Fetal Body Parts “Scandal” Bigger Than Planned Parenthood

ChelseaAbortion, Planned Parenthood, ScienceLeave a Comment


Last year, a series of undercover videos exposed appeared to show Planned Parenthood executives negotiating the sale of fetal body parts from some of their abortion clinics.

These videos triggered a Congressional investigation into the relationship between the abortion industry and “fetal procurement organizations” and whether or not there is any “buying and selling” or profit being made, which is against the law.

Last week Rep. Marsha Blackburn sat down with The Daily Signal to give an update on the progress of the House’s Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which runs through the end of the year.

Most pro-lifers focus solely on Planned Parenthood’s role in “selling” aborted fetal body parts, but Rep. Blackburn did a good job of explaining why this is much larger than just Planned Parenthood.

I spoke about this last year with Dr. Stacy Trasancos, who has noted that, “Planned Parenthood could shut down completely tomorrow, but the use of aborted fetuses and fetal body parts will not stop.”

Currently the panel is investigating the “buyers”, seeking bank records from fetal procurement agencies — who then sell them to researchers — in order to determine whether they, too, are making a profit from the sale of aborted fetal body parts.

On one invoice, they found taxes being charged on the sale of “baby brains”. Said Blackburn,

If you’re charging tax, that would lead you to believe that it’s not like our organ donation programs… that this is something that has moved into a profit motive structure, and we’re very concerned about what that does to women and babies.

This “profit motive structure,” notes Blackburn, turns every pregnant woman into a “profit center” not just for abortion clinics, but for fetal procurement agencies, as well.

There is already evidence that some procurement companies work with abortion clinics to review medical files of women scheduled to have an abortion – without their consent – in order to assign body parts orders to babies who match the requested gestational age and sex.

But, what happens when the demand outweighs the supply? Something Rebecca and I also discussed in this episode of BioTalk.

In one of the undercover videos, Cate Dyer, CEO of StemExpress, admitted that they were working with “almost like triple digit number clinics (not all PP) and we still need more.”

So, what’s next? They’re already obtaining confidential info on women scheduled for abortion. Will abortion clinics give them info on all pregnant women who come in possibly seeking abortion?

Blackburn did not say what type of action or suggestions we can expect to come from the Select Panel investigation, but I only see one solution: We need to stop using tissue from abortion in research.

For decades the use of fetal material has been a research tactic that is 1) considered ethical and legal, 2) coordinated across continents if necessary, 3) funded by governments and private foundations, 4) demanded by industry, and 5) applauded by the scientific community.

The longer this remains a common, legal practice, the more the scientific community drives the demand for aborted fetal body parts.

We should be treating this much like we treated the embryonic stem cell debate — putting pressure on 1. lawmakers to defund and outlaw this research and 2. scientists to pursue ethical alternatives. If we do not, we risk ending up with a medical system that is inextricably linked to the abortion industry.

Audio: On Me Before You and the Scientifically Progressive Catholic Church

ChelseaPro Life1 Comment


“I had heard this was a good book and read it. I was horrified.”

That was the reaction from a friend of mine to the book Me Before You, which has been made into a major motion picture hitting theaters this weekend.

Last Friday I talked to Mike Allen about why Me Before You is yet another bad chapter in Hollywood’s treatment of disability, assisted suicide.

We also discussed how, despite popular belief, the Catholic Church is actually very scientifically progressive.

Be sure to check out my original posts:
Me Before You and the Slow Suicide of the West
The Scientifically Progressive Catholic Church

Rebecca Frech also has some good discussion questions for anyone reading or planning on seeing Me Before You.

(If the players above don’t work click for direct links to: audio 1, audio 2.)

The Scientifically Progressive Catholic Church

ChelseaScience, Stem Cell ResearchLeave a Comment


During a recent appearance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, talk show host and former news anchor Katie Couric made the following comment:

“I was at a scientific conference at the Vatican a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was actually very progressive of the Catholic Church to want to understand science…”

In a previous episode of BioTalk, Rebecca and I discussed the common view of the Catholic Church being “backward” when it comes to science and how she actually has been and is now one of the most forward-thinking or “progressive” institutions in the world — especially in the area of science and biotechnology:

The Church is always condemned for not giving short-sighted acceptance to every scientific or technological breakthrough. However,

If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world. (Spe Salvi, 22)

So, the Church takes the time to evaluate what the research involves and whether or not it respects the dignity of the human person.

Stem cell research is a good example of this.

By and large the great “stem cell debate” has died down in the general public, but the “controversy” is far from over.

