Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Canadian Health System Meltdown

I recall being in Canada a few years ago and the newspaper front page headline warned that 900,000 Ontarians had no primary care physician, despite having the right to one under the Canadian system. In other words, it was almost as if they were uninsured, meaning they had to get urgent care from hospital ERs.

Now, we find in this New York Times article that the meltdown continues and increasing numbers look to private care for the medical needs--even though such care has been illegal.

I recall mentioning in a speech I gave in Canada the day that story came out, that Americans want the Canadian system and many Canadians were beginning to want the American approach. This seems to be continuing.

This isn't my area of expertise. But perhaps the best approach would be a national blend of private/public health care financing: Have the government pick up catastrophic costs beyond a certain point, which would reduce insurance premiums. Permit national private insurance coverage rather than state by state, to expand the coverage pool. Have a Medicare type coverage for all legal residents and citizens, but keep the package limited to necessary care that would offer partial coverage. Allow private insurance or private pay to fill the gap. Stop cherry picking by requiring insurance companies to subsidize coverage for people with significant pre-existing conditions. Permit high deductibles supplemented by medical savings accounts to avoid over utilization. Permit certified physician's assistants to do the routine work.

This much seems sure to me: Our current system is breaking. National health coverage, Canada or UK style doesn't work. We need to be imaginative if we are to avoid health care rationing, which is discrimination by a polite name.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Michael Fumento on the Politicization of Science Journals

I had the opportunity to meet Michael Fumento on a recent trip to Washington DC. I found him as knowledgeable in person as on paper. Here is an example, in which Fumento describes how science journals are being politicized.

This seems a real problem to me. At least on the issues in which I am involved, "science" is becoming merely another special interest that uses the same spin and jive techniques as other political movements. If this continues, it will corrode science at its core.

Fumento is right to be concerned. I will be writing increasingly on this issues in the coming months.

Stem Cells Aren't the Only Game in Biotechnology Town

Piglet islet cells transplanted into pancreases have effectively treated diabetes in monkeys. The technique is now ready for early trials in humans. Add this study to the successful cure of juvenile diabetes in mice using spleen cells, and we may see that there are many hopeful approaches to regenerative medicine beyond embryonic stem cells or cloning.

Once again, the importance of animals in medical research is also illustrated by this story. Not only because piglet tissues are used, but also the testing in mice and monkeys. This could not happen with mere cell lines or computer programs.

Scientists Create Prostate Gland With ES Cells

This is pretty remarkable: Apparently researchers were able to morph human ES cells into prostate gland cells, implant them in mice, and they grew into a complete gland. The researchers claim that this technique will help them gain better understanding of prostate diseases such as cancer.

I don't know if the mice were kept alive long enough to see if the cells would create a teratoma or whether they needed drugs to prevent rejection.

I have also learned that the work was accomplished with cell lines that would qualify for federal funding under the Bush guidelines.

This experiment demonstrates why some scientists, like Bill Hurlbut, want to create moral alternatives to ESCR, which is why his ANT proposal(one among many) has gotten so much attention.

The story also demonstrates again the importance of using animals in medical research.

One final point: Such experiments point out the benefit of using animals to grow human tissues. However, this would not be an animal/human hybrid as the cells did not alter the genomic makeup of the mouse.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Savage Reservations" the Only Refuge from Transhumanism?

This column in the Guardian (by college lecturer Dylan Evans) about the supposed inevitability of transhumanism is, I think, overly pessimistic. Evans worries that the social pressures set in motion by transhumanist technologies will one day force most people to enhance their children genetically and to modify their bodies with biotech, nanotech, and every other kind of tech. In an interesting touch, Evans suggests that the only way to preserve lives of free will, will be for those who want to live and die naturally to create "savage reservations" as described by Huxley in Brave New World.

I don't believe most of the "miracle" technologies will really bring the near immortality or ability to enhance progeny that transhumanists yearn for--at least not within our lifetimes. For my money, it is the value system of transhumanism that is the real problem, as I have written.

Check out Evans' piece. It is worth pondering.

Euphemisms R Us

The venerable political columnist John Leo has weighed in on a favorite pet peeve of mine; the ubiquitous use of euphemisms rather than accurate descriptive language to describe facts or actions that are controversial or disturbing.

