Culture: April 2007 Archives

Usually it's the other way around. Since Republicans gained control of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, several significant bills have been passed and signed into law which advance the cause of the sanctity of human life. In 2006, a bill providing for informed consent passed both houses by a wide margin and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who was then looking ahead to his re-election campaign.

This year, veto-proof majorities in both chambers approved a bill (SB 714) that would have restricted abortion in state-owned facilities. This time Henry, now term-limited and a lame duck, vetoed the bill. I'll take that to mean he isn't running for U. S. Senate or any other office in this pro-life state, and that his retirement plans depend on making nice with a key national Democratic constituency, namely the abortion industry.

Brandon Dutcher sums it up nicely:

We know that Brad Henry doesn't want to go down in history as the lottery governor. Well, perhaps he'll be able to shed that moniker after all. Perhaps he'll be remembered as the abortion governor.

Would that the governor would remember: These blobs of tissue are only four years away from being revenue units for Oklahoma's vaunted pre-K program!

Please contact the State Reps and State Senators who voted for SB 714 and encourage them to vote to override the veto. You'll find the list of State Senators voting yes, with their e-mail addresses, in Oklahomans for Life's latest legislative alert (PDF).

Meanwhile, the U. S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld a federal law banning partial birth abortions. For all the other problems with the Bush administration, his court appointments made this decision possible. Ruben at ProLifeBlogs noticed an interesting remark in Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion -- she doesn't think the doctrine of stare decisis ought to apply to this ruling.

ProLifeBlogs notes that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is promoting his bill to provide federal funding for research using stem cells extracted from living human embryos, and he had this to say:

Think about it: If you were treating someone with embryonic stem cells, would you rather use stem cells that came from a healthy embryo, or a dead embryo? The dead embryo died for a reason. There's something wrong with it. Chances are, the stem cells that come from that dead embryo aren't so great, either. So why does anyone think a dead embryo holds the secret to curing juvenile diabetes?...

If this year's debate goes like last year's, then we can also expect opponents of S. 5 to make a lot of unfounded claims about adult stem cells. To repeat, I'm all for adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells are being used successfully today in treating several blood-related diseases. Our scientists should continue this area of research.

But adult stem cells have their limits. They can't do everything that embryonic stem cells can do.

As it turns out, the secret to curing juvenile (Type 1) diabetes isn't in embryonic stem cells at all:

Diabetics using stem-cell therapy have been able to stop taking insulin injections for the first time, after their bodies started to produce the hormone naturally again.

What kind of stem cells? Embryonic cells, you ask? Nope. (Emphasis added.)

In a breakthrough trial, 15 young patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes were given drugs to suppress their immune systems followed by transfusions of stem cells drawn from their own blood.

The results show that insulin-dependent diabetics can be freed from reliance on needles by an injection of their own stem cells. The therapy could signal a revolution in the treatment of the condition, which affects more than 300,000 Britons.

(Via Dan Paden.)

MORE: The Times writer added this irrelevant detail to the story:

But research using the most versatile kind of stem cells — those acquired from human embryos — is currently opposed by powerful critics, including President Bush.

Penraker notes the distorting effect of media bias:

Damn George Bush! He and his cronies are sentencing millions of people to death!

Or so they would have you believe. This is the worst, most repulsive kind of journalism - the kind that actively tries to mislead the public by leaving out information. Nowhere does it tell you that Bush explicitly endorses the kind of research on adult stem cells that produced this breakthrough. It tries to mislead the public into thinking that this result was brought about by the type of stem cell research Bush opposes.

Some readers will fix on that line while skimming this story and come away with the impression that this was the result of embryonic stem cell therapy.

Not only does the statement misdirect the reader's attention, Michael Williams points out that it's flat out wrong:

The claim in the first phrase above is false: embryonic stem cells are no more "versatile" than stem cells taken from, e.g., amniotic fluid. Furthermore, embryonic stem cells tend to turn cancerous and cause brain tumors.

So why are leftist politicians and reporters such enthusiastic promoters of research that has yet to show promise of a cure and so dismissive of research that has accomplished a great deal already? Here's Williams's answer:

Why are so many people so eager to slaughter babies and harvest their stem cells despite the fact that embryonic stem cells can't cure anything? I can think of only two explanations. First, scientists who have invested their careers in this direction want to keep the grant money flowing. Second, pro-abortionists recognize their need to increase acceptance of abortion among an increasingly pro-life population.

I'm reminded of a bit in the satirical book The 80s: A Look Back (published in 1979): The humane objection to clubbing baby harp seals for their pelts vanished when it was discovered that the brain fluid of clubbed baby harp seals cured cancer.

At some point, with enough funding, they're bound to find some cure involving embryonic stem cells. Many Americans, pragmatists that we are, will conclude that the destruction of embryonic human life is worthwhile, which will encourage a more cavalier attitude toward life in the womb.

But if more Americans come to understand that all the cures to date have come from non-embryonic stem cell research, the push for embryonic stem cell research will dry up.

The Long Walkers

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Melungeons. Rom. Ramapo Mountain People. Irish Travellers. Lumbee Indians. Black Irish. Black Dutch. Indians speaking Welsh. Ancient Irish script in West Virginia. Runes in southeastern Oklahoma.

Patrick Mead is weaving a fascinating story of hidden people groups -- nomadic or isolated peoples here in the US -- and stories that defy the standard theories on how and when different groups came to North America. Interwoven with stories of various hidden groups, Patrick tells his own story of discovering his Scottish Traveller and Melungeon heritage -- getting his father to spill some closely-held family secrets -- when he contracted a rare lung disease that white people aren't supposed to get.

RELATED (4/12/2007): Julie R. Neidlinger writes about a case in North Dakota in which a juror admits to using a defendant's Roma (Gypsy) Bosnian ethnic background against him during deliberations. "I used my own experiences with ethnic groups, specifically Bosnians and/or Gypsies, to influence the jury.... I told the jury that I had personal experience with Bosnians and that they stole from my business and in the same experience lied to me regarding the theft and their conduct. Even though I had never met Mr. Hidanovic, or any of the witnesses, Mr. Hidanovic and the witnesses' race was discussed in a negative way.... I interjected into the deliberations the concept that if Mr. Hidanovic wasn't guilty of this crime he was guilty of something else."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from April 2007.

Culture: March 2007 is the previous archive.

Culture: May 2007 is the next archive.

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