Category: Prolife Issues

The Handicapped

To Protest Negative Treatment

The members of Right to Life of Michigan have been shocked and saddened by the ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court permitting denial of food and medical care to a newborn baby with a physical defect in the so called “Infant Doe” case (April, 1982), Bloomington, Indiana. This opens the way to denying rights to people on the basis of handicap or defect and the possible denial of rights to whole races or economic groups that prejudiced judges may consider “naturally defective.”

We point out that the 1973 Rehabilitation Act forbids any discrimination against the handicapped by persons or organizations, including hospitals, and health care facilities benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance.

We urge the President of the United States to fully enforce all protection in this Act, and we urge all Michigan Congressmen to use their influence to support such enforcement. We are aware that the non-treatment and even starvation of babies born handicapped is occurring with increasing frequency in medical institutions and we urge Congressional hearings to investigate such alleged discrimination to see if the law has been enforced in the past and to determine if new legislation is needed. We also urge our state legislators to study conditions in Michigan to see if legal protections and enforcements are adequate in this state. We declare our support for organizations working for the rights of those with handicaps. We support measures to make a ward of the Court any handicapped minor who appears to be singled out – by parents, hospitals, and/or any other relevant authority – for determined, life threatening neglect.

We call upon fair minded citizens of all races, politics and creeds to protest the inhumane “Infant Doe” ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court. We believe that a nation which has conquered killer diseases and sends men into space will also conquer the killer mentality that sees death as a proper answer to the problems of life.

Positive treatment – On the national scene, there is one bright and encouraging sign of re-awakening respect for life. This is embodied in widespread efforts to bring the physically and mentally challenged into the mainstream of society.

  • The Special Olympics have given the mentally challenged a chance to compete, to excel, to win…and to take a praiseworthy step toward making these people accepted and understood.
  • We applaud the move towards specialized classes tailored to educate the blind, the deaf, the retarded and emotionally disturbed.
  • We strongly second the moves made by interested groups to upgrade the care of the elderly in nursing homes, and send forth a special plea not to let the whirlwind pace of our lives keep us from paying these elderly the attention and affection they deserve.
  • These efforts give us reason to hope that we shall all move with one heart to embrace our physically and mentally challenged brothers and sisters, for these concerns will be the sturdy paving for the road back to a re-awakening Respect for Life.

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Is It Necessary?

Embryonic stem cell research is one of the most controversial issues of the day.  For many people, the reality that stem cells can be obtained from adults, fat and umbilical cord blood, is unknown.

The following information gives examples of arguments for the side advocating the killing of embryos for research and then gives rebuttals to these arguments. For many people, the reality that stem cells can be obtained from adults, fat and umbilical cord blood is unknown. Educating others that stem cell research can be pursued without taking the life of a human embryo is needed. Prolife people also want to see cures for diseases, but not at the expense of members of the human race.


If they say….
Stem cells aren’t alive. If stem cells possess life-saving possibilities, why shouldn’t they be used for research?

You say….
You are right, stem cells aren’t alive. However, a living human embryo must be destroyed in order to obtain embryonic stem cells. Every time embryonic stem cells are extracted from a human embryo, a unique individual is destroyed. The removed stem cells would have developed into the child’s heart, kidneys and all of the 210 different kinds of tissue found in the human body1.

Embryos have the 46 chromosomes that make them human. It is already decided if they will be a boy or a girl. It is already decided what color eyes they will have. From the first day of conception until death, nothing has or will be added to them except food and oxygen.


If they say….
It’s just a frozen fertilized egg. What’s the big deal?

You say….
This statement is false. A fertilized egg is the term used to describe a one-cell human in its first day of development. A fertilized egg does not have any stem cells to extract because it is only one cell. Embryonic stem cells are removed from embryos who are around a week old. These embryos are called blastocysts and they number several hundred cells.

Life begins at conception. We all began life when a sperm joined an ovum. The size of a human body doesn’t give life value. Is a 6’5, 300-pound man more valuable than a newborn child?

It is also important to mention that an embryo is no less valuable if she is frozen than if she is in her mother’s womb. The stage of development, temperature, and size of a child don’t determine its value. The fact that an embryo is a human life is what makes her priceless.


If they say…
It doesn’t even look like a human.

