There Must be Limits

As a child I hated rules. I grumbled at having to be home at certain times. It was difficult to learn to raise my hand and wait to be called on before I could speak. I wanted freedom. I wanted to make my own choices and do things my own way.

Maturity generally reveals to us the value of rules and limits. Yet, many in the pursuit of new cures and solutions to life’s great hardships, often despise limits. They ask for the academic and scientific freedom to explore all avenues in their pursuits. After all, they would argue, good is to come of all of this.

In my latest blog entry, I take a decidedly theological look at why we need limits. No matter how convinced we are that we will not make the mistake or that we will not abuse the science, the reality is that we all have this thing called “original sin.” To proceed without acknowledging its presence is dangerous.

As we learn more about the intricate components of human life, we want to tamper with it. For the most part, the interest seems noble enough. We like to plan and anticipate every scientific thing that may go wrong. What is often overlooked is the sinful bias of the human nature. It infects even the noblest efforts with selfishness.

My plea is that we establish limits in all fields of research that acknowledge that given the opportunity to do wrong, in time we will take it. Sometimes it will be a consequence of an unrealized bias. Sometimes it is raw intent. Failing to recognize this tendency in all human life is to expose us to great danger. You can read more here.

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Pro-Life Tactics Stumble

I was surprised to read that Planned Parenthood (PP) performed more abortions rather than fewer abortions according to their recent report. How can this be? You had to be living under a rock not to realize that PP has been the object of a video exposé on selling aborted tissue to researchers since 2015. How does such a revelation increase the number of abortions?

In my latest blog entry, I tackle the issue of how even the most compelling tactics to protect life fail.

The gruesome dialog in these video revelations seems compelling enough to drive any “logical” person to a pro-life position. But, alas, it stumbles.

Admittedly, the tactic will work for some. Presenting the humanity of life developing in the womb can be an astounding experience when one views it for the first time. Most of us who have grown up understanding that there is life in the womb, never fully grasp what that means. Then we witness a childbirth or see the images of life in the womb. Wow! It is breathtaking.

Not everyone, however, has had that upbringing. For some, a baby-in-the-womb is still not the same as baby-in-the-arms. Today advocates for abortion admit that in the womb there is life. They acknowledge that in abortion a life dies. Nevertheless, they will argue for a woman’s right to end that life.

In my blog entry entitled, “Faith and Planned Parenthood,” I argue that faith is a distinguishing characteristic of those who are moved by talk of “life” in the womb. Granted, some Christians get abortions and in doing so violate the tenets of Scripture and their faith. What’s new? We all give in to moments of weakness or passion and do things contrary to God’s will.

Remaining steadfast in the faith, however, compels a Christian to acknowledge life in the womb and to care for that life as a blessing from God. You can check out the blog here.

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A Strike Against Cancer

With a cancer diagnosis the typical treatment options are surgical removal, laser/radiation, or chemotherapy. This Wednesday (8/30/17) the FDA added a fourth weapon to the arsenal – somatic gene therapy.

The therapy was developed to target acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) which afflicts about 3,000 children and young adults annually. This therapy uses the body’s own defense mechanisms to activate an attack on the cancer cells. The FDA press release reported that within 3 months of therapy the cancer had a remission rate of 83%, which is a pretty phenomenal success rate.

In my article on this advancement I talk about the different kinds of gene therapy there are and where the ethical concerns lie. For this advancement, it is hard not to be encouraged – not just for those afflicted with ALL but for the promise this new therapy holds for advancements in fighting other forms of cancer.

You can read my article here.

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Shortcuts Can Be Dangerous

In these busy times we often act not just in prudence but in desperation. In a mad rush to get things done we cut corners and take shortcuts. Shortcuts can be dangerous.

I am a big fan of research that cures disease and restores abilities to the disabled. What I am observing, however, are desperate actions no longer fixed on curing disease but eliminating the disease carriers. This is a shortcut that is just plain wrong.

In vitro fertilization opened up opportunities for the childless to possibly have children. In the pursuit of good, bad things start to happen. As researchers play with embryos in Petri dishes they begin to pick which one can live and which ones die. For human life in this smallest form, existence as embryos is precarious.