As Rebecca and I talked about in another, more recent episode of BioTalk, and Stacy Trasancos discusses here, cells from aborted fetuses are still a hot commodity in modern research.

Also, in two separate studies scientists have reported keeping embryos alive, healthy and developing for 12-13 days. In both studies the embryos grew autonomously and began processes that lead to organ development.

This is significant because for decades international policy has limited embryo research to the first two weeks of development. Until now there had never been reports of anyone cultivating in vitro human embryos past seven to nine days. Now scientists are calling for an extension of the 14-day rule.

The Catholic Church obviously objects to these approaches to regenerative medicine, because “[t]he destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another” (Pope Benedict). The intentional creation and destruction of human life, through cloning and ESC research violates the inherent dignity of all human life (at any stage).

But the Church doesn’t stop at merely condemning ethically problematic research. She also promotes dialogue between science and ethics in order to guide research in a direction that is truly fruitful and beneficial to humanity.

The scientific conference that Couric attended was the third international conference on regenerative medicine co-hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the Stem for Life Foundation.

The conference gathered the world’s leading cell therapy scientists, physicians, patient advocates, ethicists, philanthropists, leaders of faith and government officials to discuss the latest cellular therapy breakthroughs and engender hope for the future. This year’s focus was particularly on pediatric cancers and rare diseases, as well as diseases that occur with aging.

In his address to the conference, pope Francis recognized society’s, “educational urgency, together with the maturing of the intellectual faculties of the students.”

“In this pedagogical frontier,” the pope said, “it is necessary, in the context of the life sciences and medical sciences, to design interdisciplinary courses reserving a substantial space for human formation with a fundamental reference to ethics.”

Both academic and industrial research, the pope continued, require “constant attention to moral issues in order to be a tool for protecting life and the dignity of the human person.”

Me Before You and the Slow Suicide of the West

ChelseaAssisted Suicide5 Comments


Sometimes movie spoilers are a welcome thing.

Several months ago I saw a trailer for the movie Me Before You and got a little excited. A modern romance featuring a disabled main character. It looked so positive and promising.

I should have known better.

Apparently Me Before You, which hits theaters next weekend, was a novel first and many disability rights activists are speaking out about its less-than-romantic ending. Some even protested at the movie’s UK premier.

“I had heard this was a good book and read it. I was horrified,” a friend of mine told me.

So, consider this your warning.

Once again we have a story involving disability told through an entirely able-bodied lens. The message: It’s better to be dead than disabled. And, as in Million Dollar Baby before it, instead of learning to live with his disability, the main character gets help ending his life.

Dominick Evans and Kim Sauder, who have both read the novel, have the must-reads on all that is wrong with Me Before You — not the least of which is that neither the book’s author nor the filmmakers’ seem to have bothered to even try to consult anyone actually living with the disability they portray.

Defenders of Me Before You will brush off criticism of the story because, “some disabled people people actually feel that way, so who are you to judge?”

While that may technically be true, and, yes, a spinal cord injury is devastating to come to terms with, the reality is that the Daniel Jameses and Dan Crewes of the world represent a very tiny percentage of patients who cannot accept or live with their injuries. Most paralyzed people are quite happy to be alive.

Of all the things Evans and Sauder mention, however, this part really stood out to me. Speaking of the female lead’s traumatic past, Sauder writes:

It’s bad enough that rape was used as character development, but it is made worse when it is clearly something Louisa is meant to get past with Will’s assistance but Will isn’t supposed to learn to live with being paralyzed. It clearly sets up the idea that people can and should be expected to come to terms with certain kinds of trauma but not others.

I found this particularly ironic because in the Netherlands recently, where assisted suicide has been legal for decades, a woman in her twenties was actually given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that she had “incurable” post-traumatic stress disorder following years of sexual abuse as a child.

The unnamed woman also suffered from anorexia, flashbacks, hallucinations, chronic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood swings and other physical illnesses relating to her mental state.

It went ahead, according to the Daily Mail, “despite improvements in the woman’s psychological condition after ‘intensive therapy’ two years ago.”

So, to the able-bodied movie-goers across the nation who will get misty-eyed and praise Will Traynor’s selflessness act of “love” and think every disabled person should have the same “choice”, consider this: it is well established that once death becomes acceptable treatment for some pain and suffering, it eventually becomes the answer to all.

Dr. Theo de Boer, a former member of a euthanasia review board in the Netherlands, recently wrote about the country’s ever-expanding criteria for euthanasia, which was once limited to terminal illness, but now includes dementia, psychiatric illnesses, and accumulated age-related complaints.

