Three-Parent Babies: “light at the end of a very dark tunnel”??!

The United Kingdom’s House of Commons has voted — 382 Members of Parliament “in favour” and 128 against — to introduce laws permitting “the creation of babies from three people.”

During the Commons debate, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told the House “…this is light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”

Speaking of “dark tunnels”, from Dante’s Inferno:

THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE SUFFERING CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST.
JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER;
MY MAKER WAS DIVINE AUTHORITY,
THE HIGHEST WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS
WERE MADE, AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE.

The Narrator’s guide explains:

“For we have reached the place of which I spoke,
where you will see the miserable people,
those who have lost the good of the intellect.”

Christ have mercy.
IMG_1319(source: Wikimedia Commons; author: Robin & Bazylek)

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(British) NHS administers contraceptive implants to girls as young as 10

The British National Health Service can be observed as a beacon for what we might have to expect in future days under our own socialized health system here in the United States.

According to this article in the UK paper, The Telegraph, “in the last 5 years, almost 10,000 slow-acting implants have been placed in girls below the age of consent…. Implants were given to 56 girls aged 12 or younger, with 281 cases involving girls of 13, the figures show. More than 3,000 cases involved girls of 14, with 6,000 implants given to 15-year-olds, disclosures from 61 of 160 NHS trusts show.”

Girls as young as 10 have received contraceptive implants in the UK, “despite the fact the implants have never been tested on under-18s.”

This practice is justified, at least in part, by suggesting that the cases involving exceedingly young girls are for those who are particularly vulnerable — due to mental impairment, for example — or at risk for sexual exploitation.

But how does a contraceptive implant reduce the risk of sexual exploitation? It seems that rather than taking steps to safeguard against the exploitation of girls, what really matters to the NHS is avoiding the consequences of the exploitation, which has the potential for actually exacerbating the exploitation problem itself.

How Many “Bio-Ethicists” Does it Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?

Probably just one. But wouldn’t it be fun to see what would happen if there were two? And if two is fun, maybe three would be even funner. And heck, if our goal is fun and adventure, can a fourth bioethicist contribute anything to installing that lightbulb? No idea. Maybe. Who knows? Let’s try it with four anyway just to see. That would be a blast. Sometimes it’s good to do things “just because”. Because since it’s possible, we should do it. That’s what ethics teaches us. Do what’s possible. Once you find any reason (excuse) for doing a stupid thing, then it becomes an ethical action. If you repeat this mantra, possibly while doing yoga, in the blooming lotus or stretching dog position, it will sounds very ethical indeed. Dooooo whatttttt’ssss posssssible. Bio-Ethics!

“Science” Says Monogamy = Cancer

These so-called “medical studies”, or rather, the reporting on them, could not be more absurd. I’ll explain.

According to the National Cancer Institute, between 2007 and 2011 there were 147.8 new cases of prostate cancer per 100,000 men, and 22.3 per 100,000 men died from prostate cancer in those years.

That means, relatively speaking, that among all men in all age groups there is a .14% chance of developing prostate cancer in a particular year. Of course, as men age they are naturally more likely to get it, so that approximately 15% of all men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime in their life.

So, if your “lifetime risk” is 15%, then a particular behavior or action that is meant to reduce your risk only affects the overall percentage. Thus, if you already only have a 15% risk, then doing — or not doing — a particular thing that purportedly lowers risk by “one third”, actually means that your risk is lowered from 15% to 10%, at best.

My point? Studies that point to any activity and say “this reduces x, or increases y” are generally remarking on measurable, but not entirely significant, differences, and most “lifestyle” studies fail to quantify a host of other factors and variables that may or may not also have impact upon the findings. It might be because of that one thing, but then again, it might be something else that was never even considered. It’s very difficult to “isolate variables” when it comes to behavior and lifestyle.

So when ridiculous articles like this one suggest that it is healthy and good for prostate health for a heterosexual man to have more than 20 female sexual partners in his lifetime, it necessarily fails to properly illustrate the actual impact while focusing instead on the “perceived benefit”, and all the while ignores a variety of alternative possibilities.

And, it’s even more irresponsible (to the extent that the study authors are complicit) and moronic (to the extent that the media can’t seem to read such a study properly) to premise  the conclusion (“promiscuity good, monogamy bad”) upon the researchers’ belief (as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, factual data?) that “…men who are more promiscuous have more sex than those in monogamous relationships.” What’s the basis for that, other than belief?

