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LIFE DIGEST: Death of abortion patient confirmed; adult stem cells make more progress; Eareckson Tada joins suit in Calif.


WASHINGTON (BP)–George Tiller, probably America’s best-known abortion doctor, and his allies are facing problems on a number of fronts.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline confirmed that a 19-year-old disabled woman from Texas died after being rushed Jan. 13 from Tiller’s clinic in Wichita to Wesley Medical Center, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Tiller, owner of the Women’s Health Care Services clinic since 1975, has become known as the leading provider of late-term abortions in the United States. The clinic’s website describes him as a specialist in “2nd trimester elective and 2nd/3rd trimester therapeutic abortion care.” The Internet site also says thousands of women “throughout the world” have been patients at the clinic.

Among other developments:

— Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has asked the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to investigate the woman’s death and to report on whether an abortion clinic licensing bill she vetoed in 2003 might have prevented the death, The Eagle reported.

— Tiller contributed more than $20,000 in political donations to Sebelius from 1994 to 2002, CNS News reported Feb. 28.

— Information on another woman who was rushed from Tiller’s clinic to Wesley Medical Center has been blocked so far, Operation Rescue reported. O.R. obtained a transcript from an emergency call by Tiller Feb. 17, but some of the information was deleted. The redacted transcript said the woman was 30 years old and conscious at the time of the call.

— Kline and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have issued subpoenas for records from Tiller’s clinic. Abbott’s investigation does not involve the woman’s death but crimes that may have been committed in Texas, a spokesman said, according to The Kansas City Star.

— Tiller’s clinic is one of two that have gone to the Kansas Supreme Court to keep from turning their records over to Kline. The Kansas attorney general is seeking the records of 90 women who asked for abortions at least 22 weeks into their pregnancies, according to The Eagle. Those records could include information on crimes against minors, Kline said, The Eagle reported. According to state data, 78 Kansas girls age 14 and younger had abortions in the state in 2003. Sexual intercourse with a child 14 or younger is against state law.

Pro-life organizations applauded Kline’s efforts.

“Sexual predators who force girls to undergo abortions in order to cover up the evidence of their criminal activity too often evade the law, thanks to abortion clinics [that] are disguising criminal activity as a privacy issue,” said Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America’ senior policy director, in a written statement. “Abortion clinics are simply attempting to direct the spotlight away from themselves in order to disguise the assistance they offer to rapists by committing abortions on the victims.”

MORE MIRACULOUS CELLS –- Researchers may have discovered a type of cell in human bone marrow that could eliminate the controversy over destructive embryonic stem cell research, The Washington Post has reported.

Tests on cells sorted from the bone marrow samples of three donors indicated the cells have the potential to morph into many, perhaps all, kinds of human cells, according to The Post. In experiments with rats, the newly identified cells produced new heart muscle and blood vessels, The Post reported, while other experiments demonstrated the marrow cells can become nerve-like cells.

“I think embryonic stem cells are going to fade in the rearview mirror of adult stem cells,” Douglas Losordo told The Post. Losordo led the research team at Tufts University in Boston. Losorado said bone marrow “is like a repair kit. Nature provided us with these tools to repair organ damage.”

Several stem cell researchers welcomed the report in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, but some of them said embryonic research should continue.

The verification of such versatility and potency in adult bone marrow cells would be a major development in the battle over embryonic stem cells. Many scientists contend embryonic stem cells have more therapeutic potential than their adult counterparts, but most pro-life advocates oppose the use of embryonic cells because extracting them results in the destruction of the embryo.

The strength of the pro-embryonic lobby’s claims is not evident in the priorities of the multi-billion-dollar biotechnology industry, which has invested many times more in adult stem cell research. Also, embryonic stem cell research has experienced multiple failures, including the worsening of Parkinson’s symptoms in one human test group and a tendency to produce tumors in laboratory animals.

Research on stem cells from non-embryonic sources, however, has resulted in treatments for more than 40 ailments, including spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues. In addition to embryos, they may be found in such non-embryonic sources as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, fat and placentas.

JONI IN SUIT -– Well-known evangelical author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada is part of a group challenging the institution that California voters established in November to fund destructive embryonic stem cell research.

The suit, which was filed with the California Supreme Court, alleges Proposition 71 violates state law by exempting members of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine from some laws prohibiting government conflicts of interest, according to the Associated Press.

Prop 71 established the institute and authorized the sale of $300 million in bonds each year for a decade to fund the research. It has been estimated Californians will have to pay back $6 billion for 30 years for the bonds. The initiative not only supports embryonic stem cell research, but it permits the cloning of human embryos for research purposes, which also destroys the tiny human beings.

“People need to get the message that this proposition is an enormous expenditure of money in a financially strapped state for human embryo research that is increasingly seen as problematic and hypothetical,” Tada said, the AP reported.

Tada, who has been a quadriplegic since 1967, started Joni and Friends more than 25 years ago. Joni and Friends seeks to strengthen Christian ministry among the disabled.

The new nonprofit organization that filed suit against Prop 71 is Californians for Public Accountability and Ethical Science.

SURROGACY IN UTAH -– The Utah legislature has passed legislation legalizing surrogate motherhood.

If signed into law by Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., the bill would require a baby delivered by a surrogate to be linked genetically to at least one of the parents, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Only married Utah couples who are infertile may arrange for a surrogate. A surrogate cannot be on welfare, must have previously given birth and can receive “reasonable” pay, the Tribune reported.

The Senate approved the measure Feb. 18 with only one negative vote, two days after the House passed it by a much narrower margin.

According to the American Surrogacy Center Inc., seven other states recognize surrogate motherhood: Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Six states have criminalized paid surrogacy, while 29 have no laws regarding surrogacy.

INFANTICIDE IN KOREA -– A North Korean defector has confirmed what has long been reported about her country’s prison camps -– infanticide and abortion are practiced there.

The 28-year-old woman, whose real name was withheld, testified Feb. 14 at a human rights conference in Seoul, South Korea, about one case of infanticide.

“I heard the cries of both mother and children through the curtain,” she said, according to The Korea Herald, LifeSiteNews.com reported. “And through the partially open curtain, I witnessed the nurse covering the infant’s face with a wet towel on a table, suffocating it. The baby stopped crying about 10 minutes later.

“I heard that these kinds of acts were done before, but once I saw them with my eyes, I didn’t feel like living in the society again.”

The woman witnessed the incident at Shinuiju Provincial Detention Camp after she was captured in China following an escape attempt in 2000, according to the report. She successfully fled to South Korea in 2002.

Injections were the normal procedure used to induce premature delivery and produce a dead baby, she said.

North Korea is generally regarded as the world’s most closed country, with a communist regime often considered the most oppressive in the world.
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