WASHINGTON (BP)–Sen. Jim Talent, who stunned pro-life advocates in February by withdrawing his longstanding support for a federal ban on human cloning, has announced his opposition to a ballot initiative in his home state that would permit destructive embryonic stem cell research.
Talent, a Republican from Missouri, said May 1 he personally could not support the initiative because he has “always been opposed to human cloning, and this measure would make cloning human life at the earliest stage a constitutional right,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
He did not urge voters to oppose it, however, calling on them instead “to study the initiative carefully and make up their own minds on this very difficult moral issue,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
Supporters of the initiative, meanwhile, submitted nearly twice as many signatures as were needed to place it on the ballot in November. The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures turned in to the Missouri secretary of state’s office petitions with nearly 289,000 names on them, the newspaper reported. About 150,000 signatures were required, according to the report.
While Talent and other pro-lifers argue the ballot measure would protect human cloning, backers of the proposal deny it would do so. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, normally a pro-life supporter, has endorsed the initiative.
Cloning human embryos has been promoted as a means to produce more embryonic stem cells for research, thereby speeding up the work necessary to develop hoped-for therapies. Embryonic stem cell research, however, not only requires the destruction of a tiny human being when stem cells are extracted, but it has failed to produce any successful therapies in people. The research also has been plagued by the development of tumors in lab animals.
Talent announced Feb. 10 he would no longer co-sponsor the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, S. 658. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., would ban cloning for both research and reproductive purposes. Instead, Talent said he would promote a proposed form of technology that could produce embryonic-like stem cells without destroying embryos.
Without Talent, Brownback’s bill has 31 co-sponsors. All are Republicans except Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Brownback has been stymied in his attempts to ban all human cloning in recent years. Leading Democrats, and some veteran Republicans, have endorsed a measure that would prohibit only reproductive cloning.
Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions. Research using stem cells from non-embryonic sources –- such as bone marrow and umbilical cord blood — has produced treatments for at least 67 ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research.
HOPE IN HOUSTON –- Andrea Clark reportedly has a new doctor and new hope for recovery.
In information provided on ProLifeBlogs.com, Texas Right to Life reported Matthew Lenz, a doctor with privileges at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, took medical responsibility for the 54-year-old woman after a May 2 meeting of a treatment team at the medical facility. The transfer of Clark’s care to a new physician provides hope for her rehabilitation only days after it appeared the hospital would withdraw treatment.
The ethics committee of St. Luke’s approved April 19 a decision to terminate life support for Clark in 10 days. Clark, who had complications from heart surgery in November, has been dependent on a respirator but has maintained her brain function and ability to communicate, her family says.
Clark’s condition has quickly begun to improve, her family and Texas Right to Life said. Lenz hopes to help her improve enough to be transferred to another location for more rehabilitation, the pro-life organization reported.
“I’m so happy I don’t know what to think, or say, or do,” said Melanie Childers May 1 in an entry on ProLifeblogs.com. “Not only is my sister NOT going to be put to death by St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, but it also looks like she is RECOVERING from her heart surgery, finally.”
UNDERSTANDING ROE –- Only 29 percent of Americans understand the status of legalized abortion under the Roe v. Wade decision, according to a new public opinion survey.
The poll of 1,000 American adults released April 25 found barely more than one-fourth of the public was able to choose an accurate description of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, even though 65 percent said they were familiar with the opinion.
The Roe decision, combined with a companion ruling in Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortion for essentially any reason throughout all stages of pregnancy. The survey, which was conducted in mid-April by the polling company inc./Woman Trend, found the following breakdown of inaccurate descriptions of Roe:
— 18 percent said it made abortion legal only in the first three months.
— 17 percent said it legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
— 15 percent said it made abortion legal in the first and second trimesters.
The survey also revealed 54 percent of those polled supported one of three typical pro-life opinions: Abortion should be banned under all circumstances; abortion should be prohibited except when the mother’s life is threatened; and abortion should be outlawed except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life.
Just 41 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that expressed a pro-choice perspective.
The age group between 18 and 34 years was more pro-life than the respondents as a whole.
“These numbers show that our abortion laws don’t represent the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans, including American women,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a written release. “Roe is hanging by a thread that is increasingly being frayed by the American people’s exposure to the facts of abortion.”
Real Women’s Voices, a coalition of pro-life organizations, sponsored the survey.
NO CHANGE IN CHINA –- China is not planning to revise its one-child population control policy.
Zhang Weiqing, who supervises the National Population and Family Planning Commission, told Qiushi magazine the rule that bars more than one child in most families would continue to be enforced, Xinhua news agency reported.
China implemented the coercive family planning policy in 1973. Since then, the average birth rate has fallen from 5.8 per family to 1.8, according to Xinhua. Since 1984, rural couples have been allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl, Xinhua reported.
Beijing’s communist regime announced in December the enactment of a law calling for prison sentences for as many as three years and potentially heavy fines for doctors and other medical personnel who reveal the gender of unborn babies, thereby leading to the abortion of females, Reuters news service reported.
Sex-selection abortion is prohibited in the world’s most populous country, which has more than 1.3 billion people, but that has not prevented ultrasound technology from being used to detect female babies and abort them. The Chinese normally favor sons, since they are able to support their parents and to continue the family name.