You say….
Actually, it does look human. This is exactly how every human looks during this stage of development. Every human looked the same shortly after conception. Just because people aren’t as familiar with this stage of development doesn’t mean that an embryo isn’t human and doesn’t look like a human.

Many people have different deformities or peculiarities that take away from their ability to look like the “ideal human.” That doesn’t mean that they’re not human and that they don’t have the same rights as other humans. The way something looks doesn’t make it human.

Some believe stem cells from human embryos are human enough for research, but not human enough to join the human family. This logic defies the reality that life begins at conception, a truth some researchers and politicians would like to ignore.


If they say….
All of these embryos will just be destroyed anyway, so why not use them for helpful research?

You say….
Embryonic research advocates act like all of the embryos in fertility clinics that aren’t used will be thrown away. This, however, is simply not the case. The parents generally have at least two other options. First, preserve the embryos for possible future use (chosen by about 90%). Two, donate the embryos to another couple so they can have a child.

Even if the embryos are going to be destroyed that doesn’t mean that we have the right to experiment with their bodies. Was it right for Nazi doctors to experiment with concentration camp prisoners that were going to be killed? Is it right for us to experiment with convicts on death row? The obvious answer is no. As a civilized society, we recognize the importance of human life. In order to stay a civilized society we can’t abandon our respect for every individual human being.

It is theorized that embryos from fertilization clinics will be used for the initial experiments. However, if these experiments are successful, some in the biotechnology community have anticipated that the supply of embryos from clinics wouldn’t be enough. This is where human cloning enters the picture. During a Congressional Committee, Biotechnology Industry Organization said that the cloning of embryos “are a critical and necessary step in the production of sufficient quantities of vigorous replacement cells for the clinical treatment of patients.”


If they say….
Embryos are the only place to find stem cells.

You say….
There are many life-affirming alternatives to stem cells taken from destroyed embryos. Initially, alternative stem cell research was not extensive because alternative stem cells were thought to be less available and versatile. However, there have been many recent breakthroughs in the use of stem cells that are derived from alternatives to embryos. The most promising of these alternative methods is the use of adult stem cells. All people have stem cells located in blood, bone marrow, and brains. In rats and mice, it has been found that scientists can use key cells from adult bone marrow and can rebuild a damaged heart—actually creating new heart muscle and blood vessels2. The British Medical Journal has stated that research on embryonic stem cells “may soon be eclipsed by the more readily available and less controversial adult stem cells3.” Adult bone marrow stem cells have been shown to form tissues including bone, muscle, fat, liver, and neural cells4. There is also the case of an 18 year-old women whose spinal cord was severed in automobile accident. Thanks to white blood cells from her own skin and bone marrow that have been injected into the damaged area, she now has regained bladder control and recovered significant motor function in her legs.

Researchers have also found stem cells in human fat. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and UCLA got fat from liposuction patients and then collected stem cells from this fat which grew into muscle, bone, and cartilage cells5.

Another important note is that stem cells derived from the bodies of patients don’t face the possibility of rejection, unlike embryonic stem cells. This rejection can lead to death since the cells can’t be extracted once the are injected.

Yet another promising alternative to embryonic stem cell research that doesn’t have ethical implications is research on stem cells found in the blood of umbilical cords. The small amount of blood found in umbilical cords after birth is rich in stem cells. Researchers have said “Umbilical cords discarded after birth may offer a vast new source of repair material for fixing brains damaged by strokes and other ills, free of the ethical concerns surrounding the use of fetal tissue6.”

These preceding examples are only a few of the many alternatives to human embryo stem cells. For a long list of alternative research and findings to go to and look at the current clinical and potential applications of adult stem cells.


If they say….
Without embryonic stem cell research, the great potential of stem cells is wasted.

You say….
As mentioned above there are many life-affirming alternatives to embryonic stem cell research. Continued research is needed for these kinds of research but if the federal government begins to fund embryonic stem research that means that there will be less federal funds for research on adult stem cells. On March 8, 2001, a group of plaintiffs, including the Christian Medical Association filed suit against the NIH to prevent federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The lawsuit argued that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research would cut the funding available for adult stem cell research7.


If they say….
Scientists should be allowed to do the research. Who is the government to stop them?

