Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI's Encyclical "Love in Truth"

28. One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. It is an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent times, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty66 and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways. Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion. In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress. Some non-governmental Organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned. Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures. Further grounds for concern are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition. Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.67 The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.

44. The notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family.110 To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate. Due attention must obviously be given to responsible procreation, which among other things has a positive contribution to make to integral human development. The Church, in her concern for man's authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the "risk" of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality,111 as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities. Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates; this has become a crucial problem for highly affluent societies. The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called "replacement level", also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, and narrows the "brain pool" upon which nations can draw for their needs. Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness. It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society,112 and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character. In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society. In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp. Here we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy. In this type of culture, the conscience is simply invited to take note of technological possibilities. Yet we must not underestimate the disturbing scenarios that threaten our future, or the powerful new instruments that the "culture of death" has at its disposal. To the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion we may well have to add in the future - indeed it is already surreptiously present - the systematic eugenic programming of births. At the other end of the spectrum, a pro-euthanasia mindset is making inroads as an equally damaging assertion of control over life that under certain circumstances is deemed no longer worth living. Underlying these scenarios are cultural viewpoints that deny human dignity. These practices in turn foster a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life. Who could measure the negative effects of this kind of mentality for development? How can we be surprised by the indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human? What is astonishing is the arbitrary and selective determination of what to put forward today as worthy of respect. Insignificant matters are considered shocking, yet unprecedented injustices seem to be widely tolerated. While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human. God reveals man to himself; reason and faith work hand in hand to demonstrate to us what is good, provided we want to see it; the natural law, in which creative Reason shines forth, reveals our greatness, but also our wretchedness insofar as we fail to recognize the call to moral truth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Study: Private Religious School Students More Likely to Have Abortion Than Public

by Steven EditorJune 1, 2009

Washington, DC ( -- A new study finds that women students at private, religious schools are not less likely than their counterparts at public schools to have an abortion. In fact, sociologist Amy Adamczyk published an article in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior saying they are more likely.
Adamczyk, an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, conducted the study.
While previous research has investigated the link between religion and abortion attitudes, fewer studies have explored religion's impact on abortion behavior.
"This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy," she said.
The researcher noted that shame in finding out that a religious school student is pregnant could result in a higher abortion rate.
"Religious school attendance is not necessarily indicative of conservative religious beliefs because students attend these schools for a variety of reasons," Adamczyk said. "These schools tend to generate high levels of commitment and strong social ties among their students and families, so abortion rates could be higher due to the potential for increased feelings of shame related to an extramarital birth."
Despite Adamczyk's finding that rates of reported abortions were higher for young women educated at private religious schools, the type of religious school was not a factor: Catholic schools had similar rates as other religious schools.
Results revealed no significant link between a young woman's reported decision to have an abortion and her personal religiosity, as defined by her religious involvement, frequency of prayer and perception of religion's importance.
Despite the absence of a link between personal religious devotion and abortion, religious affiliation did have some important influence. Adamczyk found that conservative Protestants were the least likely to report having an abortion, less likely than mainline Protestants, Catholics and women with non-Christian religious affiliations.
Regarding the impact of the religious involvement of a woman's peers, Adamczyk found no significant influence. However, Adamczyk did find that women who attended school with conservative Protestants were more likely to decide to keep their baby if pregnant in their 20s than during their teen years.
"The values of conservative Protestant classmates seem to have an abortion limiting effect on women in their 20s, but not in their teens, presumably because the educational and economic costs of motherhood are reduced as young women grow older," Adamczyk said.
Adamczyk examined how personal religious involvement, schoolmate religious involvement and school type influenced the pregnancy decisions of a sample of 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced women age 26 and younger from 125 different schools. The women ranged in age from 14 to 26 at the time they discovered they were pregnant.
Twenty-five percent of women in the sample reported having an abortion, which Adamczyk considers lower than the likely actual number.
Data for this study came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a three-wave school-based study of the health-related behaviors of students in grades 7 to 12 at the time of the first wave. Adamczyk analyzed data from the first and third waves of Add Health, the first wave taking place from 1994 to 1995 and the third wave being completed between 2001 and 2002.
The article is "Understanding the Effects of Personal and School Religiosity on the Decision to Abort a Premarital Pregnancy."
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is a quarterly journal of the American Sociological Association.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sweden Rules "Gender-based" Abortions Legal

pic from

The Local (Sweden's News in English)
May 12, 2009

Swedish health authorities have ruled that gender-based abortion is not illegal according to current law and can not therefore be stopped, according to a report by Sveriges Television.

Stopping meds made Swedish woman's 'dementia' disappear (20 May 09)
Repeat heart attack risk declines in Sweden: study (19 May 09)
Swedish surgeon forgets swabs in sewn up mum (10 May 09)
The Local reported in February that a woman from Eskilstuna in southern Sweden had twice had abortions after finding out the gender of the child.

The woman, who already had two daughters, requested an amniocentesis in order to allay concerns about possible chromosome abnormalities. At the same time, she also asked to know the foetus's gender.

Doctors at Mälaren Hospital expressed concern and asked Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to draw up guidelines on how to handle requests in the future in which they "feel pressured to examine the foetus’s gender" without having a medically compelling reason to do so.

The board has now responded that such requests and thus abortions can not be refused and that it is not possible to deny a woman an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy, even if the foetus's gender is the basis for the request.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pew Research Center: Support of Abortion declined in last 8 months

April 30, 2009
Pew Research Center
Public Takes Conservative Turn on Gun Control, Abortion

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 31-April 21 among 1,521 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, also finds public opinion about abortion more closely divided than it has been in several years. Currently, 46% say abortion should be legal in most cases (28%) or all cases (18%); 44% believe that abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%). Since the mid-1990s, majorities have consistently favored legal abortion, with the exception of an August 2001 survey by ABC News/Washington Post.

The proportion saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases has declined to 46% from 54% last August. The decline in support for legal abortion has come entirely in the share saying abortion should be legal in most cases (from 37% to 28%); 18% say abortion should be legal in all cases, which is virtually unchanged from last August (17%). Currently, 44% say abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%), up slightly since last August (41%).

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 29 Presidential Press Conference

Ed Henry, CNN Senior White House Correspondent: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks you’re going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame and, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion. As a candidate you vowed that one of the very first things you wanted to do was sign the freedom of choice act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state, and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was “above my pay grade.” Now that you’ve been President for a hundred days, obviously your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator (laughter) — do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the freedom of choice act so you can sign it?

President Obama: You know, my view on abortion I think has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue. I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they — if they suggest — and I don’t want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with, and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

The reason I’m pro-choice is because I don’t think women take that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day, and I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a President of the United States — in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy. So that’s been my consistent position.

The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again. And so I’ve got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

Now, the freedom of choice act is not my highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose, but I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that’s where I’m going to focus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mona Lisa Project and Planned Parenthood

2007 ThirdWay Survey on Abortion

Third Way
The Feldman Group INC.
National Abortion Survey
July 16, 2007
Sample size: 1003
72% believe the decision whether or not to have an abortion should be left up to a woman, her family, and her doctor.

69% believe abortion is taking a human life.

20% believe abortion legal in all cases

12% believe abortion should be against the law in all circumstances.

40% consider themselves to be pro-choice

39% consider themselves to be pro-life

18% do not consider themselves pro-choice or pro-life

46% consider abortion always morally wrong

22% consider abortion to be sometimes morally wrong

29% do not consider abortion a moral issue

The most shocking results in this survey for me were:

72% believe abortion decisions should be left up to the woman

at the same time

69% believe abortion is taking a human life

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Irony in Obama's Speech

Quote from Obama's Speech given at the 2009 National Holocaust Remembrance Commemoration at the US Capitol.

