be too expensive to permit some patients who want to live to remain alive if doctors don't agree. This is blatant health care rationing.

Health care rationing is medical discrimination by a polite name. And it pits some patients against others. The UK government seems to be intentionally pitting healthier and able bodied patients against the ill and disabled by their public arguments. The idea is that if people like Burke can demand food and water or other forms of life sustenance, other types of health care will have to be limited. Shame on them.

A more reasonable approach would be to separate tube-supplied food and water from other forms of care. That would take care of Leslie Burke. Then, the other issues of health care resources could be argued. For example, is it just that some people be denied wanted life-sustaining medical treatment so that NHS can offer other patients free care?

Leslie Burke's Web Site

For those interested in the Leslie Burke case in the UK, here is his WEB site.

Burke is the man who sued for the legal right to receive a feeding tube if he loses the ability to swallow. He won at the trial court level, but amazingly, the medical authorities and the government of the UK have appealed. The case is being argued this week. Barring the unforeseen, I will have an extended article on the case and its relevance to America published next week.

By the by, the Burke case isn't really about socialized medicine, but Futile Care Theory, which would permit doctors/bioethicists to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment if they don't believe the patient's "quality of life" is worth living or spending the resources upon. Here is an old article of mine on that issue. Futile Care Theory is beginning to be imposed in this country as well as in the UK.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Indiana has Outlawed All Human Cloning

I guess the media didn't like this story, since it went almost completely unreported, but on May 4, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation that completely outlaws all human cloning in the Hoosier State. That makes seven states, with hopefully more to come.

Monday, May 16, 2005

More Evidence that Animal Liberationists are Anti-Human

I am convinced that the dark core of the animal liberation movement is anti-human. Not every believer suffers from this misanthropy, of course. Most just want to reduce animal suffering.

But the hard core or "base" of the movement are decidedly anti-human.

ITEM: After writing about PETA's non apology "apology" a bit ago, I heard via e-mail from many animal liberationists that eating meat "is too" morally equivalent to the Holocaust. I suggested to some that I am not the person to be angry with, but that they contact PETA and urge it to be honest and retract its non apology "apology" for making the comparison between the ovens at Auschwitz and the local butcher shop.

Now here's another story out of the UK, where animal liberation is most virulent and radical. It seems that a fellow with Parkinson's disease has his symptoms under significant control thanks to a surgical procedure involving implanting electrodes in the brain. Learning to do this surgery right, of course, required extensive animal testing. When the fellow tried to speak about his surgery he was shouted down by animal liberationists and told to go and die.

This deep misanthropy and utter moral confusion explains why some animal liberationists are growing increasingly violent and dangerous. And yet, when I write about animal rights terrorism, I hear from believers who are angry at my supposedly lumping their "peaceful" movement in with those who engage in violence. But when I urge them to condemn the vandalism and terrorist threats engaged in by their more radical colleagues, they usually won't do it. Indeed, PETA explicitly refuses to condemn the Animal Liberation Front.

This is an issue that is only going to get bigger as time passes. Someday, animal liberationists will kill a human being over animals. When that Rubicon is passed, Katy bar the door!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Leslie Burke Case

I just returned from the UK where I appeared on numerous BBC broadcasts and lectured throughout the country. As it turns out, one of the most important bioethics cases is about to be argued in the Court of Appeal there. Leslie Burke has a degenerating neurological disease that may eventually prevent him from swallowing. He is fully competent. He wants a feeding tube if and when. He sued for the right and won. But the General Medical Council--which sets standards of medical treatment in the UK--supported by the UK government, appealed, claiming that the decision of whether Burke lives or dies by dehydration belongs with doctors!

I had the honor of spending an hour with Leslie in his home. He is a terrific fellow, in good spirits, and determined that his human right to food and water be respected.

This case could not be more important. I plan to write and speak about it until he wins a final victory. More coming soon.

For those who are interested, here is Leslie's WEB site.

