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Monthly Archives: December 2016
By | December 29, 2016 , 12:12pm
Cells from cancer victim’s own body help man fight deadly brain cancer
By Dave Andrusko
Paging through the many posts I receive daily about stem cells, I ran across a story that was published by the Associated Press earlier this week under the headline, “Cells dripped into the brain help man fight a deadly cancer.”
I read these stories because they confirm what we have written dozens and dozens and dozens of times in this space: the action in the area of curing or ameliorating diseases is not in harvesting stem cells from helpless unborn children but drawing on cells from a patient’s own body.
There is a lot in the story by Marilynn Marchione, AP’s Chief Medical writer, that is novel, including that the source that was used to treat 50-year-old Richard Grady is not a stem cell, embryonic or otherwise, but another kind of cell from the patient’s own body.
Here’s her lead about what is called CAR-T cell therapy:
A man with deadly brain cancer that had spread to his spine saw his tumors shrink and, for a time, completely vanish after a novel treatment to help his immune system attack his disease – another first in this promising field.
The type of immunotherapy that 50-year-old Richard Grady received already has helped some people with blood cancers such as leukemia. But the way he was given it is new, and may allow its use not just for brain tumors but also other cancers that can spread, such as breast and lung.
Grady was the first person to get the treatment dripped through a tube into a space in the brain where spinal fluid is made, sending it down the path the cancer traveled to his spine.
As always when dealing with this subject area, I turn to Dr. David Prentice, Research Director, Charlotte Lozier Institute, to explain in layman’s terms what is going on. He told NRL News Today
These early clinical results are quite heartening, and highlight another life-saving cell-based research possibility. Like life-saving adult stem cells (and quite unlike life-destroying, and unsuccessful, embryonic stem cells), the CAR-T cell therapy technique uses the patient’s own cells to effect these cancer remissions.
But note these are not stem cells; they are workhorse immune cells from the patient’s body. The cells are removed from the body and genetically modified in the laboratory. The CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) which is added to the cells, targets the modified immune cells to specifically attack the tumor, and also increases the cells’ activity in attacking the cancer.
I asked Dr. Prentice if he could come up with comparison.
Think of it as giving the cells a tumor-targeting homing mechanism, and then juicing them up on caffeine. Their sole, excited purpose is to kill the cancer. And the results point toward more of these cancer therapies on the horizon.
According to Marchione, Grady was one of the 20,000 people who’ve been diagnosed in the U.S. with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive brain tumor. The customary treatments, which Grady underwent, are radiation and chemotherapy which did not prevent the cancer from coming back.
He enrolled in a clinical trial at City of Hope and had some of his own blood cells, called T cells, removed and genetically modified in the lab to turn them into specialized soldiers to seek and destroy cancer.
After Grady had more surgery to remove three of his largest tumors, Marchione writes,
He got six weekly infusions of the cells through a tube into his brain, where the biggest one had been. No cancer recurred there, but the remaining tumors continued to grow, new ones appeared, and cancer spread to his spine.
Doctors decided on a bold step: placing a second tube in his brain, into a cavity where spinal fluid is made, and putting the cells there.
“The idea was to have the flow of the spinal fluid carry the T cells to different locations,” along the route the cancer had taken, [Dr. Benjamin] Badie said.
After three treatments, all tumors had shrunk dramatically. After the 10th treatment, “we saw all the tumors disappear,” and Grady was able to cut back on other medicines and return to work, Badie said.
As always, the caveat is this is experimental therapy, moreover tumors have appeared elsewhere for which Grady is getting radiation. But, as Marchione notes,
his response to immunotherapy lasted more than seven months, and “for him to live more than a year and half” after starting it is amazing for a situation where survival often is measured in weeks, Badie said.
Badie, who is neurosurgery chief at City of Hope, a cancer center in Duarte, California, where Grady was treated, added that Grady had “a remarkable response” that opens the door to wider testing.
“My body, my choice”: Why bodily autonomy doesn’t justify abortion
By Paul Stark
Abortion is justified, many of its defenders argue, because women have a right to control their own bodies. “My body, my choice,” signs and bumper stickers proclaim. The bodily autonomy argument takes a few different forms. None, however, are successful.
Some people think that the unborn (the human embryo or fetus) is a mere part of the woman’s body. But science, of course, has established that the unborn—though physically dependent on and inside of the mother—is a distinct, self-developing individual with his or her own DNA, brain, arms and legs, etc.