"It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In Awe of Sanger

Abortion permanently a crime in the Dominican Republic, pro-life victory comes with a vote of 167 to 32

Mason, Keith (2009). Abortion permanently a crime in the Dominican Republic, pro-life victory comes with a vote of 167 to 32. Retrieved 4/25/09 from:

Abortion permanently a crime in the Dominican Republic, pro-life victory comes with a vote of 167 to 32.
Submitted by Keith on Wed, 04/22/2009 - 15:43
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic In response to recent efforts by international pro-abortion groups seeking to decriminalize abortion in the Dominican Republic,. legislators permanently enshrined the right to life for pre-born humans by rewriting the Constitution of the Dominican Republic with the words "the right to life is inviolable from conception until death."

The vote of 167 to 32 was held yesterday afternoon and served as a major victory to those working to protect all human life.

A pro-life coalition recently traveled to the Santo Domingo to raise awareness about abortion during the hearings of this bill. The young people in this coalition of organizations included Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism, Live Action San Jose, and Personhood USA.

The group joined with local missionary Dr Gene Antonio to distribute over 50,000 pieces of literature about abortion from Human Life Alliance.

"A true respect for human life is protecting it from the beginning, the dominican republic is ahead of america in building a society where all human life is truly respected." said Ignacio Reyes Director of Live Action San Jose

The group made a major impact by showing a graphic video of an actual abortion procedure on dozens of national television programs which broadcast to millions of Dominicans.

"We are thrilled that the protection of human life from the moment of conception is now established into the constitution in-spite of fierce international pressure to legalize abortion," stated Dr. Gene Antonio, Pro-life Missionary in the Dominican Republic. He continued "This overwhelming victory serves as an example to the other Latin countries fighting to protect life, that we can win and we must win because the lives of little people are at stake."

"As we continue to fight for the personhood rights of the Pre-born in America, we celebrate and applaud the protection of Life in the Dominican Republic. The people on the small Caribbean island understand that all life is precious and should be protected! We pray that America catches on soon" said Keith Mason of Personhood USA

Sunday, March 22, 2009

USAID accused of human rights abuse for burying Harvard prof’s abstinence research

USAID accused of human rights abuse for burying Harvard prof’s abstinence research
Posted on Feb 15, 2005 by Erin Curry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The U.S. Agency for International Development has dismissed a report by a Harvard professor which says abstinence is the method that has worked best in dramatically reducing the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, according to Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine. USAID instead tapped a nationally known condom advocate to conduct another study that shed a more favorable light on the role of condoms in Uganda's success.For the first of a two-part series on the American government's discrimination against abstinence and faith-based programs in distributing AIDS prevention funds overseas, Citizen interviewed Edward C. Green, an anthropologist at Harvard University and the lead author of a study financed by USAID that found abstinence to be more effective than condoms in reducing the spread of AIDS in Uganda.At issue is a strategy pushed by President Bush called "ABC" -- an acronym for Abstinence, Being faithful in marriage and Condoms only for high-risk populations. Bush allotted $15 billion in taxpayer funds to promote the strategy as a way of preventing AIDS in Third World countries.Green's study found that faithfulness and abstinence campaigns, in that order, played the most significant role in the dramatic reduction of AIDS in Uganda, Citizen said in its March issue. Green discovered that by 1995, 95 percent of Ugandans ages 15 to 49 were practicing abstinence or monogamy while just 6 percent of the population was using condoms."It's a very indicting statement about the effectiveness of condoms," Green told Citizen. "You cannot show that more condoms have led to less AIDS in Africa."But when Green submitted his study to USAID in early 2003, the government agency refused to publish his findings and instead hired Douglas Kirby, a senior researcher for one of the nation's largest condom-promoting sex education groups, to conduct another study on AIDS prevention in Uganda, Citizen said. Kirby turned in his report in late 2004, saying condoms played a greater role in Uganda's AIDS decline than faithfulness or abstinence."Why does it matter whether an ABC supporter or a condom advocate writes USAID's report?" Citizen asked. "Because USAID studies affect which type of AIDS prevention efforts receive American funding."In the past, condom promoters have received the largest portion of American taxpayer dollars in curbing AIDS overseas while abstinence promoters have received little funding. If USAID ignores studies that indicate more money should be spent on abstinence campaigns, the trend likely will remain the same. Citizen, along with Green, contends that moral messages could save millions of lives in the battle against AIDS if only USAID would comply.And lest anyone write off Green as previously biased toward abstinence before he conducted the study, he pointed out to Citizen that he is a second-generation population control liberal. He doesn't attend church and considers himself a secularist, but he strives to be an objective researcher who will support whatever conclusion his studies produce."I look at the data and I see that what might be called a more liberal response to AIDS -- more and more millions or billions of condoms -- has simply not worked, especially in parts of the world with the highest infection rate, Africa and the Caribbean," Green told Citizen. "I went where the evidence led me and the evidence led me to ABC, with strong emphasis on A and B for the general population."Citizen laid out further examples of USAID's tendency to show favor to obvious condom advocates, including the hiring of one of the nation's leading condom distributors to execute AIDS study contracts.Fear of a right-wing political agenda creeping into AIDS prevention keeps USAID and other organizations from fairly assessing the importance of abstinence, one expert told Citizen."A lot of people in the field think this whole ABC thing is some sort of smokescreen for the religious right that's just trying to stop them from handing out condoms," said Norman Hearst, a medical doctor and University of California professor who studied AIDS in San Francisco.But Rand Stoneburner, an epidemiologist who has studied the pattern of AIDS during the past 20 years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Citizen that millions of lives are at stake while USAID squabbles over whether a religious agenda is being pushed."Data that could save lives is being ignored -- at the cost of millions of lives," he said. "That's a great abuse of human rights because you would have saved 3 to 5 million lives if the ABC data was recognized and used years earlier."

Harvard Researcher agrees with Pope on condoms in Africa

CNA (2009). Harvard Researcher agrees with Pope on condoms in Africa. Catholic News Agency. Retrieved March 22, 2009 from:

Cambridge, Mass., Mar 21, 2009 / 10:11 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict’s recent brief remark against condoms has caused an uproar in the press, but several prominent scientists dedicated to preventing AIDS are defending the Pope, saying he was correct in his analysis. In an interview with CNA, Dr. Edward Green explained that although condoms should work, in theory, they may be “exacerbating the problem” in Africa.

Benedict XVI’s Tuesday comments on condoms were made as part of his explanation of the Church’s two prong approach to fighting AIDS. At one point in his response the Pontiff stressed that AIDS cannot be overcome by advertising slogans and distributing condoms and argued that they “worsen the problem.” The media responded with an avalanche of over 4,000 articles on the subject, calling Benedict a “threat to public health,” and saying that the Catholic Church should “enter the 21st century.”

Senior Harvard Research Scientist for AIDS Prevention, Dr. Edward Green, who is the author of five books, including “Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning from Successes in Developing Countries” discussed his support for Pope Benedict XVI’s comments with CNA.
According to Dr. Green, science is finding that the media is actually on the wrong side of the issue. In fact, Green says that not only do condoms not work, but that they may be “exacerbating the problem” in Africa.

“Theoretically, condoms ought to work,” he explained to CNA, “and theoretically, some condom use ought to be better than no condom use, but that’s theoretically.”

Condom proponents often cite the lack of condom education as the main culprit for higher AIDS rates in Africa but Green disagrees.

After spending 25 years promoting condoms for family planning purposes in Africa, he insists that he’s quite familiar with condom promotion. Yet, he claims that “anyone who worked in family planning knew that if you needed to prevent a pregnancy, say the woman will die, you don’t recommend a condom.”

Green recalls that when the AIDS epidemic hit Africa, the “Industry” began using AIDS as a “dual purpose” marketing strategy to get more funding for condom distribution. This, he claims, effectively took “something that was a 2nd or 3rd grade device for avoiding unwanted pregnancies” and turned it into the “best weapon we [had] against AIDS.”