I allege that studies that are formulated like this one and the news articles that report on the results are constructed for one purpose: to undermine monogamy and justify immoral choices. “Good health” has become a moral imperative in our secular culture, to the point that it will embrace something like promiscuity. The proof? Here:

…When asked whether public health authorities should recommend men to sleep with many women in their lives Dr Parent added: “We’re not there yet.” [But we hope to be soon, because, that’s what our goal is: to recommend lots and lots of promiscuous sex for heterosexual men with multiple female sexual partners, without regard for illegitimate babies, single motherhood, sexually transmitted disease, emotional and psychological health and well-being. As soon as we can craft the right kind of study, we’ll be excited to share the important results with you, and you’ll be on your way to preventing cancer and enjoying life!]

My advice: pay attention and scrutinize these so-called “medical studies,” and ask yourself, what type of social behaviors do they promote, and why?

Equal Time

As I wrote this rant yesterday, which (at least according to today’s news) brought about fairly sharp rebukes from those who actually cherish religious freedom and their First Amendment rights, it occurred to me that it’s fairly surprising that this story could come from Texas.

I imagine that these days most urban centers lean to the left, but I guess I naively believed that even cities in Texas bleed red, with the exception of Austin. One would have thought that rather than Houston, issuing subpoenas to pastors would have come from (oh, I don’t know) San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. 

The Heartland is fading, I suppose.

Anyway, in the spirit of “equal time”, and to help some Texans and Houstonians who may be feeling a little bit embarrassed right now, I give you this disturbing little nugget:

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a law requiring that California health care providers be trained to better understand the specific health needs of the LGBT community.

The law is meant to target inequities in medical treatment for LGBT patients who, according to the San Francisco Examiner, suffer from a lack of provider understanding of gay and transgendered health issues.

Laws like this have nothing whatever to do with delivering quality health care. These laws are ideological. In places like California, it is getting more and more difficult for Pro-Life and Traditional Marriage supporters to enter professions.

The Present State of Medical Ethics is a Sorry Mess

From the "Science of Eugenics" published 100 years ago. There have been so many breakthroughs in this field since then, true?

From the “Science of Eugenics” published 100 years ago. It seems SOOOOO much more scienc-y today, doesn’t it?

Utilitarianism continues to mushroom. Respect for the dignity of the human person, and sound moral principles, command that life is inviolable and that human beings are not commodities to be sold or bartered, and yet today we have the following stories:

1. A 29-year-old woman, suffering from terminal brain cancer, has relocated herself and her family to the state of Oregon so that she can euthanize herself on November 1.

2. The Journal of Medical Ethics suggests that it may be acceptable to harvest a donor’s organs while the donor is living, and thus abandon what is known as the “Dead Donor Rule”.

3. The University of California at San Francisco is offering a new on-line course titled: “Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications”. The professor (ostensibly teaching the course) is quoted: “I think that if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we have been totally successful.” So much for “Do no harm.”

4. A white lesbian sues the sperm bank because she received “black” sperm instead of the “white” sperm that she “ordered” and now alleges that as a result her “mixed-race” daughter will be the victim of prejudice and discrimination. Because a person is a product that you should be able to order and — if you are dissatisfied — send back for a better model.

5. A Belgian couple — both healthy, non-terminally ill octogenarians — plan to jointly end their lives through assisted suicide this coming February 3, their 64th wedding anniversary.  In an especially twisted turn of irony, their children have “aided them in their quest to find a doctor amenable to their wishes” and their son — JOHN PAUL — “ultimately managed to find a doctor to perform the procedure.”

From the CCC (para. 1700):

The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son1 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

Further Hippocratic Oath-Breaking, this time by American Academy of Pediatricians…..

Last week I posted an article concerning one appraisal from the medical community regarding what constitutes “responsibility” on the part of a “man” in a casual sexual relationship.

The latest iteration is this article, which discusses the latest recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics concerning sexually-active teenaged girls.

In a nutshell, the Academy recommends that girls who are sexually active should receive a hormonal implant, or IUD. One of the great problems with “The Pill” is that a girl or woman must take it every day at the same time. Otherwise, it doesn’t do a very good job at preventing pregnancy.

An implant is effective from the time of implantation for up to ten years or until removed. The lead author of the updated recommendation is quoted as saying that “All methods of hormonal birth control are safer than pregnancy.” The words “safe” and “safer” are used euphemistically here. Pre-marital sex is not safe. Hormonal birth control is not safe.