And then, of course, there’s Belgium, where Parliament passed a euthanasia law in 2002, and the public was promised that there would be strict safeguards. Now, 14 years later, infants and teenagers can be candidates for a lethal injection and there are seminars in nursing homes promoting euthanasia as an appropriate option.

As my friend, Dr. Gerard Nadal, put it recently, “If death is the best that the most educated amongst us has to offer those who live in the grip of fear and suffering, then western civilization is officially dead.”

Instead of seeing what has happened in Belgium and the Netherlands as a warning sign, Canada is on the verge of passing some of the world’s most radical, far-reaching, assisted suicide legislation. And, even closer to home, it looks like New York could become the 6th state in the US to make Dr. prescribed suicide legal.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, it also turns out that states that have assisted suicide also have a statistically significant increase in other suicides.

Welcome to the slow suicide of the West.

Subscribe to BioTalk on iTunes!

ChelseaBioTalkLeave a Comment


BioTalk is finally available on iTunes for your listening convenience.

Please check it out, get caught up on anything you might have missed — and subscribe, so you don’t miss anything in the future!



Audio: Canada and the ‘Slippery Slope’ of Legal Assisted Suicide

ChelseaAssisted SuicideLeave a Comment


St. Gianna, patron saint of physicians, pray for us!

This morning I was on the Mike Allen Show discussing Canada’s assisted suicide legislation and the real, documented slippery slope of making death acceptable “treatment” for pain and suffering. (I start about 15 minutes in.)

It wasn’t my finest performance, especially toward the end. And as always, we don’t always get to everything we plan to cover.

One of the things I wanted to bring up was the possibility that we could see ourselves in a similar situation as Canada here in the United States — depending on how the current Supreme Court vacancy turns out.

I was not aware that the SCOTUS took up an assisted suicide case in 1997: Washington v. Glucksberg. The justices unanimously rejected the claim that there was a constitutional “right” to assist suicide, but left a sort of open-ended invitation to bring a case in the future.

See: A changing Supreme Court: the legalization of euthanasia could hang in the balance

Despite the movement for physician assisted suicide gaining momentum throughout the country, it still largely continues to be defeated in State legislatures and courts. If pro-euthanasia advocates see an opportunity to bypass the slow and steady approach in the states and take it directly to a suicide-friendly Supreme Court, you can bet they’ll take it.

Dear Doc: Please Don’t Kill Me

ChelseaAssisted SuicideLeave a Comment

assistedsuicide.jpgIn anticipation of Canada passing radical new assisted suicide legislation, my friend Mark Pickup has written a letter to his physician instructing him to never allow or cause him to be euthanized — even if he asks for it:

Dear Dr. __:

I can hardly bring myself to write these words but a dark reality in Canada requires it. I am referring to legalizing physician assisted suicide scheduled to begin in 2016. For over 20 years I have feared that a time such as this would come to my country and against the Common Good of society at large. I have spoken across Canada and America against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Should I ever request assisted suicide, I want you to refuse to help me. On this point I am emphatic. Presume that I am speaking out of depression or that multiple sclerosis has begun to affect my mental state. I would not make such a request in my right mind. If, in your judgment, I am suffering from depression please get me the counseling I need; if the MS is affecting my mind protect me from myself or others who would take my life before my natural death. Regarding my end of life care I ask you to provide treatment in accordance with my Roman Catholic faith (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos 2276-2282) .

I have such deep respect for you and the proper application of your profession (in its Hippocratic tradition) I would not ask you to stop being my healer and become my killer, unless my mental faculties were impaired by depression or disease.


Mark Davis Pickup

I don’t blame Mark for being so cautious.

Once upon a time physicians and medical professionals — believers and non-believers alike — actually swore an oath to recognize and uphold the dignity of their patients and “never do harm” or administer deadly medicine to anyone — even when asked. Not anymore.

And once we start making death an acceptable “treatment” for pain and suffering, we are in for a world of trouble.

Here Mark discusses the new assisted suicide legislation and its potential impact on society and the medical profession.

The “slippery slope” of assisted suicide is real and well documented. One only has to look at places like Belgium and the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal for several years.

In fact, Dr. Theo de Boer, a professor of health care ethics at the Theological University in Kampen and associate professor of ethics at the Protestant Theological University in Groningen in the Netherlands, recently penned a warning to other countries considering the practice.