He speaks of euphemisms used in areas as far ranging as plane crashes, the death penalty, and torture. The following is Leo's take on a few of the issues of concern to Secondhand Smoke:

"Just as 'abortion' has virtually disappeared from the names and language of abortion-rights groups, the word 'embryo' is fading from the vocabulary of those who favor 'embryonic stem-cell research.' Since polls show that the public reacts negatively to the news that minute human embryos are created and destroyed in the research, the media now speak of 'early stem cells.' The troubling word 'cloning' is fading too; 'therapeutic cloning' is replaced by its technical term, 'somatic cell nuclear transfer.'"

Leo could have added that euthanasia advocates now routinely use gooey euphemisms for acts of mercy killing, which almost 100 years ago was given the (then) euphemistic word euthanasia--which before it was co-opted by supporters of mercy killing originally meant a good and peaceful natural death surrounded by family. So, now euthanasia societies no longer use the word euthanasia. It is all "compassion and choices" or "choice in dying." The acts of killing are now called "aid in dying," or "death with dignity." It all gets increasingly ridiculous.

As I have oft said, beware of social movements that use euphemisms to progress their agendas. It means that they are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

If Doctors Should Not Execute, They Should Not Euthanize

There is a big furor in California over whether doctors should participate in executions. Many in bioethics and the media claim that it is unethical for doctors to cooperate in executions, since killing is not a medical act.

I have great sympathy for that view. But if that is true, it should go without saying that doctors should not participate in the intentional killing of patients because they are seriously ill or disabled (or as in the Netherlands, deeply depressed).

Oh, the issue is consent? What if a condemned prisoner wants to be executed rather than spend a lifetime in jail? I have heard anti-death penalty types actually argue that then, physician-hastened death would be fine.

Wrong. Killing is not a medical act. Doctors have no greater moral authority than anyone else, and no greater right to kill. If doctors should not execute, even though it is a consequence of a murderer's actions after receiving abundant due process of law, they should not euthanize.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Phillip ("Dr. Death") Nitschke Now in Trouble in New Zealand

In the summer of 2001, I toured Australia criticizing the "Down Under" Dr. Death (Phillip Nitschke) for his advocacy of assisted suicide, even for troubled teens. It was one of my most successful advocacy ventures. For two weeks I was at the epicenter of a media firestorm, resulting ultimately in the government taking notice and getting involved. Soon after my visit, it banned the importation of suicide devises, which stopped Nitschke from bringing the "Exit Bag" into Australia for use in suicide.

That started a ball rolling. One thing led to another (without my involvement), and eventually Nitschke was put out of business in Australia. So, he moved to New Zealand where he hoped to find a more "anything goes" environment in which to conduct his how-to-commit-suicide clinics and euthanasia advocacy.

Apparently he misjudged New Zealand. He may be in trouble for practicing medicine without a license.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Nothing Justifies This Kind of Animal Rights Extremism

This is a story too infrequently told: Of people cruelly victimized by the terrorists of Stop Hungingdon Animal Cruelty and other such radical extreme animal rights/liberationist terrorists. And if you don't think that terrorists is precisely the right word, read the following quote (and then the whole story linked above):

"One woman said she received an e-mail threatening to cut her 7-year-old son open and stuff him with poison. A man said he was showered with glass as people smashed all the windows of his home and overturned his wife's car.

Many others said they were besieged by screaming protesters outside their homes at all hours, deluged by threatening phone calls, and sent pornographic magazines they had not ordered.

The trauma that employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences and other companies say they experienced at the hands of radical animal rights advocates is on display during the federal court trial of a Philadelphia-based group and six of its members on domestic terrorism charges."

These criminals will not listen to law enforcement, government, or me. But they might listen to the condemnation of their fellow believers who do not engage in violence. Unfortunately, PETA refuses to condemn SHAC and the ALF. Nor do most other animal rightists, whether leaders or grass roots. Which raises an important question: Is there such a thing as a "moderate" animal rights/liberationist?

Stem Cell Experiment on Alzheimer's Proves Need to Use Animals in Research

A side note on the post below: The only reason we know that bone marrow stem cells might one day be able to be used as a treatment for Alzheimer's is due to animal experimentation. In this particular case, mice were genetically altered, they were caused to have Alzheimer's disease, they were then treated with the stem cells, and finally, they were euthanized and dissected to see how and whether the experiment worked. Without using living organisms, this research simply could not have progressed. In other words, cell lines and computer models would have been inadequate. Indeed, if this research continues to progress, it may have to be used in monkeys or primates that have a closer genome to humans before use in human subjects. (Either that, or use disabled humans as some animal rights fanatics like Peter Singer have espoused.)