The accepted wisdom in the scientific community, explained Green, is that condoms lower the HIV infection rate, but after numerous studies, researchers have found the opposite to be true. “We just cannot find an association between more condom use and lower HIV reduction rates” in Africa.

Dr. Green found that part of the elusive reason is a phenomenon known as risk compensation or behavioral disinhibition.

“[Risk compensation] is the idea that if somebody is using a certain technology to reduce risk, a phenomenon actually occurs where people are willing to take on greater risk.” The idea can be related to someone that puts on sun block and is willing to stay out in the sun longer because they have added protection. In this case, however, the greater risk is sexual. Because people are willing take on more risk, they may “disproportionally erase” the benefits of condom use, Green said.

Another factor that contributes to ineffective condom use in Africa, is the phenomenon where condoms may be effective on an “individual level,” but not on a “population level.” Green’s research found that “condoms have been effective” in HIV concentrated areas where high risk activities are already being conducted, such as brothels in countries like Thailand.
Claiming to be a liberal himself, Green asserts that promoting Western “liberal ideology” where, “most Africans are conservative when it comes to sexual behavior,” is quite offensive to them. Citing his new book, “Indigenous Theories and Contagious Disease,” Green described Africans as “very religious by global standards” who are offended by “trucks going around where people are dancing to ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, tossing out condoms to teenagers and the children of the village.”
Green also noted that there is an ideology called “harm reduction” that is being pushed by many organizations trying to prevent AIDS. The ideology believes that “you can’t change the underlying behavior, that you can’t get people to be faithful, especially Africans,” the HIV specialist explained.

One country, Uganda, recognized these issues and said, “Listen, if you have multiple sex partners, you are going to get AIDS.” What worked in Uganda, a country that has seen a decline by as much as 2/3 in AIDS infections, was that officials realized that even aside from religious and cultural reasons, “no one likes condoms.” Instead of waiting for “American and European advisors to arrive,” Ugandan officials reacted and developed a program that fit their culture; their main message being “stick to one partner or love faithfully.”

However, in 2004, Uganda’s AIDS infection rates began to increase once again, due to an influx of condoms and Western “advice”, Green recalled. Western donors also came to Uganda and said behavioral change doesn’t work and that, “most infections nowadays are among married people.” Green said these claims are “misleading,” pointing out that “married people always have lower HIV infection rates than single or divorced people of the same age group.”

Green’s new book, “AIDS and Ideology,” to be completed in the next few months, will describe the industry in Africa that is “drawing billions of dollars a year promoting condoms, testing, drugs, and treatment of AIDS” and is clearly resistant to the idea that behavioral change is the solution.

Yet the two countries that have the highest infection rate of AIDS in the world, Botswana and Swaziland, have recently launched campaigns to promote fidelity and monogamy, the Harvard researcher said. These countries “have learned the hard way” about the failure of condoms in preventing AIDS, he said, noting that “Botswana has probably had more condom promotion” than any other county on a per capita basis. Green said he had no problem “having condoms as a backup to fidelity-based programs.”

According to Green, the Catholic Church should continue to “do what it is already doing,” avoid “arguing about the diameter of viruses” and cite scientific evidence in connection with scripture and moral theology.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Swiss Women Abandoning the Pill Due to Adverse Health Effects

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

PARIS, February 26, 2009 ( - The use of the contraceptive pill is plummeting among younger women, in response to growing awareness of its destructive health effects, reports a French bioethics site.According to the site "Genetique," the use of "the pill" among women aged 15 to 24 years old dropped from 43% in 2003 to 26% in 2007. The rate of childbirth among the same group increased at the same time. "The principal reason for this decrease is the attention paid by women to their health," says Genetique. "It is now proven that the pill suppresses libido and causes weight gain. The fear of cancer and sterility are equally responsible."According to numerous studies on the effects of the contraceptive pill, its use is also linked to increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.Related LifeSiteNews coverage:

New Study Shows Contraceptive Pill Increases Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke

Massive Study Finds the Pill Significantly Increases Cancer Risk if Used more than Eight Years

Birth Control Pill Linked to Hardening of the Arteries

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fast For Obama For Life

Fast For Obama For Life

Mission Statement (from their webpage):

The Mission of

I am a pro-life woman who refuses to accept that Barack Obama, the most inspiring American leader of my lifetime, will not extend his promise of hope and change to the most fundamental civil rights issue of our time: the protection of life before birth.

It's hard to believe that a devoted father, Harvard-educated scholar, and civil-rights activist could ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence that abortion ends a human life. Hard to believe that his position would not, at least, show some nuance...and thus, some hope for protecting the right to life of the most vulnerable among us.

Yet President Obama's own campaign promises place him squarely as the most pro-abortion president in our history. Yes, pro-abortion, not just pro-choice. Although a majority of Americans consistently favor some limits on the taking of unborn human life, Obama has stated his support for abolishing virtually all such protections, even those prohibiting procedures that amount to infanticide.

It just doesn't square with the brilliant and compassionate man we elected President last November. I believe that Barack Obama, can be moved to realize that women deserve better than abortion...that enhanced access to health care, day care, and support services (including adoption) is a better "choice" than a life-destroying procedure, in almost every case...and that the unborn are indisputably members of our human family and heirs to our American dream. How can this happen?

Prayer and fasting.

Yes, it's old-school. No protest signs, PACs, or petitions. But hey, although my pro-life convictions are more ethical than religious, I'm also a Catholic...and it's Lent...and every time I feel like eating beyond my self-imposed limits, I plan to beseech my God to move the heart of our President.

I invite you to join me. Click on the guestbook below. You will not be enrolled in any pro-life movement stuff; you don't even have to leave your e-mail address. And you are welcome regardless of your gender, politics, sexual orientation, age, race, or religion (or lack of it). I'd just love to know I'm not alone in hope, prayer, and, um, some hunger.

President Obama, we speak on behalf of those with no voice. Please work to recognize and protect the rights of women and the unborn; most urgently, please reconsider your support for the "Freedom of Choice Act" and its radical pro-abortion agenda. Inspire us by opening your heart and mind. Please listen to, and join, America's ongoing conversation about human rights at the most crucial juncture of all: the beginning of life itself.

And forgive us if we're a little testy; it must be the low blood sugar.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Budget concerns force states to reconsider the death penalty

Grinberg, E. (2 March 2009). Budget concerns force states to reconsider the death penalty. Retrieved 2 March 2009 from:

Brian Sanderholm thinks Justin Thurber deserves to die for raping and killing his 19-year-old daughter.

"I believe in an eye for an eye. If you do the crime, you need to have justice," he said. "In the end, it's up to the jury, but all that matters is that he can't hurt anyone again."

But amid a time of economic turmoil some legislators in Kansas and elsewhere say the price of justice is too high. They have introduced legislation to take the death penalty off the books over financial concerns.

Jodi Sanderholm was last seen alive on January 5, 2007, at dance practice at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, where she was a student and member of the Cowley College Tigerettes Danceline. Her bruised and battered body was found four days later in a pile of brush, bearing signs of a violent and prolonged death that prosecutors likened to torture.

A jury sentenced Thurber to death on February 18. A Kansas court will decide whether to uphold the jury's verdict in a hearing scheduled for March 20.

If Kansas Senate Bill 208 passes as written, it won't take effect until July 1, so it is unlikely to affect Thurber's sentence. But future savings could be substantial.

"Because of the downturn in the national economy, we are facing one of the largest budget deficits in our history," state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, said in an opinion piece posted on Friday. "What is certain is we are all going to have to look at new and creative ways to fund state and community programs and services."

The state would save more than $500,000 per case by not seeking the death penalty, McGinn wrote, money that could be used for "prevention programs, community corrections and other programs to decrease future crimes against society."