Abortion attacks and kills the body of someone else.
Other people believe that even though the unborn is a distinct human organism, a pregnant woman should be able to decide what happens in or to her body. Whereas many arguments for abortion contend that the human being in utero is not a “person” with intrinsic value and rights, this argument holds that abortion is permissible regardless of whether or not the child is a valuable person.
The Sovereign Zone argument
Trent Horn helpfully distinguishes between two variations of this approach. The first version, which he calls the “Sovereign Zone” argument, claims that a woman has an absolute right to do whatever she wants with anything that is inside her body. And the unborn child—even if she is a human person—is currently within that sovereign zone.
But sovereignty cannot be absolute. Consider an analogy: May we do whatever we want with anything that is on our private property? May we attack or kill innocent people who are passing through or seeking refuge? No, we must respect the rights of other people. “Mere ownership,” acknowledges pro-choice philosopher Mary Anne Warren, “does not give me the right to kill innocent people whom I find on my property.” And so it is with pregnancy.
May a pregnant woman ingest drugs that she knows will cause her child to be deformed or disabled? Clearly not. And if knowingly harming the child is wrong, killing her (through abortion) is even worse. Bodily autonomy is important, but there are obvious limits to that autonomy when someone else’s body is also involved.
The Right to Refuse argument
The second, more sophisticated version, which Horn calls the “Right to Refuse” argument, was first introduced by moral philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1971. It contends that a woman has a right to refuse to let the unborn child use her body to survive. Just as a person is not obligated to donate an organ to save the life of someone else, the pregnant woman is not obligated to provide her uterus (and the sustenance and protection it affords) to her child.
This argument has enormous problems. Abortion, in the vast majority of cases, is not merely the withholding or withdrawing of “life support” from the unborn child—it is the intentional and active killing of that child, often by dismemberment. This killing violates the child’s right to life (the right not to be intentionally killed) and right to bodily integrity. Indeed, “if people have a right to bodily integrity and so do not have a duty to donate a kidney,” writes philosopher Christopher Kaczor, “then people in utero have a right not to have their bodily integrity fatally violated through abortion” [www.amazon.com/Ethics-Abortion-Question-Routledge-Bioethics/dp/041573293X].
Moreover, even if abortion were not intentional killing (i.e., if it were simply a refusal to aid the child by removing her from the womb), abortion would still be wrong because a pregnant woman does have an obligation to allow her baby to live and grow in the womb. Here’s why.
First, the father and mother, except in cases of rape, willingly engaged in an activity that caused the creation of a new, dependent human being. So they bear responsibility for the resulting child.
Second, parents have special obligations to their dependent offspring that they do not have to others. Fathers, for example, must pay child support even if they did not intend or desire to become fathers. Parents may not abandon their children or refuse to provide for their needs (though they may relinquish those obligations through adoption).
Indeed, more generally, “we are by nature members of communities,” explains ethicist Patrick Lee. “[O]ur flourishing involves being in communion with others. And communion with others of itself—even if we find ourselves united with others because of a physical or social relationship which precedes our consent—entails duties or responsibilities.”
Parental obligation may not require extraordinary acts (like donating a kidney), but it does require basic, ordinary care, such as the nourishment and shelter provided during pregnancy. If unborn children are valuable members of the human family, like born children, then the same parental duties that apply after birth are present beforehand as well.
Third, the purpose of the uterus is to gestate the unborn child—it is where that child belongs. All human beings, during their prenatal stages of development, rely on it for care and protection. “The uterus exists for the unborn child rather than for the mother,” notes Stephanie Gray [www.endthekilling.ca/sites/default/files/publications/publications_a_kidney_versus_the_uterus.pdf]. It is reasonable to think that a child has a right to live in her natural environment.
Finally, even apart from the other reasons, a moral obligation seems to arise when we alone are in a position to provide ordinary care (food and shelter) to someone who needs it to survive.
“Suppose you live in a cabin far out in the wilderness, cut off from civilization by extreme distance and weather for much of the year, say, nine months,” writes Mathew Lu, a philosophy professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. “One day you return to the cabin to discover that an infant has been left at the door without explanation. … Do you have an obligation to care for the infant, who will surely die if you do not take it in?”
Most people would say yes. “[W]e have a general obligation to protect the vulnerable, and a special obligation towards those we contingently encounter,” Lu concludes.