Writing in the American Protestant magazine Christian Century, Dr. de Boer, a former member of a euthanasia review board in the Netherlands, notes how he saw the pace of euthanasia accelerate, rising by 15 percent each year. And how, as the numbers climbed, the criteria expanded.

“Neither the Netherlands nor Belgium has made a serious attempt to address the rising incidents of assisted dying and the shift from seeing assisted dying as a last resort to seeing it as a normal death,” deBoer writes. “It appears that once legalization of assisted dying has occurred, critical reflection is difficult…If there’s even one case of assisted dying for which there was a less drastic alternative, then that is one case too many.”

It is a must-read for anyone interested in the assisted suicide/euthanasia debate.


Europe Rejects Surrogacy (Again)

ChelseaReproductive Technology, SurrogacyLeave a Comment


More good news from Europe: last month the Council of Europe’s Social Affairs and Health Committee voted against the draft report on surrogacy that proposed regulation of the practice rather than a full ban.

This comes just three months after the European Parliament approved a resolution condemning all forms of surrogacy as “reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain”.

No doubt Europe is under heavy pressure to allow surrogacy as the “Global Rent-A Womb Industry is Beginning to Crumble“.

Due to ethical concerns of exploitation, countries like Cambodia, India, Mexico, Thailand and others have restricted the practice by closing their doors to foreign and same-sex couples.

Unfortunately, without even so much as a whisper of a national conversation on the practice, America seems content to remain the “Wild West” of third party reproduction.

I spoke with Mike Allen a little bit about this on his radio show recently:

See also: Global Rent-A Womb Industry Beginning to Crumble

A Gift From God or Science?

ChelseaPro LifeLeave a Comment

I know many people who consider third party reproduction (3PR) a “gift from God” to suffering infertile couples. But as far as I can see, 3PR is and has been, more than anything I’ve seen in modern history, a prime example of human beings “playing God.”

The latest example comes from American model Chrissy Teigen and her Grammy winning husband, John Legend who are expecting a baby girl — and not by accident.

“I’ve made this decision,” Teigen told People. “Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, ‘Let’s put in the girl.'”
In his book Three to Get Married, Ven. Fulton Sheen I recently came across this:

Our entire outlook on life, conception and birth changes once these things are seen not as an evolution from slime, but as a gift from the Divine. Human generation is not a push upward from the beast, but rather a gift downward from the Trinity. The begetting of children is not an imitation of the beasts of the field, but a feeble reflection of the eternal generation of the second Person in the bosom of the Father.

It’s amazing how much “our entire outlook on life, conception and birth” has changed in such a short time.

Contrast the good bishop’s words to those of Dr. Gil Wilshire with Mid-Missouri Reproductive Medicine and Surgery in Columbia, MO, who said: “We need three things: a good egg, some good sperm and a good uterus. And we can mix and match these.”

This is the world we live in. The creation of new human life is nothing more than a biological formula; a science experiment, rather than the mysterious fruit of a loving act between husband and wife; a gift of science rather than a gift from the Divine.

Is it any wonder, then, that people think they can pick and choose from the children they manufacture which ones get to see the light of day?

Taking the creation of life out of its natural, God-given context and moving it into the science lab has seriously altered how many view the wonder and mystery of new life and how that new life should be treated.

Sex-selection is not uncommon with 3PR, especially here in the United States, and “weeding out” weak, diseased or otherwise “defective” embryos is standard practice. As gene editing technology progresses, is there any doubt we’ll “designer babies” in the not-to-distant future?

Recommended: Chrissy Teigen’s ‘embryo-shopping’ is a slap in the face

Human GMOs and U.S. Public Policy

ChelseaBioTalk, Genetic EngineeringLeave a Comment

Last year the restaurant chain Chipotle made major headlines for announcing that all(ish) of its food would be “GMO free” (that’s fine, I never liked Chipotle, anyway). They actually received a heavy amount of criticism for this move, nevertheless, it’s safe to say they wouldn’t have done it if there weren’t a growing number of the general public wary of the “health risks” of so-called “Frankenfoods.”

NoGMO-people-small.pngFor a society that cares so much about genetically-modified organisms in their food supply, you would think we’d be a little more cautious about the genetic modification of people.

After nearly a year of evaluation, last month the National Institutes of Medicine recommended that the FDA approve three-parent embryo techniques for use in IVF in the United States.

In this episode of BioTalk, I spoke with Dr. David Prentice about what, if anything, is being done to stem the tide of human genetic engineering in the United States. And if there’s any hope for tighter, more permanent restrictions in the future.

Audio only:

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