Fiscal concerns are just a part of McGinn's argument. She has also cited the disproportionate rate of minorities that are sentenced to death. Kansas reintroduced the death penalty in 1994 but has not executed a condemned inmate since 1965.

Anti-death-penalty groups say longer jury selection, extra expert witnesses, jury consultants and an extended penalty phase tend to make death penalty trials more costly than non-death-penalty cases. Extra safeguards in place to ensure a fair verdict, including additional investigators and defense attorneys certified to handle death cases, who spend more time researching and litigating the case, also drive up costs. See a chart comparing the costs of two murder trials »

A 2008 study by the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy research group based in Maryland, found that an average capital murder trial in the state resulting in a death sentence costs about $3 million, or $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty is not sought.

A similar 2008 study by the ACLU in Northern California found that a death- penalty trial costs about $1.1 million more than a non-death-penalty trial in California.

McGinn's bill faces opposition from various sides, including victims' rights groups and the state's top prosecutor, who says there are no hard numbers related to the cost of the death penalty.

New Mexico, which also has a bill before the Legislature to abolish the death penalty, has already seen a case where costs dictated the outcome. See which states have bills to get rid of the death penalty »

Last year, the New Mexico attorney general's office agreed to drop the death penalty for two inmates involved in the stabbing death of a guard, Ralph Garcia, during a 1999 riot at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility.

The change came after the state Legislature failed to provide additional funding for defense attorneys contracted to handle the case by the public defender's office.

In court documents filed at the time, Attorney General Gary King said his office could not "in good faith under these circumstances" pursue the death penalty against Robert Young and Reis Lopez.

Even Garcia's wife lent her voice to the case, writing a letter to then-Assistant Attorney General Michael Fox explaining why she did not support the death penalty.

"I would rather see the death penalty be abolished and reparation be made to the victims, wives or husbands and to their children. I know how hard it is to go look for a job when my job was staying home and taking care of the home and kids and my husband was the breadwinner," Rachel Garcia wrote in a letter dated February 28, 2005.

"My husband would [have] wanted something like this as much as I do because he so much loved his family."

Her sentiments became part a bill to abolish the death penalty that was introduced in 2007 and died on the Senate floor in New Mexico. Its supporters are hopeful it has a better chance this year -- so far, it has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

"I think it helps the debate from being less emotional than it has the potential to be," Democratic Rep. Gail Chasey said. "People will say we can't put a price on justice, but in fact, we do put a price on justice when we are not able to give our district attorneys, our police departments, our attorney general the funding they need."

In Colorado, House Bill 1274 proposes to put the anticipated savings from abolishing the death penalty toward the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's cold case homicide team.

The state has about 1,430 unsolved homicides dating back to 1970, according to Howard Morton, founder of the Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, an advocacy group pushing for the bill.

For Morton, whose son, Guy, disappeared in 1975, the issue goes beyond the misuse of tax dollars. Guy was considered a missing person for 12 years until forensic examination revealed that his remains had been misidentified. His killer was never found.

"As bad as it is to think that our son's killer is still on the streets or in our neighborhoods, there's nothing worse than feeling like he's been forgotten, just another file in a basement," he said. "Once you've had a loved one murdered, there can be no closure, but there can be resolution, the feeling like, oh well, at least justice was done."

Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado, among the states where legislators are seeking to get rid of the death penalty, have carried out few or no executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. On the other hand, Texas, Georgia and Virginia, which consistently lead the nation in executions each year, show no signs of changing course.

Earlier this month, Virginia's House voted to expand capital punishment to include those who assist in a murder, and those who kill an auxiliary police officer or on-duty fire marshal.

A bill to abolish the death penalty is also before the Texas legislature, but Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos intends to proceed with 194 pending death penalty cases she has on the books.

"We will spare no expense. We will go after them. Justice has no price tag," Lykos said. "We want to be as cost-effective as possible without compromising the administration of justice and public safety."

Nonetheless, budget concerns in those states still hamper some efforts to seek the death penalty.

In Georgia, where Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered all government agencies to trim their budgets by 6 percent, Jamie Ryan Weis, on trial for murder, has been sitting in a jail without a lawyer for more than a year.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council appointed two private attorneys in 2006 to represent Weis, who is charged with the murder of Catherine King. They were pulled from the case a year later because of a lack of funds, court documents indicate, and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council has yet to replace them.

"The state basically says we want to have the death penalty and we don't want to pay for it. It's like the state says it's going to the grocery store to buy the most expensive food and it's not going to pay for it," said attorney Don Samuel, one of three attorneys attempting to obtain a lawyer for Weis.

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said he plans to seek the death penalty against Weis, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs.

"I think that if you start deciding it's too expensive to pursue the death penalty, then you're encouraging the defense to make it too expensive, and our duty to the public is too great to succumb to that," Ballard said.

Back in Kansas, Brian Sanderholm says the state has a duty to victims, too. He opposes efforts to abolish the death penalty because he says families should be able to weigh in on an appropriate punishment, and juries should render the final outcome.

In fact, if Thurber had admitted sooner to having killed his daughter, the father says he would have accepted a life sentence for him.

But by the time Thurber decided to admit his role and seek a plea deal with prosecutors, his family had already been through too much, Sanderholm says.

"It was too late," Sanderholm said. "We'd struggled so much, but after struggling for two years, we decided we're just going to go on with it."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mother "Pressured" to Terminate Pregnancy of Trisomy 18 Child at Catholic Hospital

Westen, J.H. (25 Feb. 2009). Mother "Pressured" to Terminate Pregnancy of Trisomy 18 Child at Catholic Hospital. From: on Feb. 25, 2009.

LONDON, Ontario, February, 25, 2009 ( - In the wake of the National Post article whitewashing the practice of 'early induction' of babies with lethal fetal anomalies at the Catholic hospital in London Ontario, a mother who was offered the procedure is now willing publicly to tell her story. Nikki Cooke says she hoped that when the original story on the procedures taking place at St. Joseph's hospital was published, what she calls "eugenic abortions" would finally come to an end. (see the story:

She explained to London Bishop Ronald Fabbro in a chance meeting on January 20, 2009 that she was pressured to terminate her pregnancy by 5 doctors at the Catholic hospital and by the hospital ethicist Fr. Michael Prieur, despite the fact that neither her life nor health were in danger. Eight days later Cooke wrote a lengthy letter to the bishop with a complete description of the circumstances of her experiences at the hospital.

The National Post article was published a full month after that conversation on February 20. In that article Fr. Prieur alleges that the procedure - early induction on babies with lethal fetal anomaly - is only undertaken when the health or life of the mother is at risk and Bishop Fabbro, in both a photo and statement for the article, appears to indicate full support for his chief ethicist. (see coverage: )

Nikki Cooke and her husband Brian spoke with about their ordeal, which began in December 1996. A routine ultrasound at 12 weeks detected problems with their unborn child. Further tests revealed that the child had Trisomy 18, which a team of five doctors from the hospital informed the couple is a deadly anomaly incompatible with life.

"Each of the five doctors on the team at St. Joseph's Hospital said, now that our baby has a deadly anomaly they would not operate on the baby to correct defects and their recommendation was to terminate (the pregnancy)," Mrs. Cooke said.

"We were pressured to have an early induction by the team of doctors on the Committee at St. Joseph's Hospital and if we did not choose this option and the baby was born alive they said, 'We will not resuscitate your baby,'" related Cooke. The couple has five letters, one from each of the doctors to their family doctor, stating the recommendation to terminate the pregnancy.

"We were shocked by this recommended option and the lack of respect for life, as we were in a Catholic Hospital," Cooke explained. "We told the team of five doctors, we cannot have an abortion and stated we were Catholic. One of the obstetricians said, 'The Catholic Church will back you up, and there is a Committee here at St. Joseph's Hospital that you should speak to.'"