Sure, not being pregnant is safer than being pregnant. Fewer women experience complications from taking hormonal birth control than from the natural process involving the development and safe delivery of a healthy newborn person. That’s like saying that keeping your Ferrari in the garage is safer than driving it. But pre-marital sexual activity for a teenager is driving underage without a license, which no department of motor vehicles would ever condone. Safer does not mean that an implant delivering chemicals so as to artificially regulate one’s reproductive cycle is actually safe. 

Potentially, and ideally, pregnancy is one effect of sexual activity for which there is consequence to both woman and man in the sexual relationship. The natural law makes severe demands on both parties. Even the civil law (as it presently stands) exacts a duty to one’s offspring to provide some minimal support.

Meanwhile, in the case of the use of a hormonal implant or IUD, any of the other effects from sexual activity experienced by a woman (or girl) do not bind the man in any way. Her other injuries are not his concern.

This recommendation is another signal that something even more insidious is afoot. Secular culture continues to find more perverse ways to objectify women, all while calling it empowerment. We are supposed to believe that 50 Shades of Grey and female performers gyrating on stage are good things for feminism. These cultural movements are coupled to recommendations from the medical communities legitimizing sexual activity among the young and unmarried. Pope Francis says that Satan presents things as though they are good, but his intention is destruction.

The age of majority as necessary for consent is being forcefully brought to its terminus, and this new recommendation is more dredge along the way. Younger and younger objects are demanded to sate cultural appetites. The only thing made safer by these new recommendations is how much safer (easier, with fewer external consequences) it will be to objectify and prey on the young.

The Age of Euphemism Victimizes the word “Responsible”…..

…..and the Antithesis of Manhood claims a new exemplar, demonstrating why Western society is in total decay.

Dr. David Bell is from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and is the lead author of a research study recently printed in the “journal” Contraception. He is also the medical director for the Young Men’s Clinic, part of New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Family Planning Clinic.

He states in the article linked above that a “responsible” male sexual partner is one who buys “emergency contraception for their partner” if (or when) “the condom breaks.”

But Dr. Bell complains that even though “Plan B” — the “morning-after pill” — is available for purchase by “any person of any age… without a prescription at U.S. drugstores,” sometimes “men” aren’t permitted to buy it when they go to the pharmacy alone. Sometimes the pharmacy requires a “man” to “bring either a female or her ID with him” before the pharmacy will sell Plan B.

“People should make sure they aren’t putting up additional barriers that prevent men from taking a responsible role within the relationship, Bell said.”

Because, there’s nothing more responsible than paying for the means to kill your own offspring, right?

To test out Dr. Bell’s claims, Reuters sent out young male “mystery shoppers” throughout New York City to see if they could score some Plan B without a female (or her ID) on hand, and were successful at 128 of 158 pharmacies visited. This is important:

Most of the people working at the pharmacies did give the mystery shoppers accurate information about the medication’s effectiveness. One worker incorrectly told a shopper that the medication would cause an abortion.

More euphemism. The claim that Plan B does not “cause” an abortion is premised upon selective definition. Plan B works by preventing implantation of a fertilized embryo (i.e., unborn baby; individual member of the human race) in the uterus. Since abortion involves the removal of an embryo (or fetus) already implanted, it is a technical distinction to claim that Plan B does not cause an “abortion”. All the same, it extinguishes a newly-formed human life. It’s an unborn baby killer.

So, instead of stating that Plan B causes an abortion, it would be more correct to simply state: “This will kill your unborn baby.”

I’m getting tired of the Age of Euphemism highjacking all the words in the dictionary. It is not remotely responsible to aid and abet your casual sexual partner in the termination of your own offspring; it is a shameful perversion of the beauty of human relationships.

If this is “Public Health”, I want know what Public Sickness looks like. Wait, no I don’t.

Only the Litany of Falsity says “The Church is Anti-Science”

The claim that the Church is opposed to scientific study is one of the more, ahem, ignorant of all the claims made against Her.

Holy Mother Church is the progenitor of the university system and the scientific method. Do you know any other churches that fund a team of astronomers and maintain a planetary observatory? Let me know if you do.

So when the Church states that something like embryonic stem cell research is a bad thing, it’s really poor form (i.e., makes you look stupid indeed) to suggest that it’s because the Church is anti-science, against technological progress.

Rather, embryonic stem cell research is bad because scientific study (and Divine Revelation) establishes that an embryo is an unborn individual of the human race, and therefore shares in the human dignity that we all have.

We don’t kill people in order to conduct experiments on them. Destroying an embryo to collect its cells is no different (morally speaking) than forcibly taking all the organs from an unwilling donor.

