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Archive for August, 2016

mad scientist warningIn a disturbing but not unpredicted development, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last Thursday announced its support for expanded tax-funding of experiments in which human genetic material is combined with animals.

NIH will take public comment on the matter until Sept. 4 but—sadly– the agency has never changed directions based on negative public input.

For decades, researchers have engaged in ethically-noncontroversial mixing of human and animal cells such as growing human cancer tumors in mice to study disease processes and evaluate treatment strategies.  Also ethically-noncontroversial are therapies that utilize animal tissue, for example, using a pig’s heart valve for human heart repair, or other use of mammalian tissue in humans.

Stem cell research, however, is fundamentally different. “Pluripotent” stem cells can turn into any cell in the body, and when injected into animal embryos (as the new NIH proposals would allow) scientists don’t know what kind of new species will result. (See KFL post on hybrid creation controversy.)

UC-Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, told the New York Times,

we lack an understanding of at what point humanization of an animal brain could lead to more humanlike thought or consciousness.”

David Prentice, board member of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center in Kansas raised concerns about the results of injecting stem cells into animal embryos:

 “[N]ew forms of life—human-animal hybrids—could then be in view, or even the development of an animal with a largely human or fully human brain. NIH’s answer to objections like these seems to be to preclude such animals from breeding (this would likely not be 100 percent effective—just ask anyone who has run an animal facility)…If human-animal chimeras are allowed to be intentionally created for research, the door is also open to reproductive experiments, creating part-human organisms or designer animals to, say, carry out dangerous or degrading tasks human beings do not want to perform. Or donate organs these creations sacrifice for their human betters.”pigmanface

Research into creating animal–human hybrids is ongoing with private funding. Last September, NIH looked around at what was developing there and issued a moratorium on government funding of such projects. But after holding a November 2015 workshop, apparently all questions of acting responsibly have been abandoned and NIH is ready to plunge into this ‘brave new world’ of interspecies experiments.

Bioethics author Wesley J. Smith is not optimistic  about these developments:

“If we had a science sector that believed in the intrinsic dignity of human life, we could explore these potentially beneficent avenues of biotechnology with little concern that scientists would begin to blur vital distinctions or cross crucial ethical lines dividing human beings from fauna. Alas, we don’t live in that milieu and we can’t trust our regulatory bodies–which can be more controlled by the sectors they are supposed to regulate than the other way around–to maintain strict boundaries.”

DESTRUCTION OF EMBRYOS
Beyond the moral quagmire of mixing species, this kind of experimentation would destroy many human embryos. Read our KFL fact sheet about animal-human hybrids (also called chimeras), which includes reasons why pro-lifers should be opposed:

  1. The research on these procedures would destroy many human embryos. No matter what we might learn from watching cells grow in the conditions created by a chimera, the fact remains that researchers would be killing human embryos to get their cells.
  2. If the purposeful creation of human-animal chimeras is allowed for research purposes, it opens the door to abuse of the technique for reproduction, as well as creation of part-human organisms as bizarre designer humans or animals.
  3. It could produce an animal that produces human sperm or eggs.
  4. It could produce an animal with a human brain.

NIH should be halting these ethically-unmoored manipulations of the human-animal boundary. Instead, this agency is moving to sanction them and promote them with our tax dollars.

God help us.

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elections matterTurnout in the Kansas primaries was extremely low and the results rested heavily on economic issues, as AP writer John Hanna reported:

“The voting occurred against the backdrop not only of the state’s fiscal woes but ongoing legal and political disputes over funding for public schools. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since the GOP-dominated Legislature slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy.”

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran won his primary with 79% support, and Congressman Kevin Yoder won his 3rd District primary with 64%. Both have a 100% pro-life voting record.

Huelskamp loss for pro-lifers

KFL mourns Huelskamp primary  loss

However, embattled conservative and pro-life champion, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, lost in a fierce primary that saw multi-million dollars’ worth of ads from non-Kansas special interest groups. Challenger Roger Marshall, an Ob-Gyn doctor who describes himself as pro-life, won the GOP 1st district spot with 57% of the vote.

At the statehouse, KFL-endorsed candidates stacked up 18 wins in the House and 6 in the Senate, with 17 losses in the House and 10 in the Senate. However– and notably–in some races, the winners who had not earned KFL endorsement have stated they are pro-life.

HOUSE RESULTS
Ten reliable pro-life reps won their primaries yesterday along with eight KFL-endorsed challengers. A key issue for KFL endorsement has been the candidate’s willingness to allow the public a vote to improve judicial selection for the state Supreme Court. Otherwise, Kansas’ pro-life laws are jeopardized by rulings from extremist judges selected without public accountability.judicial selection

Pro-lifers were dismayed to learn of the defeat of eight great state representatives: Rob Bruchman, Will Carpenter, Brett Hildabrand, Jerry Lunn, Kasha Kelley, Charles Macheers, Craig McPherson, and Connie O’Brien. Three of those races had the narrowest of margins and may be recounted.

KFL-endorsed primary challengers lost in House districts 21, 45, 52, 60, 64, 68, 89, 104 and 115.

SENATE RESULTS
Headed into November Senate elections are pro-life incumbents Don Kerchen, Ty Masterson, and Mike Peterson along with KFL-endorsed former state reps Bud Estes and Gene Sullentrop.

Five great pro-life state Senators retired in May: Senators Steve Abrams, Les Donovan, Mitch Holmes, Jeff King and Michael O’Donnell. Primary results indicate voters in four districts (15, 25, 27 and 32), will have pro-life candidates to replace them, but not so in district 33.

Six solidly pro-life incumbent state senators disappointingly lost their primaries yesterday: Tom Arpke, Terry Bruce, Forrest Knox, Jeff Melcher, Larry Powell and Greg Smith. Four districts will be left without pro-life representation:  districts 11, 14, 21, and 24.

Dismemberment schmidt postcard, editTwo of the 6 winning Senate challengers had told the public they were pro-life. In district 34, Ed Berger was the victor. In the campaign, Berger claimed he was pro-life because he was Catholic, but refused to fill out the KFL survey. In district 39, challenger John Doll, a former Democrat who lost a statewide office race before winning a seat as a GOP state rep, has a mixed voting record on the life issues.

In a very bitter result for pro-lifers, a GOP Topeka district remains in the hands of the sole GOP Senator to vote against a ban on dismemberment abortions, Sen. Vicki Schmidt. The bill was signed into law in 2015, but awaits the review of the state Supreme Court—which appears to be delaying their ruling until after the November elections in which 5 of the 7 justices are up for retention.

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