Asked about the role of Fr. Prieur, she said: "Fr. Michael Prieur told us that he was on the Committee at St. Joseph's Hospital with a team of doctors and a midwife and that he was already made aware of our case." She recalled that "he told us the Church will support us if we choose to end the pregnancy through early induction."

Cooke added: "He explained how it would be done and that we would hold our baby until he died. We were confused, mortified and devastated besides our moral reasons why, we knew that ending a pregnancy at any stage was abortion. After Fr. Prieur finished counselling us I said, 'We cannot stop the Hand of God and decide when our baby was going to die.'"

While some have taken offence at the headline of the original exposé, which was "Twenty Years of Eugenic Abortion at Ontario Catholic Hospital," the Cookes feel strongly that the practice at the hospital is just that - "eugenic abortion".

The couple relates that they "chose life," against the advice of the doctors and Fr. Prieur. However, the child died in utero a week prior to birth.

The silver lining to the story is that the couple's faith was strengthened by the experience.

"By choosing life, Brian and I grew closer in our relationship with each other, with our children and especially with God," she explained. "Had we chosen the 'death of our child', our lives would have been nothing but bitter turmoil not to mention, depression and needing a significant amount of counselling afterwards. God truly blessed us and continues to do so. We thank God that He entrusted to us the care of this little soul who would be with Him for Eternity."

The couple now have seven living children.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday

Robert George launches website to test pro-life argument for Obama

From Catholic News Agency (

Princeton, N.J., Feb 13, 2009 / 05:17 pm (CNA).- Some Catholics and Evangelicals in the pro-life community made a significant wager based on Barack Obama’s promise to reduce abortions during the last election, a bet that Princeton philosophy of law professor Robert George is convinced was “foolish.” In order to document the outcome of this gamble, regardless of the results, George and some of his colleagues have launched

Professor George took time earlier this week to explain to CNA what led him to create the website, and he began by recalling the debate surrounding the election.

“In the run-up to the presidential election of November 2008, a small number of outspoken Catholic and Evangelical intellectuals and activists were pushing the idea that it was legitimate to vote for Barack Obama and other pro-abortion liberal candidates, not despite the likely impact of their policies on abortion, but because of the likely impact of their policies on abortion.”

Professor George summed up their reasoning as ignoring the anti-life voting record of the candidates and voting for them because of their economic policies, which would be “so enlightened” that they would reduce poverty, the main cause of abortion, according to these scholars.

“Paradoxically,” said George, “their argument was that voting for the explicitly so called pro-choice candidates was the pro-life thing to do.”

Saying that this argument struck him as “not only as paradoxical but as foolish,” the professor told CNA that he resolved to create a website after the election to track the decisions of the Obama Administration on the issues of “the sanctity of human life and the defense of the institution of marriage.”

The resulting website,, is dedicated to holding accountable “everyone in the debate: those politicians who declared themselves to be opposed to abortion but in favor of its legality and public funding and the expansion of its availability …those intellectuals, Catholic and Evangelical, who in effect gave cover to politicians who were opposed to pro-life laws…and people like me, who were skeptical.”

“We are going to look at what actually happens when a liberal pro-abortion president and a liberal pro-abortion Congress are voted into office.”

“Despite my view that the argument was foolish, if it turns out that I’m wrong, and they were right; if I was foolish to think they were being foolish, I will be held accountable by this website.”

The website is going to publish facts and analysis, George stated.

“It’s going to publish the facts about what happens when abortion is extended, when it’s paid for with public dollars, when laws requiring parental notification for minors who are contemplating abortions or informed consent laws are wiped out…we’ll be able to see the impact was.”

Lest anyone level the charge that George’s new website is about being able to say “I told you so,” he stressed, “That’s not the goal of moral accountability the website, and that’s not the goal of the ethical concept of moral accountability.”

“The goal is to make sure, going forward, -that people in our movement do not repeat mistakes we have made in the past.”

Prof. George explained to CNA that he is willing to believe that the scholars and activists who supported candidates with records in favor of abortion were sincere in their stated beliefs and that they too have a stake in knowing whether they were right or wrong.

Currently, George’s website contains submissions on topics dealing with the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, the Freedom of Choice Act, Obama and same-sex marriage and other decisions made by the new Administration.

The contributors thus far represent both Catholics and Protestants and come from a wide range of disciplines: Constitutional law, political science, theology and philosophy.

Prof. George said that he is interested in engaging in debate with people of opposing views and welcomes their submissions as a way to hold those on his own side of the argument accountable.

In the end, George summarized, “somebody is going to be right, and somebody is going to be wrong.”

The First Principle of Justice

Weigel, G. (18 Feb. 2009). Were they at the same meeting? The Pope and The Speaker. National Review Online. From:

. . . that the Church's opposition to the taking of innocent human life, at any stage of the human journey, is not some weird Catholic hocus-pocus; it's a first principle of justice than can be known by reason. It is a "requirement of the natural moral law" -- that is, the moral truths we can know by thinking about what is right and what is wrong -- to defend the inviolability of innocent human life. You don't have to believe in papal primacy to know that; you don't have do believe in seven sacraments, or the episcopal structure of the Church, or the divinity of Christ, to know that. You don't even have to believe in God to know that. You only have to be a morally serious human being, . . . who understands that moral truth cannot be reduced to questions of feminist political correctness or partisan political advantage. . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Assault Victim Sues Planned Parenthood

Perry, K. (18 Feb. 2009). Assault Victim Sues Planned Parenthood. Cinninnati.Com Crime and Courts. From:

A Warren County woman sued Planned Parenthood Friday, accusing its staff of ignoring training and procedures by not reporting her suspected sex abuse when she was a minor, resulting in her being sexually abused for an additional 1½ years.

“They played ostrich,” attorney Brian Hurley said, suggesting Planned Parenthood employees purposely ignored warning signs of suspected sex abuse.

Hurley filed the suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

The suit accused Planned Parenthood and five of its employees of ignoring obvious signs of suspected sexual abuse instead of reporting them as Ohio law requires.

Attorney Dan Buckley, representing the employees, hadn’t seen the suit and couldn’t comment. The attorney representing Planned Parenthood didn’t immediately return a call.

The woman was sexually assaulted from age 13 through age 17 by her biological father, and became pregnant by him, the suit alleges.

She went to the Mount Auburn facility of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in November 2004 to have an abortion. When questioned by Planned Parenthood employees, the girl told them “that she had been forced to do things that she did not want to do,” the suit alleges.

That statement, Hurley said, should have caused Planned Parenthood employees to alert law enforcement officials about suspected sex abuse against a minor.

The father was arrested 1½ years after her Planned Parenthood experience, Hurley said, when the girl’s future college basketball coach became suspicious and reported suspected abuse.

The father was convicted of sexual battery and sexual touching and sentenced in 2006 to five years in prison.

Now an adult, the woman is in college where she also plays basketball.

“She’s a brave young woman,” Hurley said of his client.

The suit asks for her to be awarded an unspecified amount of money to compensate her for her pain as well as money to punish Planned Parenthood for its role.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

North Dakota Personhood Bill Passes State House 51-41

North Dakota Personhood Bill Passes State House 51-41
Posted on: Tuesday, 17 February 2009, 17:26 CST

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The civil rights movement gained a significant victory today as the North Dakota House of Representatives voted Feb. 17 to recognize the personhood of all human beings.


Led by American Life League Associate group North Dakota Life League, the personhood movement celebrated the passage of The Personhood of Children Act (House Resolution 1572), introduced by State Rep. Dan Ruby, in a 51-41 vote.

"We are very excited about the personhood movement in North Dakota -- which has the chance to become the first state to protect the rights of all its citizens from their biological beginning," said Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League.