Bodily rights do not justify abortion
The right to control one’s body does not justify the intentional killing of others. Nor does it nullify our obligations to the youngest and most vulnerable members of the human family.
Indeed, the autonomy argument turns common sense and justice upside down. The unique nature of pregnancy—the bodily dynamic between an unborn child and her mother—is not, as the argument supposes, a reason to think that killing or neglect is permissible. It is, instead, a reminder that human beings are connected to and dependent on each other.
“The so-called right to abortion has … sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships,” observed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters.”
This “unconscionable power,” Mother Teresa said, must be rejected. Both mother and child deserve respect, protection, and care.
Editor’s note. Mr. Stark is Communications Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, NRLC’s state affiliate. This appeared in the latest edition of MCCL’s newsletter , MCCL News.
Counting Down the 16 Top Pro-Life Moments of 2016
By Andrew Bair
1.The March for Life goes on in the face of historic DC blizzard: Despite many buses being forced to turn around to avoid the impending blizzard heading for the nation’s capital, there was still a strong and dedicated showing pro-life support on the streets of Washington for the 2016 March for Life. It’s clear that no amount of snow or bad weather can shake the commitment of the pro-life grassroots!
2. Four states enact a ban on dismemberment abortions: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia joined a growing number of states in banning the horrific dismemberment abortion method. These laws not only protect unborn babies but serve to educate the public about the brutality of abortion. Read more about dismemberment abortions.
3. Ohio, South Carolina, and South Dakota join 12 other states in passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: This important legislation extends legal protection to unborn children 20 weeks and older. Substantial medical and scientific evidence shows that by this stage, if not earlier, babies are capable of experiencing pain.
4.. Other state legislative victories included Oklahoma passing the pro-education Humanity of the Unborn Child Act, Georgia passing positive alternatives legislation, Indiana passing a ban on selective abortions based on sex or disability, and Louisiana increasing their waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.
5. The 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment: First enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment has saved an estimated 2 million lives from abortion. This annual appropriations amendment stops taxpayer dollars from being used to fund most abortions and abortion coverage through government programs like Medicaid.
6. Pro-Life candidates triumph in 2016 elections: Up and down the ballot, pro-life candidates scored impressive victories. Here is how National Right to Life fared in the 2016 elections:
7. Hillary Clinton forced to defend late abortions during presidential debate: During the final presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace brought up the topic of abortion. In a moment that was even cringe worthy for Democrats, Clinton reaffirmed her support for the partial-birth abortion method and abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. By contrast, Trump said, “I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges.”
8. Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List spend big and lose big in the 2016 elections: Millions upon millions of dollars were spent by the political arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider and by EMILY’s List, a radical pro-abortion PAC that only backs female Democrats who support abortion without limits. Planned Parenthood alone spent at least $38 million in the elections.
9. Pro-Life selections announced for key cabinet positions: The incoming Administration has announced the selection of several pro-life champions for key roles. These include Rep. Tom Price for HHS Secretary, Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, Gov. Nikki Haley for U.N. Ambassador, and Kellyanne Conway as Counselor to the President.
10. Doritos Super Bowl commercial highlights humanity of unborn children, provokes outrageous meltdown from abortion advocates: NARAL Pro-Choice America lost it on social media during the Super Bowl when a Doritos ad featured an unborn baby on an ultrasound. They trashed the ad for “humanizing fetuses,” further exposing how out of touch the pro-abortion movement really is.
11. U.S. House and Senate send filibuster-proof reconciliation bill to President Obama’s desk that would have defunded Planned Parenthood: Despite President Obama’s veto, the move set a precedent for advancing such a bill under a new president, without 60 votes in the U.S. Senate.
12. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell holds the line and prevents the appointment of pro-abortion Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court: By holding off a Senate vote on Obama’s Supreme Court pick, McConnell injected the issue of the Supreme Court into the 2016 elections, an issue which helped mobilize many pro-life voters. Now, the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia will be filled by someone chosen by the President-elect, who repeatedly promised to appoint someone who reflects Scalia’s judicial philosophy.