And, let’s not forget that embryonic stem cell research has yet to deliver on any of things it has promised.

In contrast, the Vatican recently honored Professor Silviu Itescu with the “Key Innovator Award” from the Pontifical Council for Culture for “his leadership and ingenuity in translational science and clinical medicine in the field of adult stem cell therapy.” Professor Itescu is on the brink of “producing a therapy to treat congestive heart failure – the biggest killer in the industrialised world,” that will not require any surgery.

Supporting Secular Charities and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Right now, the Internet is atwitter over the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”. I’ve enjoyed the video clips posted by a few friends in which they “take the challenge” (get a bucket of ice water over the head) and then call out three other friends to follow suit.

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: slgckgc

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: slgckgc

It’s a digital-viral-multi-level-pyramid-charity-marketing-scheme, and in a way, it’s brilliant. A bucket of ice water is cheap and (apart from here in California) plentiful, it can’t harm anyone, but it’s still fun to watch people get soaked. It’s a virtual “dunking booth” experience that everyone can “feel good about” because it’s harmless, and “for a good cause”. 

And, all of this is true, except that while we are “raising awareness” for a particular concern that needs more medical funding, we are also turning a blind eye to the problems with many of our secular charitable organizations. Despite our good intentions, and no matter how laudable the cause is, we cannot fall into consequentialism by supporting organizations that ultimately fail to respect the dignity of all human life. 

The moral dilemma is that many of these organizations support research involving embryonic stem cells. This is bad because (a) embryonic stem cells come from embryosi.e., individual members of the human race whose lives are extinguished in the name of (or secondary to) scientific research, (b) embryonic stem cells have yet to deliver on any promise (that a treatment or cure will come about from them) and (c) even if (when) such a treatment or cure is discovered from research on human embryos, it would not be licit to benefit from such treatment or cure.

Strychnos nuxvomica, a poisonous tree. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Lalithamba

Strychnos nuxvomica, a poisonous tree. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Lalithamba

This is not mere “remote possibility”, but rather through our funding and support, the research that results (to use a legal term) is the “fruit of the poisonous tree”: something that would not exist but for the illicit means that brought it about. 

In the Instruction Dignitas Personaethe CDF introduces the concept: “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world.” Regarding the use of embryos for creation of cell lines, the Church states:

The obtaining of stem cells from a living human embryo… invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit: “research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results, is not truly at the service of humanity. In fact, this research advances through the suppression of human lives that are equal in dignity to the lives of other human individuals and to the lives of the researchers themselves. History itself has condemned such a science in the past and will condemn it in the future, not only because it lacks the light of God but also because it lacks humanity”.

The use of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells derived from them – even when these are provided by other researchers through the destruction of embryos or when such cells are commercially available – presents serious problems from the standpoint of cooperation in evil and scandal.

It isn’t easy being the one who “breaks the chain” and declines to take part in something that, by initial appearances, seems a worthy cause. But as Catholics, we should be aware of many of the pitfalls of the secular world, including climbing on the bandwagon no matter how good the music. In the case of the ALS Association, participation (not the ice bucket part, but the donation to ALS Association) conflicts with Catholic teaching: not only does the ALS fund research on embryonic stem cells, but it also advocates for such funding and research. 

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has offered an alternate approach: participate in the ice bucket challenge, but make the monetary donation to a group other than (in this case) the ALS Association: the Archdiocese suggests donating to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. I’m all for this, and should I be “challenged”, my video will carry the message that the JPII Institute will receive my donation, and in “challenging” three more friends, I’m asking them to do the same. 

Ignorance (the saying goes) is bliss. However, making a monetary contribution is, in a way, something akin to voting: we empower organizations and individuals that we support financially, and we ratify their messages and goals. If you are the type of voter who doesn’t choose candidates and initiatives based upon soundbites and banners, then you shouldn’t be that type of giver either. The American Life League provides a handy reference to help you navigate the waters, whether warm or iced and in a bucket. And, just to give you an idea of how serious this is, here’s just a sample of the organizations (widely viewed as worthy causes) that carry warnings:

ALS Association
Alzheimer’s Association
American Cancer Society
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Red Cross
Live Strong
March of Dimes
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
UNICEF

While the aims (curing disease, ending suffering) of these organizations are laudable, the means by which they would achieve their aims are not. Caution: tread lightly, and avoid hopping on the bandwagon until you know where your money (and time) is going. 

Because eating poisonous fruit has consequences, for body and soul.