In this installment of my blog I report on Chinese fertility clinics that engage in a search-and-destroy effort. Using a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, they set out to eradicate disease by terminating human life in embryonic form.

This is a shortcut of the eugenics kind that redefines life for utilitarian purposes and opens a new level of subjectivity about lives worth living and lives which should be eliminated. Sadly this demonstrates again that we have failed to learn from the mistakes of the 20th century eugenics movement. You can read my comments here.

Posted in Bioethics, Down syndrome, Eugenics, IVF, Stem Cells | Leave a comment

Pregnancy the Old Fashion Way – With a Machine

In 1969 it was a one-hit-wonder called: “In the Year 2525.” In its dystopian view of the future artificial technology will replace the usefulness of humans. As relates to procreation one verse goes:

In the year 6565
You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife
You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

We already saw that coming 20+ years ago with Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) and IVF. Now the innovation is an artificial womb. Researchers from Australia and from Pennsylvania, apparently working independent of each other, have made announcements this year that great progress has been made in being able to continue fetal maturation in a machine or artificial wound.

Both sets of researchers hope developments along this line will help in caring for prematurely born infants who otherwise might not be able to live. What a wonderfully blessing that would be! It also raises new challenges about the way we talk, practice and legislate abortion. You can check out what I wrote about it here.

Also, if you are ready for a flashback experience, you can relive 1969 and listen to “In the Year 2525” on YouTube.

Posted in Abortion, Bioethics, Pregnancy & Children | Leave a comment

What Factors Lead to Death?

We often think biologically about such questions. Sometimes it is a breakdown within the human body; a heart that has given out or cancer that has overcome.

Sometimes it is an external event that happens to the body which brings about death; a car accident, gunshot wound or a fall off the ladder while cleaning the rain gutter.

A recent report from the American Psychological Association suggests that loneliness and social isolation may be a prime factor in bringing about early death – or at least a death earlier than it needed to be. This becomes a particularly pertinent issue for the elderly, widowed, and suicidal. Especially in a culture that sadly is accepting physician assisted suicide as a means of dying. Read more here.

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Iceland and Down Syndrome

What do you do if you can’t find a solution? If you are Iceland, you terminate it.

On August 14, 2017 CBS news did a sobering “On Assignment” segment about Iceland’s solution to Down syndrome. This was not a story about advanced gene therapy or the discovery of some other cure. This story was about a country that leverages abortion as the therapeutic solution to giving birth to a child with Down syndrome.

I was deeply saddened to see how Iceland addressed this matter and frightened as well.  In many ways Iceland is what we will become. Without God, without faith, without Scripture and without an objective standard of right and wrong Iceland is our future and we all should be very concerned.

I was impressed with the way CBS handled the story. It was uncharacteristically objective.

You can read my expanded comments with pertinent links by clicking here.

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A Closer Look

I weary of the harsh rhetoric about climate change and the environment. I have long felt that both sides of the issue make their case using healthy doses of exaggeration and hyperbole to incite fear and attract attention.

That being said I must admit my concerns about environmental impacts on humans have grown in the last couple of years. For a while now I have wondered where the new crop of child allergies have come from. More recently I have been reading scholarly papers raising concerns over increased rates of infertility and the possible negative effects the environment may be having on the ability for human reproduction.

Click here to read about the shocking drop (over 50%) in human sperm count since 1973. I think the matter is worth a closer look.

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Who Should Take Life?

Daily I receive a report about efforts to legalize assisted suicide in the United States and around the world. As I think about how the American Medical Association will be taking up the issue soon it seemed ironic that the healing profession might contemplate favoring also being the killing profession.

In this Thursday’s installment I raise the question of who should do the killing as assisted suicide becomes more accepted. You can read it here.

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Working with Human DNA

In the last week of July researchers announced that in the United States they had achieved success with “editing” human DNA by using CRISPR technology on a human embryo. For some of you this is “way out there” science. In my article on this topic I attempt to explain it as simply as I can while also providing you links to other explanations.

Such DNA manipulation on human embryos raises many serious ethical concerns which some in the CRISPR field seem unwillingly to consider. I raise those issues and invite you to read my article on this topic by clicking here.

Posted in Bioethics, Eugenics, Health, IVF, Stem Cells | Leave a comment