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LIFE DIGEST: GOP senators urge Bush
to send pro-life warning to Congress


WASHINGTON (BP)–Thirty-four Republican senators want President George W. Bush to follow in his father’s footsteps by formally warning a Democratic-controlled Congress he will veto any attempt to undercut federal pro-life policies.

Joined by 33 of his 48 GOP colleagues, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas sent a letter to the White House Feb. 15 urging the president to write Congress a letter reaffirming his pro-life position.

“President Bush has shown that he is committed to protecting the dignity of every life, from the unborn to the elderly,” Brownback said in a written statement. “A letter sent to Congress from President Bush would be a powerful reminder that the United States is a country that is committed to protecting the dignity of human life.”

The senators’ letter said Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, sent such a message to a Democratic-controlled Congress in June 1991. Bush’s warning apparently stemmed some of the attacks against pro-life policies, the senators said in their letter.

“It seems that committee chairs were more successful in holding pro-abortion provisions at bay where there was a formal declaration that their legislation had no chance of enactment if it contained pro-abortion and other anti-life measures that weakened present law or regulations,” the senators wrote.

“Issuance of such a letter now would be timely and of tremendous value in our effort to ensure that no life-related policy is weakened during the 110th Congress.”


Joining Brownback in signing the letter to Bush were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, as well as Wayne Allard of Colorado; Robert Bennett and Orrin Hatch, both of Utah; Jim Bunning of Kentucky; Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both of Georgia; Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, both of Oklahoma; Norm Coleman of Minnesota; Bob Corker of Tennessee; John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both of Texas; Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, both of Idaho; Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both of South Carolina; Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina; Pete Domenici of New Mexico; John Ensign of Nevada; Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas, both of Wyoming; Charles Grassley of Iowa; Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; Jon Kyl and John McCain, both of Arizona; Trent Lott of Mississippi; Mel Martinez of Florida; Pat Roberts of Kansas; Jeff Sessions of Alabama; John Thune of South Dakota; David Vitter of Louisiana, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

One of Congress’ leading pro-life advocates, Brownback has announced his candidacy to succeed Bush, who signed several bills in his first six years as president that sought to protect unborn life.

The campaigns of other candidates for the 2008 GOP nomination also have made news recently:

— McCain said he was opposed to Roe v. Wade, telling a Spartanburg, S.C., audience Feb. 18 the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion “should be overturned,” according to the Associated Press. McCain has made conflicting statements on Roe in the past. In 1999, he said on more than one occasion he would not support striking down Roe.

— Ann Romney, the wife of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said she agreed with her husband’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research, even though she has multiple sclerosis. Some researchers contend the experimentation, which requires the destruction of a human embryo, could produce a cure for M.S. Only non-embryonic stem cell research, however, has resulted in therapies for M.S. so far.

“It is one of those life questions,” Romney said during the Feb. 14 telecast of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” according to The Boston Globe. “Is my life more important than a … child’s life? And I see it as a life that they would be experimenting on.”

EGGS FOR SALE — The British government is prepared to clear the way for women to sell their eggs for research.

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government’s regulative body of the reproductive field, is expected to endorse the policy when it meets Feb. 21, according to The Observer, a British newspaper. The current rule allows the donation of eggs for research only as a result of in vitro fertilization treatment or sterilization, the paper reported.

Egg donors will receive 250 British pounds, or nearly $490 at the current exchange rate, plus travel expenses, according to The Observer. Under the recommended policy, women will be required to demonstrate they are donating eggs with unselfish motives, the newspaper reported.

Pro-life organizations and some medical professionals oppose the sale of eggs for a variety of reasons. The stem cell research performed with the eggs results in the death of human embryos. Critics also say the extraction of the eggs can harm donors and commerce in egg donations can be coercive for poor women.

“The HFEA could be unwittingly opening the door to barter or sale of eggs, including women in Britain as well as abroad…. The sum of [250 pounds] would still be enough of an inducement for women from eastern Europe, for example, to come to Britain to sell their eggs. That’s clearly turning eggs into an object of trade, and that’s disturbing,” Donna Dickenson said, The Observer reported. Dickenson is emeritus professor of medical ethics and humanities at the University of London.

The controversy over egg donation for research purposes is being manifested in other countries as well. The South Korean government is expected to ban such donations later this year, according to The Korea Times.

In addition to researchers, infertile couples also seek egg donors. Representatives of couples seeking egg donors often target college students in the United States. A recent ad in some college newspapers offered $80,000 to tall, athletic, white females with high SAT scores, according to The Red and Black, a University of Georgia publication.

Stanford University student Calla Papademus found out the hard way how dangerous egg donation can be. She responded to an ad offering $50,000 but had a stroke when her eggs were harvested and was in a coma more than six weeks, according to ASSIST News Service.

“Young women assume when they go into a medical clinic to donate their eggs the clinic has their best interests at heart,” said Jennifer Lahl, founder of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, ASSIST reported. “But young women are not being informed of the risks. We’re playing with fire here.”

Women must receive injections of a strong drug to undergo ovarian hyperstimulation before donating their eggs. Italian scientists have warned the drugs could lead to paralysis, limb amputation and death, according to The Observer. The eggs are extracted by a 12-inch needle inserted into each ovary, a procedure that could produce infection or infertility, ASSIST reported.

DEADLY DOCTORS — Physicians afraid of dying are more likely to hasten the death of ill or disabled newborns, according to a new study.

A survey of nearly 80 neonatologists in Australia and New Zealand studied not only their treatment of sick or disabled infants but its connection to their view of death, according to icwales, a Welsh website. The doctors, who were not identified, filled out a Multidimensional Fear of Death Scale, which is designed to measure a person’s fear of dying.

Neonatologist Peter Barr, whose research was published Feb. 5 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said, according to the website, “Neonatologists with greater fear of the dying process and greater fear of premature death are more likely to accept hastening a newborn infant’s death when further treatment is non-beneficial or overly burdensome….”

The survey showed 32 percent of the doctors said they sometimes used sedatives to speed up death intentionally, icwales reported.

“Nobody has the right to kill another person on the basis of what they perceive to be their future quality of life,” said Margaret Tighe, president of Right to Life Victoria, according to The Age, a Melbourne, Australia, newspaper. “There have been tremendous advances made in caring for people with severe disabilities, and I think that doctors have a duty to do the best they can.”