You say….
The Bush administration isn’t deciding if embryonic stem cell research should be illegal. It is deciding if federal funds should go towards supporting this kind of research. There is a law, called the “Dickey Amendment,” which states that federal funds can’t be used for “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.” The Clinton administration got around this law by accepting the NIH (National Institutes of Health) Guidelines that separated the research on the embryonic stem cells from the act of obtaining those stem cells. So researchers would have to privately fund the obtaining of stem cells through the destruction of human embryos but could get public funds for research on those cells. Our government shouldn’t be involved in promoting research that involves and requires the destruction of innocent human lives.


If they say….
Embryonic stem cells have already helped people. Isn’t that evidence enough?

You say….
Actually, embryonic stem cells have probably done more damage than help to humans. The whole argument behind research on embryonic stem cells is based on potential cures not current cures. There are a few problems with using embryonic stem cells in actual surgeries.

One problem is that these cells are completely undifferentiated so they don’t always become what researchers want them to become. There was an experiment in China, where a man with Parkinson’s was injected with fetal and embryo cells. He died unexpectedly after improving briefly. His autopsy revealed that his death was caused by the “unexpected growth of bone, skin, and hair in his brain, material the authors theorized resulted from the transformation of undifferentiated stem cells into non-neural, and therefore deadly, tissues8.”

Another problem is that the undifferentiated stem cells could become cancer cells. In an interview with Technology Review, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology publication, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Glenn McGee said, “The emerging truth in the lab is that pluripotent (embryonic) stem cells are hard to rein in. The potential that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem cell transplant might turn out to be the Pandora’s box of stem cell research.”


If they say….
This kind of research could save lives and we should explore all areas of research that could find ways to cure such a wide array of diseases.

You say….
Even though this research could be helpful, it is still never ethically correct to sacrifice the life of one human to save another without their consent. This kind of utilitarian thinking was the same kind of rationale used by Nazi scientists and during syphilis experiments on African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Medical advancement should continue but not through the taking of human life. No human being should be forced to be made the subject of research without their permission, especially if that research leads directly to their destruction.


References:
1 Prentice, D., No Fountain of Youth, Regeneration Online.
2 Bazell, R. “Approach may repair heart damage,” NBC Nightly News, 3/30/01.
3 Jofeson, D., Adult Stem Cells May be Redefinable, British Medical Journal, January 30, 1999; 318, p. 282.
4 Prentice, D., No Fountain of Youth, Regeneration Online.
5 Lemonick, M., Who Will Live Longest?, Time, April 23, 2001, p. 64
6 “Umbilical cords could repair brains,” Associated Press, 2/20/01.
7 Boston Globe, 3/14/2001.
8 Smith, W. “The Politics of Stem Cells: The good news you never hear.”, The Weekly Standard, March 26, 2001/Vol 6, Number 27

Special thanks to Right to Life of Michigan for providing this article.

March of Dimes

Since January 1976, Right to Life of Michigan has adopted a non-support policy toward March of Dimes. This was adopted only after a three-year study of March of Dimes (M.O.D.) activities and publications, and after a high level meeting with M.O.D. national and state officers.

The crux of our difference is the amniocentesis testing for “defective” babies in utero which M.O.D. sponsors and promotes. Such tests cannot be made before the 14th to 18th weeks of pregnancy and take an additional four to six weeks for results. Between 95% and 100% of the “defectives” thus identified are destroyed in second trimester abortions. An additional 1% of babies tested are miscarried as a result of the test.

These figures are taken from two studies done by or assisted by M.O.D. in 1975 and 1979. Whenever treatment can take place in the womb, Right to Life of Michigan supports and encourages it (ex: RH babies), but the overwhelming majority of defects tested for have no known treatment or cure.

M.O.D. at no time has directly funded abortions but it has inaugurated a massive nationwide movement whose aim is to make amniocentesis testing a customary medical procedure in mid trimester pregnancy. It has become our personal experience in recent years that pregnant women, especially in their mid-30’s, are being pressured by their doctors to have the test. We see this as a direct result of M.O.D. influence among high government circles and the media.

We have made it clear to M.O.D. that we admire their good works of the past as well as those going forward today. We have asked them to drop this facet of their program but their response has been negative, and until it changes, our policy must remain in place.

We truly sympathize with parents of handicapped and suspected handicapped in utero, but feel that unwavering defense of the unborn, the born, the sick, the well, the helpless as well as the helping, must be the starting point from which we tackle society’s problems.