This is the real world: Animal experimentation is essential to scientific progress. It is as simple as that.

Adult Stem Cells May Be Able to Treat Alzheimer's

We must be wary of making too much of this story since it is early research, but it could be very good news. Bone marrow stem cells may be able to treat Alzheimer's, according to mouse studies. If so, all we can say is, wow!

I have been very critical of cloning and ESCR boosters for almost always listing Alzheimer's as a disease that they claim could be cured by stem cell therapies. The media list the disease as part of the pro-therapeutic cloning mantra. But the truth has been that Alzheimer's is an unlikely disease to benefit from either embryonic, cloned, or adult stem cell therapies because it is not an affliction in which one discreet area degenerates. Rather, Alzheimer's is a whole brain disease. Thus, stem cells were not deemed likely to be of much curative benefit.

But this experiment is different. Rather than seeking to regenerate damaged tissues, apparently the bone marrow stem cells were used to help the brain's own immune system defeat the plaques that cause Alzheimer's. That's a completely different approach. Let us not hype this. There is still a long way to go before we can get truly excited. Still, if this pans out, it would alleviate immeasurable amounts of human suffering. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

London Times Exposes American Behind Oxford Threats of Violence

The London Times has apparently exposed one of the promoters of animal rights violence against a planned Oxford University laboratory that will engage in animal testing. The Oxford struggle is as important as the war against Huntingdon Life Sciences. If the Brownshirts win, no animal using industry or university will be safe.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The UK Sinks Deeper Into Health Care Rationing

The British National Health Service is rationing health care. Of this, there can no longer be substantial doubt. And it has been supported by the British Lords, the equivalent to our Supreme Court.

The case in question involves a woman who has a type of breast cancer that is susceptible to treatment by a drug called Herceptin. The drug is expensive and the patient, Ann Marie Rogers, was denied access to it by the NHS—not because of efficacy concerns, but apparently based on cost. (Only late stage breast cancer patients can have the drug paid for by the NHS even though it also shows great promise in early disease.)

Now consider the situation if the UK legalizes assisted suicide, as it may do. Women like Ms. Rogers could be denied potentially life saving—or extending—treatments. But if they became terminal as a result and turned in despair to assisted suicide should it become legal, the NHS would by more than happy to pay for the lethal drugs. After all, they would cost less than 100 Pounds, meaning there is no chance that assisted suicide would ever be rationed. (This is precisely what can happen in Oregon which rations some Medicaid treatments, but never assisted suicide.)

So, we continue to see the cost of utilitarian medicine. People denied necessary care to help them live, but potentially offered easy access to poison dispensed by doctors to make them die. Some compassion.

Monday, February 13, 2006

No Honor Among Human Cloners?

William Schatten and the disgraced Woo-suk Hwang from South Korea used to be bosom buddies. But then, Schatten jumped ship, Hwang sank deeper than the Titanic, and their entire partnership fell apart.

Schatten apparently has attempted to patent cloning technologies that Hwang claims he (Schatten) did not develop. (Schatten put his name on Hwang's papers in Science even though he did not actually conduct the "research.") Now, Hwang, who has been justifiably fired by his university, is asking for the rights to "his" technology back and plans to sue Schatten.

This isn't the only story of cloners falling out and ethical problems associated with the research. Perhaps when an endeavor is attempted that is inherently wrong, it is demonstrated in ways beyond the actual research.

Robert Novak Column on Talent Bonehead Cloning Move

Columnist Robert Novak is not only a smart pundit, but an excellent journalist. This article on Senator Jim Talent's speech removing himself from sponsoring the Brownback/Landrieu Bill that would outlaw all human cloning, mirrors my sentiments. But Novak's opinions are far more informed.

He also reports that the Stowers Institute is threatening to pull up stakes and leave Missouri for Los Angeles if MO does not guarantee the right to engage in human cloning. As I have been saying: The Biomedical Establishment seems less about serving society these days, and more about dominating it.