13. Pro-Life traitor Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC-02) defeated in GOP Primary: There were many electoral triumphs for the pro-life movement in 2016 but the defeat of Rep. Renee Ellmers was particularly symbolic. In early 2015, Ellmers launched an extended public campaign against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Although the bill ultimately passed the House, the delay and damage inflicted by Rep. Ellmers diminished its chances in the Senate, where pro-abortion senators were able to organize a successful filibuster to prevent the ban from advancing despite the support of a majority of senators. “There is no member of Congress in recent memory who did greater harm to a major piece of pro-life legislation, while claiming to be pro-life, than Renee Ellmers,” said Douglas Johnson, Director of Federal Legislation for National Right to Life.
14. Latest CDC report shows a 5% decline in abortions nationwide: The latest numbers from the CDC are confirmation that America is moving, perhaps even accelerating, towards a culture more hospitable to unborn life. Read the report from NRLC’s Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon.
15. Pro-Life advocates shine light on the tragic legacy of Planned Parenthood on its 100th birthday: In 2016, Planned Parenthood celebrated 100 years since its founding. While it celebrated a birthday, there were millions unable to celebrate birthdays due to abortion.
16. House Select Panel on Infant Lives investigates harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts, highlights importance of protecting born-alive abortion survivors: Testifying before the panel in April, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, the prime sponsor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, hit the nail on the head when he noted, “Here, on this basic reality, we can and must find agreement: Babies are not the sum of their body parts. Babies are not meant to be bought. Babies are not meant to be sold. Babies are just that—babies. They’re meant to be welcomed and rejoiced over, held and nurtured.”
Friends for Life:
The “Heartbeat Bill” and the “Pain-Capable Bill” – two prolife pieces of legislation which would curtail abortions and challenge Roe v. Wade sit on Ohio Governor Kasich’s desk. Please pray that God’s will be done and this pro-life legislation moves forward so that unborn children may have what we all enjoy: THE RIGHT TO LIFE! You may consider calling the Governor’s office (614-466-3555) to voice your support particularly for the Heartbeat Bill. While there are disagreements in the pro-life community about the bill, it has forced people from here locally, to anchors on CNN to talk about the fact that at 6 weeks, the baby’s heart beats. What a testimony to the dignity of their lives.
To pray for these two pieces of legislation and for an end to abortion in our own community, we’ll gather for a Candlelight Vigil this Thursday December 15th at 5:30 p.m. at Capital Care, 1160 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo. Join us for an hour as we witness to the light that Christ brings into the world and as we boldly proclaim to death that LIFE has the final victory in Jesus Christ our Lord! Please see attached flyer for more information.
Secondly, we still have plenty of spots open on our buses for the March for Life this January. Our trip is open to the young at heart so if you’d like to join us please send in your registration today as this Thursday the 15th is the cut-off date! To register, send $129 in check or cash to Catholic Charities, 1933 Spielbusch Ave., Toledo Oh 43604 and be sure to put “March for Life” in the memo line. Only $99 for college students! Registration payments due December 15! Be sure to include email, cell phone, school you attend (or place of work) and hotel rooming preference!
Finally, in my last email I mentioned we’ll be having a prayer vigil January 12th for the abolition of the death penalty. We’ve moved that date to January 11th to proceed and intercede for the man on death row. Join us at 6 pm on January 11th at St. Francis de Sales Chapel, 501 Cherry St., Toledo. More information to come – just save the date as Bishop Daniel Thomas will be leading us in prayer.
From the moment of conception until death we proclaim during this season of Advent that every life is worth living, every life is redeemable, and there is no sin so deep, that’s God’s mercy is not deeper still. Join us in this fight for life!
For the King!
Director of Office for Life and Justice
Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo
1933 Spielbusch Ave.
Toledo, OH 43604
419-244-6711, ext. 4933
How Secrecy and Immunity Destroy “Safeguards” in Assisted Suicide LawsBy Nancy Valko
Finally this November, a mainstream media source, the Des Moines Register, investigated some of the problems with legalized physician-assisted suicide in other states such as complications during the process, prolonged deaths, non-existent or incomplete data in assisted suicide and even the “disputed meaning of ‘self-administer’” of the lethal overdose. This is crucial since Iowa is considering an assisted suicide bill in the legislature.
However, the Register’s reporting ignored one of the most dangerous legal problems in assisted suicide laws: the criminal, civil and professional immunity given to doctors and others involved as long as they claim they acted in “good faith.”
In addition, the secrecy and often yearly destruction of even the minimal information self-reported by the doctors–as well as falsified death certificates listing such deaths as natural effectively–destroys any pretense of an enforceable law.