The Senate vote is expected in the next two to three weeks.

Fifteen other states are currently pursuing personhood legislation.

American Life League was co-founded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death. For more information or press inquiries, please contact Katie Walker at 540.659.4171.


Personhood North Dakota:

North Dakota Life League:

Examiner: ND Pro-Lifers Hang Hopes on Personhood Referendum (9 February 2009)

SOURCE American Life League

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adult Stem Cells and MS

Watch CBS Videos Online

Poll shows disapproval of Obama's Mexico City policy reversal

Jones. J. (2009).Americans approve of most Obama Actions to date. Gallup Poll. Retrieved from:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Of seven actions Barack Obama has taken during the early days of his presidency, five are supported by large majorities of Americans.

The Jan. 30-Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans to say whether they approve or disapprove of seven specific actions Obama has taken as president. Americans' general support for most of these is in line with Obama's initial overall job approval ratings.

The public is most supportive of his decisions to name special envoys to oversee the administration's efforts in the Middle East, and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to tighten rules on people working as lobbyists either before or after serving in his administration. Both of these moves are favored by 76% of Americans.

Americans are nearly as supportive of Obama's actions to limit the interrogation methods that can be used on military prisoners -- actions designed to ensure the United States does not resort to torture to find out information from prisoners. Seventy-four percent of Americans favor that decision, the same percentage who favor his executive order to institute higher fuel efficiency standards.

Two in three Americans approve of his signing a bill to make it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination, the first legislation he has signed into law as president.

The public does not agree with everything Obama has done, however. For example, more Americans say they disapprove (50%) than approve (44%) of his decision to order the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba within a year.

Further, Obama's decision to reverse the prohibition on funding for overseas family-planning providers may be the least popular thing he has done so far. This was an executive order that forbade federal government money from going to overseas family-planning groups that provide abortions or offer abortion counseling. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's decision to lift this ban, while only 35% approve of it. The ban on federal funds to these groups was put in place by Ronald Reagan, but lifted by Bill Clinton. George W. Bush re-instituted the ban after taking office in 2001, but Obama has once again lifted it.

The abortion and Guantanamo Bay prison decisions are especially unpopular among Republicans; only 8% approve of the former and 11% of the latter. But these are also the least popular decisions among independents and Democrats as well, though a majority of Democrats still approve of both.

Republicans are in general less supportive of all of Obama's important early actions than are Democrats and independents, as would be expected. But a majority of Republicans do approve of four of the seven decisions, including 58% who approve of limitations on certain interrogation techniques, something the Bush administration resisted.


While the public has not supported everything Obama has done in his presidency thus far, he continues to receive strong overall job approval ratings around 66%. It appears that Americans believe the good outweighs the bad to this point in the Obama presidency.

Admittedly, many of Obama's early actions have been noncontroversial, and ones that did not receive a great deal of continuing news coverage. His work in passing an economic stimulus plan is a departure from that, and may provide a stiffer test of how strong his public support is. The U.S. House version of his plan met with opposition from the entire Republican caucus, and the Senate will work this week to craft a different version of the plan that enjoys broader partisan support.

Still, like prior presidents, Obama appears to be enjoying solid public support during this early stage or "honeymoon" phase of his administration.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,027 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Headache That Didn't Go Away

By Sandra G. Boodman
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 3, 2009; Page HE01

Valerie Novak fervently wished doctors would stop telling her the intense headache she'd endured for several weeks was a migraine. For one thing, neither the Georgetown University senior nor her close relatives had headaches, and migraines are frequently familial. None of the increasingly potent drugs doctors prescribed was doing much good. And the 22-year-old had lost 15 pounds in three weeks from bouts of severe vomiting.

"I was so frustrated and upset," recalled Novak of her ordeal last summer, which involved consultations with half a dozen doctors, several trips to area emergency rooms and two hospitalizations. Novak, who had always been healthy, said she feared the unrelenting pain in her left temple and associated symptoms were something "I'd have to live with for the rest of my life."

Her mother, Kathy Novak, a nurse practitioner in Bowie, was similarly skeptical of the diagnosis but grateful that doctors had ruled out more ominous possibilities, such as a brain tumor. When her middle daughter began complaining about double vision, Kathy took her to an ophthalmologist. His judgment led to an accurate diagnosis that had nothing to do with migraines but was instead a rare complication of a common item listed on Novak's medical records. Left untreated, it might have killed her.

An Arabic studies major who had been scheduled to graduate in December 2008, Novak said her headache began last summer while she was in Colorado visiting her boyfriend. When over-the-counter pain relievers failed to work, she consulted a Denver physician, who told her she probably had a migraine that would go away on its own.

Undaunted, she left for a two-week trip to visit an uncle in Egypt.

"I thought she might have a sinus infection, and I knew my brother would help her" if she got worse, her mother recalled. She said she did not know until weeks later how sick her daughter really felt. "She's strong, and she put up a good front," her mother said.

While in Cairo, Novak said, her headaches got worse, and she sometimes felt nauseated and had spells of vomiting, which worsened after a snorkeling trip. A doctor she saw in Cairo performed an MRI and concurred with the migraine diagnosis.

Back home in Howard County a few days before the start of the fall semester, Novak began feeling worse. Her primary care doctor prescribed Imitrex, a powerful anti-migraine drug, which, she said, did nothing to alleviate her pain and made her feel worse. She was prescribed Percocet and, when it failed, Dilaudid, an extremely powerful narcotic, which helped -- until it wore off.

Kathy Novak said neither she nor her nursing colleagues had heard of such an intractable migraine in someone who'd never had headaches. "I think I know migraines, and this isn't helping," she told Valerie's primary care physician. One night she took her daughter to a Maryland emergency room. After a CT scan found nothing, Valerie Novak was prescribed Decadron, an anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea drug given to chemotherapy patients. Nothing seemed to work for long.

Back at Georgetown, Novak tried to settle in to her dorm. She soon developed a new and alarming symptom: tingling in her left hand. On her first day of classes, she recalled, she was unable to concentrate because of the numbness that seemed to be moving up her arm and enveloping her tongue and one side of her face.

She called the student health center and was sent to a nearby emergency room. After a full work-up, she was told -- again -- that she had a migraine. Shortly afterward she was in the office of a neurologist with vomiting so severe that she was unable to keep Jell-O down. The neurologist admitted her to a Montgomery County hospital where she spent four days. "All I did was sleep and throw up," she recalled.

At the hospital, an infectious-disease specialist ruled out meningitis without doing a spinal tap, in part because Novak had never had a fever. Lyme disease and West Nile virus were also discarded as possibilities. A brain MRI, the Novaks were told, showed nothing. Novak's symptoms, including the facial and arm numbness, and intolerance of bright light and noise, were "strongly suggestive of migraine headache," a doctor wrote on her chart. She was given a pain patch and released.

Back home with her parents, unable to go to class, Novak recalled that her "eyesight was getting wonky, with really, really weird double vision." Alarmed, her mother made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, hoping he might have an explanation that didn't involve migraines.

After dilating Novak's eyes, the eye specialist immediately spotted something alarming: Her optic nerves were dangerously swollen. "This is not a migraine," he told Novak. "You have increased intracranial pressure."

The unrelenting headache as well as the numbness, tingling and vomiting were caused by a rise in pressure in the brain. The condition, which can result from a head injury or meningitis, is considered a medical emergency; increased pressure caused by a buildup of fluid can permanently damage the central nervous system by restricting blood flow to vessels that supply the brain. In Novak's case, the double vision was caused by pressure on her cranial nerve.

The ophthalmologist's first thought, given Novak's age and history, was pseudotumor cerebri, a rare condition sometimes called a false brain tumor, that affects women between ages 20 and 45. Valerie's illness had nearly all the hallmarks but lacked one critical variable: She was not overweight or obese, as are most of those with the condition.