I mean, can anyone imagine the media outcry if some "conservative" financial powerhouse threatened to leave a state if that state did not tailor its laws on demand? The howls would be deafening. But if its cloning, the media are good little puppies, licking the hand of their masters.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Senator Talent's Bonehead Move

Missouri Senator Jim Talent has removed his name off of the Brownback/Landrieu Bill that would outlaw all human cloning. Does that mean he supports cloning for biomedical research? No. He still opposes all human cloning. He wants to promote Altered Nuclear Transfer, he says. Which is fine. ANT is worth researching in animals and pondering as an alternative means for deriving pluripotent stem cells. But there was no need to remove his name from Brownback to do that.

What is really going on, in my view, is politics. He is under pressure from the Stowers Institute (a VERY rich medical research center that is seeking to dominate Missouri politics on the issues of biotechnology). The Missouri media is totally in the tank for an initiative being promoted by Stowers-connected money that would legalize human cloning. His likely Democrat opponent is pushing her support for the initiative. Talent has yet to take a stand on the issue, which may make some sense since it isn't yet on the ballot.

Still, the move was a huge political mistake. It risks alienating his base, the politically potent Missouri pro life movement, which has worked hard in MO to ban all human cloning. And, it won't make him any friends among the Stowers crowd or the biased media. All it did was confuse where he stands on human cloning.

I suggest to Senator Talent that he quickly clarify his continuing unequivocal opposition to all human cloning. Otherwise, he risks losing votes among cloning opponents without any gain from the other side.

Also, read this take on it by NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru, who interviewed Talent. I think Ramesh has it right.

Friday, February 10, 2006

JDRF: Contemptuous of Democracy

There has been a several year campaign by "Big Biotech," cloning propagandists, and some disease advocacy groups, particularly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), to redefine cloning and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Instead of using the accurate scientific definition of SCNT, these propagandists masking as scientists are promoting a political definition that is pure junk biology. Here is a classic example from a story reporting on Mississippi's pending ban on all human cloning:

"Information distributed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International says there is 'widespread confusion' about somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT, also called 'therapeutic cloning.' The foundation says the procedure involves removing the nucleus of an unfertilized egg and replacing it with the nucleus of an adult cell.

The foundation said the procedure is 'a fundamentally different procedure from reproductive cloning, as was used by scientists in 1996 to create Dolly the sheep.'"

What pure, unadulterated garbage. There is no difference in the cloning technique used in "therapeutic cloning" and "reproductive cloning." It is SCNT, the exact procedure used to make Dolly. There are not different kinds of cloning. Cloning is cloning is cloning. There are different uses of the cloned embryo created. But the cloning procedure itself is exactly the same.

On one hand, I don't blame the AP reporter for this. She is just reporting the bilge put out by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. On the other hand I do: The time is long since past for the media to show some skepticism toward the claims by the pro cloning political machine and do a little independent research and ask some basic questions. One good question for the JDRF would be: How does the SCNT procedure in therapeutic cloning differ from the SCNT procedure in reproductive cloning. The answer, of course, would be that there are no differences. Then, once the lie was exposed, perhaps the media could look more deeply into some of the other inaccurate advocacy claims put out by these corroders of objective science.

The JDRF is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of legislators and the people in order to prevent an honest debate based on accurate scientific definitions. They are contemptuous of democracy.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Michael Fumento is Hot on the Trail of Encouraging Biotech News

It appears that progress is being made toward the treatment of spinal cord injury, with no moral qualms about the experiments.

Mississippi House Bans All Human Cloning

Mississippi appears on the brink of outlawing all human cloning. The vote was overwhelming, with only 4 opposed. Interestingly, the only quotes in this story on the vote are from opponents of the bill, so the reader has no idea why so many legislators supported the legislation. Typical.

Belgium Euthanasia Deaths Have Doubled

Euthanasia deaths in Belgium are rising dramatically, now "officially" at 400, up from 200 at the beginning of the killing program just a few years ago. But there also appears to be rampant underreporting, as in the Netherlands. The estimate in this story is that some 2000 patients are killed each year in Belgium by doctors.

Not surprisingly, most of the euthanasia killings are reported to be in Flemish areas, which are closer culturally to the Netherlands where, as one medical journal put it, euthanasia is beyond effective control. The same thing would happen here once we got past the squeamishness of actually killing patients.

The events of the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and to a lesser extent, Oregon, demonstrate the wisdom of Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne's point of a few years ago: "A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured."

Christian Science Monitor Shows Journalistic Integrity

Awhile ago, I was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor about assisted suicide. The story, as originally written, then went on to claim that 84% supported the "right to die" in a Pew Poll. The 84% figure actually referred to the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, which the Pew Poll inaccurately called the right to die. Another, distinct question found that 46% supported legalizing assisted suicide, with 45% opposed.