This has made enforcement of so-called “safeguards” virtually impossible in states with legalized assisted suicide and affects even a state like my home state of Missouri that has a law with penalties to prohibit assisted suicide.
THE MISSOURI EXPERIENCE
Missouri’s law against assisted suicide states:
A person commits the crime of voluntary manslaughter if he knowingly assists another in the commission of self-murder. — Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.023.1
Yet despite years of failure, the pro-assisted suicide forces are again trying this year to get the standard assisted suicide bill passed in the Missouri legislature.
However, enforcement of the current Missouri law has been problematic. In the only case involving a health care professional, just a five years probation plea agreement was reached before a trial despite a nurse admitting she killed the patient, not assisting a suicide.
In 2001, Daillyn Pavia, RN faced murder charges after she admitted giving a lethal dose of morphine to a new patient who had just had a stroke and was taken off life support. According to police, Pavia admitted to co-workers that she had “without authorization and within a half-an-hour of taking charge of Julia Dawson as her patient … intentionally (given) Ms. Dawson 15 times the maximum dosage of morphine that had been prescribed” as well as Propofol, a strong sedative, that was not prescribed. The victim’s son defended the nurse’s action, saying it was done out of compassion and should not be prosecuted.
In 2003, 2 years later, nurse Pavia pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 5 years probation. Nurse Pavia did not show up at a hearing before the Missouri State Board of Nursing which noted that Pavia was placed “on five years of supervised probation with the special condition that she surrender her nursing license.”
(Ironically, this decision followed on the heels of the decision not to prosecute Dr. Lloyd Thompson, then head of the Vermont Medical Society, for intentionally giving a paralyzing, “life ending drug” to an elderly woman with terminal cancer whose breathing machine had been removed. The family opposed prosecuting the doctor. Instead Thompson was reprimanded by the Vermont Medical Practice Board that required a monitoring and review of his care of all terminally ill patients. 10 years later, Vermont became the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.)
I could find only two other cases of people being charged with assisting a suicide in Missouri. One occurred in 1996 when Velma Howard, a woman with ALS, died of suffocation in a motel with family members who admitted giving her sleeping medication, alcohol, and a plastic bag. The prosecuting attorney later dropped charges against the family members.
The Jacob Runge assisted suicide case in 2010 resulted in a jury acquitting a young man who provided a gun to his emotionally disturbed friend in a self-described mutual suicide pact but said he could not go through with killing himself.
FALLOUT AND CONSEQUENCES
The fallout from these cases, like many others around the country, show that if someone–even a doctor or nurse–claims that they acted out of “mercy,” it is unlikely that a person will face more than a slap on the wrist for ending or helping to end an ill or troubled person’s life.
In addition for those of us who are ethical and conscientious nurses, we feel the chilling effect discouraging us from even reporting other health care providers like nurse Pavia in such cases since we may face repercussions ourselves, including firing. There are apparently no real whistleblower protections for nurses (and thus the public) in such cases, especially since these cases routinely garner much media and public sympathy for the perpetrators and routinely result in minimal if any penalties. Conscience rights may not be enough to protect our patients and ourselves.
As a 2014 Medscape article titled “Should Nurses Blow the Whistle or Just Keep Quiet?” by a nurse/lawyer author explains with regard to patient safety violations (which, of course, should include reporting the killing of a patient) :
Am I recommending that nurses adopt the “see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing” attitude? No. I am saying that under current law, it is safer for a nurse not to report than to report. That surprises me, and it may be right- or wrong-minded, but it’s the way it is. (Emphasis added.)
This is exactly what pro-assisted suicide groups like Compassion and Choices could have hoped for when they fashioned the immunity protections and the secrecy of even the minimal self-reporting standards in their assisted suicide laws. Eliminating the possibility of future potential lawsuits or prosecutions is what keeps their myth of “no problems, no abuses” alive.
Unfortunately, that is also what puts all of us and our loved ones at risk, especially when we are at our most vulnerable. With legalized assisted suicide laws now quickly expanding to other states, we must step up our efforts to educate the public and fight against the well-funded and relentless Compassion and Choices machine.
And there is one significant effort that any of us can do. Consider asking your own doctor or health care provider where he or she stands on assisted suicide and feel free to state your position. If your doctor is in favor of assisted suicide, you might want to consider asking for a referral to another doctor who refuses to provide assisted suicide.
The life you save may be your own.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Nancy’s blog.