The ophthalmologist immediately sent Novak to Greenbelt neurologist Roger Whicker. She immediately began taking a drug to reduce the pressure and underwent another MRI and other testing, which revealed the actual cause of the illness and changed the diagnosis to sagittal sinus thrombosis, or SST, caused by a blood clot in her brain.

The probable cause, doctors concluded after performing tests that ruled out a clotting disorder, was the birth control pills she had been taking for more than four years. Luckily, Whicker said, her brain tissue appeared undamaged, which means she did not have a stroke.

SST often starts with a headache, according to a November 2008 article in eMedicine, an online medical textbook.

Some patients suffer seizures, while others can lapse into a coma if the condition is not treated. Double vision, deafness and facial weakness may also occur. Causes include infection or trauma; pregnancy and birth control pills can increase the risk.

A 1970 report in the Journal of Neurosurgery describes the case of a 27-year-old woman who developed SST after six months on birth control pills. She required treatment for multiple blood clots and seizures as well as surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain. Neurosurgeons reported that her only risk factor appeared to be oral contraceptives.

Whicker said that Novak's is the third case of SST he has seen in his career; the other two patients, he said, had not taken birth control pills. The neurologist said he can't explain why an MRI taken days earlier failed to reveal the potentially lethal clot. "It can be overlooked," he said.

Novak spent nine days in the hospital, where she was given blood thinners to break up the clot. Her double vision receded quickly, while the headaches diminished in severity and became less frequent.

Forced to withdraw for the semester, she spent the fall living with her parents and making regular visits to the neurologist. A few weeks ago she moved back into the dorm at Georgetown and is scheduled to graduate in May.

"I'm feeing pretty good," she said last week, although she still sometimes gets headaches and will remain on a blood thinner for a few more months. Whicker has told her she can never again take birth control pills.

Kathy Novak says she is unsure why so many doctors concluded Valerie's problem was migraines. She is philosophical about the missed opportunities: the spinal tap that would have revealed her daughter's elevated intracranial pressure and the widespread failure to consider the possible role of birth control pills, which doctors were told she was taking.

"I'm just thankful she's okay, with no deficits," she said of her daughter. "I think it could have been a lot worse."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mona Lisa Project

The Mona Lisa Project

New Undercover Video Shows Tucson Planned Parenthood Hiding Sexual Abuse of 15-year-old Girl from the

TUCSON, AZ, Feb. 3 – New hidden-camera footage from Tucson, AZ, implicates a third Planned Parenthood clinic in a multi-state child abuse scandal. In the video, UCLA student Lila Rose and her friend Jackie Stollar enter a Tucson Planned Parenthood clinic where Rose tells the nurse that Stollar, posing as a 15-year-old, is pregnant by her 27-year-old boyfriend. The nurse disregards the age difference and even cautions Stollar not to bring her "boyfriend" before the judicial hearing required in Arizona to waive parental consent for an abortion.
This negligence is punishable under Arizona law.

"Is he not a minor?" the Planned Parenthood nurse, who identifies herself as Araceli, asks. When Rose says, "He's 27," the nurse urges the girls not to bring him to the hearing: "I wouldn't take him with me, no. I mean: don't take him."

The video is the third released in a national undercover probe called the "Mona Lisa Project." The project, conducted by the student-led California nonprofit Live Action, records on video Planned Parenthood employees as they respond to statutory rape. Rather than reporting the rape—as the law requires—Planned Parenthood clinics hide the identity of the statutory rapist and offer secret abortions.

In the past two months, the Mona Lisa Project has exposed similar cases at two Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana. In response, both clinics either fired or suspended employees, and state prosecutors launched investigations into Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

"These videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, is entrenched in an organization-wide policy of circumventing state law and concealing the sexual abuse of young girls," said Live Action's president, Lila Rose.

This is not the first time Planned Parenthood of Arizona has failed to report sexual abuse. In 2002, an Arizona judge found the abortion provider negligent for failing to report the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by her 23-year-old foster brother, who brought her to a Phoenix-area clinic for an abortion in 1998. After Planned Parenthood kept silent about the abuse, the sexual relationship continued and led to a second abortion six months later.

While noting that today Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at an event sponsored by Planned Parenthood, Rose urges Arizona prosecutors to follow the lead of Indiana state authorities and investigate the full extent of Planned Parenthood's sexual abuse cover-up.

"Our footage gives the Arizona public and law enforcement a rare window into Planned Parenthood's careless abortion-first ideology," Rose stated. "With abortion as their first and only solution for the abused victim, Planned Parenthood assists sexual predators by violating the very Arizona state laws that protect children."

Rose adds, "Planned Parenthood is not above the law. They must cooperate with Arizona state authorities to reveal the full extent of their lawbreaking."