I complained to the CSM about this (and blogged about it). The CSM editor investigated my complaint and issued a correction, which now runs with the story. Good for them. That's journalistic integrity.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hwang Influence Politicians With Slush Fund Donations

Woo-suk Hwang apparently used some public money given to his lab for research, to influence politicians. Thank goodness nothing like that would ever happen here. In the USA, science is merely an objective search for knowledge. It's not as if the Science Establishment has mutated the pursuit of scientific knowledge into a special interest that assumes the right to receive ever-increasing levels of public funding and works assiduously to lobby and influence our public officials or anything.

Benefit of Doubt Given to Death in Brain Injury Cases

It seems to me that when someone suffers a serious illness or injury, the benefit of doubt should be given to life. This isn't to say that life support should never terminated (although I certainly think it is immoral to remove a feeding tube based on "quality of life" considerations by those other than the patient). As a hospice volunteer, I believe a time comes to stop trying to maintain life and allow nature to take its course. We have taken this approach in my own family. My father died of colon cancer in hospice care.

But the State of Massachusetts seem to have taken the exact opposite approach with poor Haleigh Poutre. After she was seriously beaten, the public guardian decided within 8 days(!) to cut off her respirator and feeding tube. That is not nearly enough time for the brain to begin to recover, particularly that of a child. This case illustrates a worrying trend in health care: When the injury is to the brain, increasingly the benefit of the doubt goes to death, not life.

More Junk Journalism about Cloning

I could spend all of my time here at Secondhand Smoke illustrating how media refuses to report stories about biotechnology accurately. But that would get old and there are many other things to write about. But this story is just too much: The AP has produced a story, byline Sam Hananel, that makes the following false claim in a story about how a proposed Missouri initiative to legalize ESCR (actually therapeutic cloning) has divided Republicans:

"Sen. Jim Talent, who faces a strong challenge in November from Democratic state auditor Claire McCaskill, has declined to take a stand on the measure. But he has co-sponsored a Senate bill to ban embryonic stem cell research and impose a million-dollar fine and 10-year jail sentence on violators." (My emphasis.)

The story is referring to the Brownback/Landrieu Bill that would outlaw ALL HUMAN CLONING, NOT EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH. The House version has passed twice by large, bipartisan margins (which, of course, goes unreported). It is SILENT about using leftover embryos or creating new ones through fertilization for that purpose. The distinction is real. Indeed, there has never been an attempt at the federal level to outlaw embryonic stem cell research. But the media don't care. You can point out their continual misreporting to journalists on this beat until you are blue in the face, and they just refuse to report it right.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lessons From UK "Mercy" Killing

A UK woman named Maureen Messent has come forward to admit that she murdered her great aunt in the 1960s, stating she was right because the aunt, Eileen O'Sullivan, was near death from lung cancer. This is a typical apologia for euthanasia that appears regularly in the media, which are somehow always agog as if such articles have never been written before. Still, there are important lessons to be learned here:

1) There is no indication that O'Sullivan wanted to be killed. The killer took it upon herself. This is classic euthanasia thinking. Once killing to end suffering is transferred in the brain from bad to good, what does consent have to do with it? Thus, in the Netherlands, there have been tens of thousands of such murders over the last thirty years with nary a thing done about it. Messent's article demonstrates that in the end, consent easily becomes a mere technicality, easily tossed aside.

2) Killing is not a medical act. The article say that the doctor left morphine, telling the family to palliate O'Sullivan as needed. Messent decided that was a license to kill. But notice that she is not a doctor and that the doctor didn't do the killing. It doesn't take special training to kill somebody. Just a special arrogance. The Swiss permit assisted suicide, but don't permit doctors to do the killing in their professional capacities. Euthanasia is not a medical act.

3. Today, hospice care for the dying is vastly improved: This killing appears to have happened before Dame Cecily Saunders pioneered in-home hospice in 1969, and perhaps before she opened St. Christophers in 1967. The care available for the dying in those days was far inferior to that of today. Hospice has the capability to control the symptoms of dying people without killing them. The lack of mention in this article about hospice, or of the coverage of it (in the BBC, for example), is so typical. I have been to the UK several times speaking out against euthanasia. For some reason, the media never bring hospice up even though the UK gave hospice to the world.