New Evidence of Broad and Deep Opposition to Assisted Suicide

The media often depict assisted suicide opponents as monolithic religious right /orthodox Catholic activists. But this is a two-dimensional caricature that badly skews the truth. In actuality, a broad and diverse coalition has formed to prevent the transforming of killing into a legitimate "medical treatment." The latest evidence: This press release by LULAC, the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, which assails assisted suicide as "incompatible with basic human rights and Latino values."

Friday, May 06, 2005

Short Hiatus

I am traveling to the UK to speak and debate on euthansia and assisted suicide. I'll be gone a week. Secondhand Smoke will return upon my return. Thanks to those who visit here regularly for your interest in my views.

More on the PETA Non Apology "Apology"

I wrote a piece about it at NRO. Here is the actual statement from Ingrid Newkirk. Know this: PETA literally believes that eating meat is equivalent to participating in death camps, and that cattle farming is the same morally as the old slave plantations. PETA is not about animal welfare, which seeks to improve the proper and humane use of animals by people. That can be a noble and often, thankless, cause. In contrast, PETA's goal is ending all human use of animals, no matter the harm it causes to human welfare.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

PETA's Non-Apology Apology for Odious Holocaust on Your Plate Campaign

The anti-human organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), recently commenced a truly odious vegetarian proselytizing campaign called "Holocaust on Your Plate," in which PETA made an explicit and invidious comparison between Jews killed in the Holocaust and animals killed for food. As I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, the advocacy even went so far as to state that "Like the Jews murdered in concentration camps, animals are terrorized when they are housed in huge filthy warehouses and rounded up for shipment to slaughter. The leather sofa and handbag are the moral equivalent of the lampshades made from the skins of people killed in the death camps"

Now, the head of PETA, recognizing the PR losses PETA inflicted on itself with Holocaust on Your Plate, has "apologized." But she only apologizes for the "pain" the campaign caused, not for the odious link PETA made between animal husbandry and genocide. Indeed, much of the statement is devoted to justifying PETA's claim.

Here is the truth about PETA as I see it. The group still believes the comparison is apt. But being one of the most brilliant propagandists around, they finally recognized that the comparison was doing more harm than good to the cause of animal liberation. Hence, Newkirk's issuance of a non apology, apology.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Man Awakens and Speaks After 10 Years

Gee, some people are connecting this story of the unexpected improvement of a profoundly cogntively impaired man with the Terri Schiavo case. Wonder why? Perhaps it is because if this fellow had been treated the way Michael Schiavo treated Terri, he wouldn't have been alive to enjoy his unexpected improvement.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

NAS's Ethical Guidelines Miss the Mark

As I wrote earlier, the NAS has developed Guidelines to govern embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic human cloning. In actuality, these voluntary and unenforceable guidelines would limit little that can be done today. In essence, they are a PR cover for anything goes. This is my extended take on the subterfuge.

Monday, May 02, 2005

And Yet Another Adult Stem Cell Success

This time, adult stem cells taken from dead donors restored sight in the living. It turned out that the actual healing was accomplished by the patients' own cells, not those that were implanted. Note the potential implications: Nadey Hakim, a consultant surgeon at St Mary's Hospital, London, said that it was likely that such action could be mimicked in other organs, thus reducing the need for organ transplants. "The hope is that stem cells will one day be used to generate large quantities of cells and tissues and possibly entire organs damaged by disease and injury. It is a dream."

Shhh. Don't tell the New York Times.

Australian "Kevorkian" May Leave Country to Assist Suicides

Philip Nitschke is a hero of the international euthanasia movement. His specialty is creating suicide machines and he attempting to concoct the "peaceful pill," a suicide concoction made of common household ingredients. He is not only invited to speak at many assisted suicide conventions, but also the Hemlock Society substantially underwrote his work on the suicide pill for years until its connection to Nitschke was publicized and the organization subsequently went "corporate," trying to hide its leopard spots by changing the name to Compassion and Choices. Nitschke is so radical, he has actually suggested that the peaceful pill be available in supermarkets and to troubled teens.

But Australia is finally passing laws that will shut him down. So, now he is threatening to take his work to New Zealand. One would hope that the Kiwis would offer him just as cold a shoulder.