The new video can be seen on Live Action's website,

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Trial


Geron to Study GRNOPC1 in Patients with Acute Spinal Cord Injury

MENLO PARK, Calif., January 23, 2009 - Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted clearance of the company's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the clinical trial of GRNOPC1 in patients with acute spinal cord injury. The clearance enables Geron to move forward with the world's first study of a human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-based therapy in man. Geron plans to initiate a Phase I multi-center trial that is designed to establish the safety of GRNOPC1 in patients with "complete" American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade A subacute thoracic spinal cord injuries. "The FDA's clearance of our GRNOPC1 IND is one of Geron's most significant accomplishments to date," said Thomas B. Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., Geron's president and CEO. "This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics - one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells. The ultimate goal for the use of GRNOPC1 is to achieve restoration of spinal cord function by the injection of hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells directly into the lesion site of the patient's injured spinal cord." GRNOPC1, Geron's lead hESC-based therapeutic candidate, contains hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells that have demonstrated remyelinating and nerve growth stimulating properties leading to restoration of function in animal models of acute spinal cord injury (Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 25, 2005). "The neurosurgical community is very excited by this new approach to treating devastating spinal cord injury," said Richard Fessler, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. "Demyelination is central to the pathology of the injury, and its reversal by means of injecting oligodendrocyte progenitor cells would be revolutionary for the field. If safe and effective, the therapy would provide a viable treatment option for thousands of patients who suffer severe spinal cord injuries each year." The GRNOPC1 Clinical Program Patients eligible for the Phase I trial must have documented evidence of functionally complete spinal cord injury with a neurological level of T3 to T10 spinal segments and agree to have GRNOPC1 injected into the lesion sites between seven and 14 days after injury. Geron has selected up to seven U.S. medical centers as candidates to participate in this study and in planned protocol extensions. The sites will be identified as they come online and are ready to enroll subjects into the study. Although the primary endpoint of the trial is safety, the protocol includes secondary endpoints to assess efficacy, such as improved neuromuscular control or sensation in the trunk or lower extremities. Once safety in this patient population has been established and the FDA reviews clinical data in conjunction with additional data from ongoing animal studies, Geron plans to seek FDA approval to extend the study to increase the dose of GRNOPC1, enroll subjects with complete cervical injuries and expand the trial to include patients with severe incomplete (ASIA grade B or C) injuries to enable access to the therapy for as broad a population of severe spinal cord-injured patients as is medically appropriate. Preclinical Evidence of Safety, Tolerability and Efficacy Geron submitted evidence of the safety, tolerability and efficacy of GRNOPC1 to the FDA in a 21,000-page IND application that described 24 separate animal studies requiring the production of more than five billion GRNOPC1 cells. Included in the safety package were studies that showed no evidence of teratoma formation 12 months after injection of clinical grade GRNOPC1 into the injured spinal cord of rats and mice. Other studies documented the absence of significant migration of the injected cells outside the spinal cord, allodynia induction (increased neuropathic pain due to the injected cells), systemic toxicity or increased mortality in animals receiving GRNOPC1. In vitro studies have shown that GRNOPC1 is minimally recognized by the human immune system. GRNOPC1 is not recognized in vitro by allogeneic sera, NK cells or T cells (Journal of Neuroimmunology, Vol. 192, 2007). These immune-privileged characteristics of the hESC-derived cells allow a clinical trial design that incorporates a limited course of low-dose immunosuppression and provide the rationale for an off-the-shelf, allogeneic cell therapy. Also included in the IND application were published studies supporting the utility of GRNOPC1 for the treatment of spinal cord injury. Those studies showed that administration of GRNOPC1 significantly improved locomotor activity and kinematic scores of animals with spinal cord injuries when injected seven days after the injury (Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 25, 2005). Histological examination of the injured spinal cords treated with GRNOPC1 showed improved axon survival and extensive remyelination surrounding the rat axons. These effects of GRNOPC1 were present nine months after a single injection of cells. In these nine-month studies, the cells were shown to migrate and fill the lesion cavity, with bundles of myelinated axons crossing the injury site. Production and Qualification of GRNOPC1 GRNOPC1 is produced using current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) in Geron's manufacturing facilities. Geron's GRNOPC1 production process and clean-room suites have been inspected and licensed by the state of California. The cells are derived from the H1 human embryonic stem cell line, which was created before August 9, 2001. Studies using this line qualify for U.S. federal research funding, although no federal funding was received for the development of the product or to support the clinical trial. Geron's H1 hESC master cell bank is fully qualified for human use and was shown to be karyotypically normal and free of measurable contaminants of human or animal origin. Production of GRNOPC1 from undifferentiated hESCs in the master cell bank uses qualified reagents and a standardized protocol developed at Geron over the past three years. Each manufacturing run of GRNOPC1 is subjected to standardized quality control testing to ensure viability, sterility and appropriate cellular composition before release for clinical use. GRNOPC1 product that has passed all such specifications and has been released is available for the approved clinical trial. The current production scale can supply product needs through pivotal clinical trials. The existing master cell bank could potentially supply sufficient starting material for GRNOPC1 to commercially supply the U.S. acute spinal cord injury market for more than 20 years. Intellectual Property The production and commercialization of GRNOPC1 is protected by a portfolio of patent rights owned by or exclusively licensed to Geron. Patent rights owned by Geron protect key technologies developed at Geron for the scalable manufacturing of hESCs, as well as the production of neural cells by differentiation of hESCs. The fundamental patents covering hESCs are exclusively licensed to Geron from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) for the production of neural cells, cardiomyocytes and pancreatic islets for therapeutic applications. The validity of these patents was recently confirmed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a re-examination proceeding. Geron funded the original research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that led to the first isolation of hESCs. The production of oligodendrocytes from hESCs is covered by patent rights exclusively licensed to Geron from the University of California. These patent rights cover technology developed in a research collaboration between Geron and University of California scientists. Conference Call and Video Webcast Thomas B. Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., will host a conference call and video Webcast presentation for investors and the media at 6:00 a.m. PST/9:00 a.m. EST today. Participants can access the conference call via telephone by dialing 866-783-2145 (U.S.) or 857-350-1604 (international). The passcode is 89631672. The video Webcast presentation is available at All participants are encouraged to view Dr. Okarma's presentation on the Internet. The video Webcast will also be accessible through a link that is posted on the home page of Geron's Web site at Participants are encouraged to log on at least 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the presentation in order to download any necessary software. The video Webcast will be available for replay through February 23, 2009. About Geron Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure and diabetes. The company is advancing an anti-cancer drug and a cancer vaccine that target the enzyme telomerase through multiple clinical trials. Geron is also the world leader in the development of human embryonic stem (hESC) cell-based therapeutics. The company has received FDA clearance to begin the world's first human clinical trial of a hESC-based therapy: GRNOPC1 for acute spinal cord injury. For more information, visit This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that statements in this press release regarding potential applications of Geron's human embryonic stem cell technology constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and maintenance of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron's periodic reports, including the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2008.

CONTACTS: Media: David Schull, Russo Partners, LLC, 858-717-2310, At Geron: Anna Krassowska, Investor and Media Relations, 650-473-7765,

Forced to Abort

Editorial: Forced to Abort. (2009 Jan. 18). The Washington Times Retrieved from: on Jan. 23, 2009.

Many women say they have been pressured into abortions they did not want, according to research conducted by the Elliot Institute, a nonprofit specializing in the effects of abortion on women and families. For years, the pro-choice movement has circulated horrid tales of back-alley abortions performed before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand in 1973. Yet the opposite phenomenon, which has occurred across the nation, is even more disturbing. In a society in which abortion is legal, many women and teens are pressured to abort their child. So how much choice do American women really have over their reproductive capacities?

Women are coerced to abort a fetus by either husbands or boyfriends who do not want the additional responsibility or expense of a child; by parents who are ashamed of a teen pregnancy or who seek to conceal incest or rape; or by counselors, pastors and health professionals who insist this is in a woman's best interest even when she doesn't think so. Consider the pressures women face to abort a child: 45 percent of men interviewed at abortion clinics said they urged abortion, including 37 percent of married men, according to the report "Forced Abortion in America" that compiled much of the research on this topic. Women are often threatened by male companions who take them to their abortion appointment, according to eyewitness accounts at abortion clinics. And women are also encouraged to abort their fetus by the staff at these clinics who have a vested interest in selling the procedure.

Pressure to abort can consist of badgering a pregnant woman until she concedes, intimidation, blackmail and even violence. An astounding 64 percent of women say they were intensely pressured to abort their fetus, according to a 2004 study published in the Medical Science Monitor. Hundreds of women have come forward to tell their tale - and some of these stories have led to convictions of coercers.

In Florida, Glenda Dowis brought her pregnant daughter at gunpoint to an abortion clinic, where the staff called police. To cover up her son's rape of a 12-year-old, Pennsylvania mother Joyce Farley took the pregnant girl out of state for an abortion - her parents were not notified. Nine women held in a juvenile detention center in Chalkville, Alabama accused the male guards of repeatedly raping them and then forcing the girls to have abortions when they became pregnant. Augencia Jasso of New Mexico was charged after hitting his pregnant, young, sexually abused victim in the stomach, deliberately inducing a miscarriage.

In other instances, coercion was less intense, but nonetheless played a vital role. A homeless woman, Shontrese Otry, was coerced to get an abortion by Emergency Shelters Inc., whose staff would not give her shelter unless she aborted the baby; she later won a $25,000 settlement. Actress Hunter Tylo was told by producers of "Melrose Place" to "just go out and get an abortion" when she became pregnant; she was fired - and later won a pregnancy discrimination suit. Assistant women's basketball coach Sharrona Alexander was told by a head coach at the University of California- Berkeley to quit or have an abortion; she gave birth and then won a $115,000 settlement.

Elliott Institute founder David Reardon says that Americans need to think about the man
by ways women feel pressured to abort, and then suffer severe emotional and psychological consequences. In one instance, a pregnant teen he interviewed said she was asked by her mother: "Where will you live?"According to Mr. Reardon, "The withdrawal of social and economic support by parents is among one of the most common forms of coercion."
Yet, despite the growing body of evidence on the issue of forced abortions, little headway has been made in protecting women. "I have been disappointed in the pro-life camp for not raising the level of urgency on this,"said Dr. Reardon. A simple solution is for states to pass a bill such as "The Prevention of Coerced and Unsafe Abortions Act" featured in the report.

This would require health professionals to screen for coercion and to counsel against an abortion in instances where there is a high risk that the woman is not freely consenting or that she will suffer severe depression - and possibly even attempt suicide - as a result of the procedure. Introducing a legal liability for psychological damage is one possible way to combat these practices. There is an ugly - and underreported - underside to the abortion industry: "Choice" is sometimes turned into coercion. The back alleys are gone, but the dangers for both mother and child are ever-present.