4. Most euthanasia deaths are not "last minute:" Like most pro euthanasia propaganda, the example of the killing depicts the victim as on the verge of death so that the killing shortened life by a mere hours or a few days. But most legal mercy killings are not "last minute." Not in the Netherlands, not in Belgium, not in Switzerland, and not in Oregon.

The media's continual articles and columns extolling suicide and mercy killing is damaging to the crucial understanding that dying is not dead: It is living. And it constitutes abandonment of those in most need of protection by the community.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Self Cutters to Be Given Sterile Blades?

There was a time when people who wanted to hurt themselves were protected from self destructive behavior. No more. Today, we facilitate self harm, as indicated by this story in which UK nurses want to distribute sterile blades to people who want to cut themselves. Unbelievable.

Bloomberg Donation Supports President's ESCR Policy

It seems that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $100 million to support embryonic stem cell research. This is being touted in the media as somehow opposing President Bush's embryonic stem cell policy (which provides federal funding only for stem cell lines already in existence on 8/9/01).

The opposite is actually true. The President's policy upholds the Dickey Amendment, first enacted in 1996, that forbids the public's money from being used in destructive embryo research. The Dickey Amendment holds that as a matter of federal policy, people who believe that destroying nascent human life is immoral should not be forced to pay for such experiments through their taxes. Private money has always been permitted in federal law to be applied to that purpose.

Thus, Bloomberg is actually materially supporting the President's approach. The mayor thinks that ES cell research is so worthwhile that he's willing to put real money into moving it along. President Bush will not lose a wink of sleep over this. It demonstrates that his policy, and more broadly, the Dickey Amendment, is actually working.

Friday, February 03, 2006

South Korea May Change Its Human Cloning Tune

I hope this story has it right: Apparently in the wake of the Woo-suk Hwang scandal, South Korea is musing with outlawing all human cloning. Good. Cloning is immoral and an affront to human dignity. Moreover, once we start down the cloning road, the experiments would not long be restricted to cloned embryos in Petri dishes but would eventually lead to more radical--such as gestating cloned fetuses. (Live fetal experiments were performed in the 1970s, so there is a history of this kind of ugly research.) Beyond that, widespread cloning threatens women to exploitation for their eggs, as happened in Hwang's own lab. And it would divert tremendous resources away from more urgent current needs and more promising therapies.

Moving into the anti-cloning camp would permit S. Korea to focus its prodigious scientific talent into non controversial areas of inquiry and to better police the experiments that are happening using human patients. Moreover, it would be in accord with the nearly 3-1 vote of the United Nations General Assembly that urged member states to prevent all human SCNT.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Haleigh Poutre Could be Dehydrated Even Though Conscious

One of the misperceptions that arose out of the Terri Schiavo case is that people have to be permanently unconscious before having their tube feeding withdrawn. Not true. Conscious cognitively disabled patients are dehydrated to death in this country all of the time.

It is one thing if a person refuses their own tube feeding. But should a child like Haleigh Poutre be dehydrated based on the value judgments of others about the "quality" of her life? It could happen, as I demonstrate in this article in today's National Review Online.

Should Human Egg Selling be Allowed?

Now, they are looking into the illegal purchase of eggs in the Hwang scandal. Meanwhile, there are legislative proposals to ban the sale of human eggs here in the states. But as seen in an article on egg extraction in the New England Journal of Medicine, some bioethicists promote the purchase and sale of eggs for use in cloning experiments and reproductive therapies. Not too much money, mind you. That might sway decisions. But what isn't "too much" money for a well off bioethicist would be a lot of money for a very poor woman.

Some say in defense of the proposal that we let people sell their blood, so why not their eggs? But most people donate their blood. Those who sell their blood are the poor, and they do it repeatedly to help support themselves. Moreover, blood collection is not nearly as onerous as egg extraction, which can cause significant discomfort and have serious side effects. If egg selling becomes big, the people who will do the selling will mostly be the poor. No wonder so many feminists see cloning as exploitive of women.

Adult Stem Cell Therapy Puts Lupus Into Remission

As to be reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association, in human trials, people with severe lupus have received substantial benefit from their own bone marrow stem cells. This can be a risky procedure because part of the therapy is destroying the immune system with chemotherapy before rebuilding it with the stem cells. (The same type of treatment seems to be helping people with MS stop the progression of the disease.) But it offers great hope to people who have this sometimes devestating auto-immune disease. AND, it was covered by the MSM!