Nonviolence & Picketing

Nonviolence

Peaceful solutions to the violence of abortion are the goal of Right to Life of Michigan.

For over a decade our members have marched, educated, lobbied, and voted for peaceful solutions to the violent ending of life. Each day, during every abortion procedure, babies are dismembered and women often suffer long-lasting physical and psychological harm. The violence of abortion kills approximately 1.5 million babies each year.

Recent bombings and arson in other parts of the nation against abortion facilities concern Right to Life of Michigan. To counter violence with violence is against our principles. Prolifers have consistently worked peacefully through the democratic process in order to reach our goal – the end of violence within clinic walls. We are a peaceful movement.

Clearly, the actions against abortion clinics are unrelated to Right to Life of Michigan and its legislative and educational efforts. We reject any attempts to link these isolated incidents to the Michigan prolife movement which is composed of citizens throughout the state who are committed to restoring the civil rights of the unborn child and additionally to helping the woman facing a problem pregnancy.

There are peaceful alternatives to abortion. There have to be.
(Adopted 1985)

Picketing

The health of a democratic society is fostered by the open expression of dissent by its citizenry on matters of justice and social policy. Public protest on matters of conscience is a fundamental part of the American tradition.

In the present context of the legalization of abortion-on-demand by fiat of the U.S. Supreme Court (which swept aside statutes restricting abortion in every state), Right to Life of Michigan finds it entirely appropriate that citizens should exercise their free speech rights to publicly express opposition to the callous destruction of human life by abortion.

Picketing activities at abortion facilities, and in the context of appearances by government officials who espouse a pro-abortion position, serve to awaken the public conscience to the presence and evil of abortion, and to educate abortion clinic clients, those accompanying them, clinic personnel and the general public about the value of the unborn child, the potential physical and psychological harm to the mother as well as positive alternatives to abortion.

Both the United States and Michigan Constitutions protect the fundamental free speech rights of citizens to peaceably speak, assemble, picket and leaflet in public places. Right to Life of Michigan supports picketing activities which exercise these free speech rights on behalf of the unborn, provided that any statutes or ordinances against trespassing or blocking accesses to public or private property are not violated, and provided that no tactics designed to intimidate or harass abortion clinic clients, those accompanying them, clinic personnel, counter demonstrators or any member of the public are employed. Conscious of the fact that many women who opt for abortion do so under the duress of difficult circumstances, Right to Life of Michigan encourages picketing activities which communicate to women considering abortion and the public at large a willingness to assist in any way possible with difficult circumstances accompanying a decision to choose life of an unborn child.

Population

Right to Life of Michigan urges its fellow citizens not to permit non-factual population conclusions to be used as an excuse for destroying human beings.

Careful studies have revealed that the population of the world is a non-issue relative to space, food, pollution levels and quality of life. Leading agricultural economists state that the earth can feed ten times its present population according to western world standards.

The real problems to be solved are those which force poverty, inadequate food distribution, malnutrition and pollution and lay the blame for those avoidable miseries at the feet of the victims.

School-Based Clinics

“Throughout the United States there is growing concern over the promotion of teen health centers and/or school-based clinics (SBCs). These concerns include: promotion of abortion, jeopardizing the quality of education, duplicity of services, cost of programs, liability of providers, ineffectiveness of services, lack of parental involvement, conflicts of values and racial discrimination.”

All the above objections raise legitimate questions. Right to Life of Michigan opposes teen health centers and/or school-based clinics because evidence shows that such programs open the door to family planning services which promote abortion as a solution to teenage pregnancy.

1. Real Purpose of School-Based Clinics

In the wake of strong public opposition to the controversial family planning/abortion focus of SBCs, promoters have attempted to diffuse criticism by camouflaging the clinics as “comprehensive health care centers.”

The fact remains that the SBC movement was pioneered by, and continues to be spearheaded by, recognized pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Population Options. Even where on-site dispensing of contraceptives and abortion counseling have been prohibited by school boards or state laws, referral schemes that funnel students to nearby Planned Parenthood or other family planning clinics have been used to effectively allow the clinics to fulfill their primary aim.

2. Abortion Line Documented

While SBC advocates carefully discuss the birth control aspect of their programs in terms of “contraception,” it is important to note that “family planning” always includes “the full range of options,” of course, including abortion. And abortion counseling and referrals are a documented part of SBCs already operating in Michigan. The executive director of Muskegon Planned Parenthood openly acknowledged in an article in the Muskegon Chronicle (July 4, 1986) that of five students who had become pregnant in the 1985-86 school year while enrolled at an SBC operated by her organization in the Muskegon Heights School system, four were referred for abortions by clinic staff. Recognizing that 90 percent of existing SBCs provide pregnancy tests and that states cannot require parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion, it would be naive to think that clinics do not commonly assist teens in obtaining abortions.

3. No Evidence of Effectiveness

After 15 years and more than 500 million dollars spent on attempting to combat teen pregnancy by use of contraceptives and abortions, the record of traditional family planning programs is one of documented failure. The conclusions of a careful study by Drs. Stan Weed and Joseph Olsen of the Institute for Research and Evaluation published in the Wall Street Journal (October 31, 1986) show that the traditional teen family planning programs are associated not with lower, but higher, rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, with birth rates declining moderately due to the promotion of abortion.

Media accounts have uncritically accepted claims of success for model SBC programs in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baltimore, Maryland, but in both cases only birth rates, not pregnancy rates, declined modestly, and serious methodological flaws in record keeping preclude a scientific assessment of results.

4. Parental Rights Are Violated

SBCs violate the fundamental rights of parents to raise and discipline their children. Parents give only blanket approval for a teen to participate in an SBC program, and are usually unaware that, by law, they will not be notified if their child is directed to an abortion clinic or given other sensitive family planning counsel. In fact, at two model SBC programs in the Muskegon Heights, Michigan school system, parents must send a slip to school asking that their teen not be enrolled in the clinic, otherwise, consent is assumed.

A teen’s records are the property of the SBC, and are kept confidential from both parents and the school board. The clinic staff is assumed to have greater interest and wisdom than parents in counseling a teen in the most sensitive decisions of life, and is completely protected by law from disclosure of their counsel to either parents or school board.

Surrogate Parenting Contracts

The practice of surrogate parenting has made human life a marketable commodity. In a surrogate arrangement, a couple enlists the womb of a woman for predetermined fees, she carried the baby (a product) for nine months, and then releases the baby to the couple. Such contracts often provide for medical and other expenses related to the surrogate pregnancy as well as compensation for the services rendered; i.e., the production of a healthy, desirable child. Also, included may be criteria for acceptance of the child under the contract.

Regardless of the moral, ethical, or legal considerations surrounding those who enter into surrogate parenting contracts, Right to Life of Michigan opposes surrogate parenting because the life of the child so conceived may be threatened as a result of the contractual agreement.

Abortion is likely to be used to insure that the child meets the contractual criteria. The purchasing couple may be happy with a perfect baby, but what happens if a couple learns that the baby is “imperfect” before birth? (Amniocentesis and other prenatal testing procedures are often used to seek out an “imperfect” unborn child. Assuredly, “quality control” will be achieved through abortion. Some surrogate contracts even provide for prenatal testing and agreements to abortion if disabilities are detected.) It is even possible to specify in a contract the right sex of a surrogate parented child; the “wrong” sex can simply be aborted. The unborn child has no protection – the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision invalidates all attempts to save the life of the unborn child that fails to meet contractual criteria.

Infanticide will likely be considered in instances of a handicapped child’s birth. If the unborn child escapes detection and upon birth does not meet “perfection” standards, there is a threat that even necessary medical treatment (food and drink) will be withdrawn from the innocent life. As seen in the Indiana Baby Doe case, withdrawal of treatment (infanticide) is a reality when a baby fails to meet parental expectations.

The surrogate mother is victimized. The hired mother, whose genetic contribution is 50 percent of the end product becomes a warehousing agent. Often the subliminal force behind a woman’s decision to “rent her womb” is attaining money to relieve financial stress. Truly, she is victimized. Her body is used. The practice of surrogate parenting has made human life a marketable product, and this should not be. Born and unborn children are precious and must be protected. In the surrogate arrangement, there are no guarantees that the defenseless child will be protected.

A 1979 March of Dimes survey showed that, in 97 percent of the cases where the amniocentesis test showed the unborn child was “imperfect,” abortion was chosen.

The potential for the destruction of children of surrogate parenting arrangements by abortion or infanticide impels Right to Life of Michigan to stand firm in opposition to surrogate parenting.
(Adopted 1985)