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Bioethikos: Bringing Life to Bioethics

Archive for the ‘Reproductive ethics’ Category

 

Elective Abortions: Material for Research?

Monday, July 17th, 2017 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

By Guest Blogger Keegan D’Alfonso

There is an unintended irony in a recent study reported in the journal Nature on the immunology of fetuses in the womb. Researchers in Singapore studied tissue from 100 elective second-trimester abortions. In the process, they uncovered details of a fascinating mechanism that permits the immune system of a developing baby to develop, but not attack its mother. The irony lies in the fact that the scientists found such a way that babies can remain safe in the womb, even though these particular babies were aborted.

The study may help scientists to better understand certain types of miscarriages and a deadly immune response in premature babies, and may also help to treat autoimmune diseases in adults. With autoimmune diseases affecting an increasing number of people worldwide, this seems like a reasonable goal, but at what price?

The dilemma, of course, is that the research used tissue from elective late-term abortions. Was permission to study this tissue obtained before or after the procedure? Did the possibility of research on the “products of conception” give further incentives for the abortion itself?

Doctors have a duty to study ways to cure illnesses, but they also have a duty to protect the dignity of life. The debate on abortion aside, a human life, even an unborn one, should never be reduced to disposable parts. Where is the line between a doctor’s duty of care and his or her duty to protect life?

Research Report Summary

Center Challenges AAP Radical Pro-Abortion Stance

Monday, February 6th, 2017 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Ohio Right to Life recently asked us if we would join them in a letter critical of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a move we were happy to make. We signed the letter, along with other medical groups, to  urge the American Academy of Pediatrics to wind back its position that even teenagers have a clear right to abortion. The Academy’s position further contends that this is an unfettered right with no restrictions, no even  parental involvement. Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis said this:

In a sad twist, the Academy in fact harms children twice: First, the teen seeking the abortion; and second, the child who is the target of abortion. The statement appears to be first and foremost that of a political agenda. . .  [T]he modern-day American medical profession was founded with the intent of stamping out harmful practices like abortion—practices that contradict the physician’s duty to ‘First, do no harm.’ If the American Academy of Pediatrics is to honor that legacy and truly dedicate themselves to the health of all children, they will rescind this horrific polemic in favor of sound medical science.

 

What a distortion of parental duties — implying that we protect our adolescent children by allowing them to commit such an immoral act. We stand with Ohio Right to Life and other professional organizations that expose this as a lie.

Ohio Right to Life Press Release

Still Pushing the Limits with Abortion

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Month 7

(by guest blogger Dr. Mark Pinkerton)

It has been over a year since the shocking release of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives haggling over the price of fetal body parts. Despite those disclosures, the abortion industry continues some very questionable practices. According to a recent news report, a congressional committee sent a letter to the New Mexico attorney general. The letter detailed how the University of New Mexico provided whole aborted fetuses from an abortion clinic as dissection specimens for a high school summer camp. The news article went on to state, “the students dissected the babies and had no feelings for the babies.”

As a physician, I understand the importance of anatomical dissection. If this were a camp for teens aspiring to be physicians, dissecting would be very educational. Is a human fetus the best choice for this purpose? Prior to medical school, I dissected a piglet and a cat. Once I got to med school, we employed adult human specimens, but only with that person’s prior consent to donate. Our dissection lab started with a moment of silence to respect the life and personhood this body once contained. But the casual use of late-term fetuses for a high school camp seems callous.

Is this what happens after years of society teaching us that our life is a merely the product of natural evolution? Is this how life is treated if viewed without a soul? It is time for our society to return to treating one another, including the recently deceased, with respect. No matter your religion or politics, human dignity demands it.

Life News Article
Daily Wire Article

 

 

 

 

Health Care Conscience Bill Before Congress

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

health-care-md

The freedom of conscience in health care is now under attack more than ever. Nurses, doctors, and pharmacists are speaking up. From Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, an operating room nurse:

On May 24, 2009, the hospital where I work coerced me to assist in a 22-week abortion. My duties as a nurse included being present for the bloody dismemberment and accounting for body parts afterwards.

 

The employer threatened to fire the nurse if she did not go along with all this, despite her deeply-held religious beliefs (her beliefs had been previously identified to the hospital administration).

The modern environment in health care, based on a radical view of patient autonomy, wants to remove conscience and professionalism from medicine. If these efforts succeed, people of faith will not become healthcare providers, and the compassionate practice of medicine will erode.

S. 50, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, is currently before congress. It would protect any healthcare professional (doctor, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist) or clinical entity (hospital, clinic, medical practice) from retribution or negative consequences from exercising the right to abide by their personal conscience.

Be in prayer – support your lawmakers.

Cathy’s Story (YouTube)

Freedom 2 Care Website

 

Digging Deeper: Latest PP Video Does Further Damage

Friday, October 30th, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

baby_in_womb

Compounding the damage of earlier revelations, an 11th video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress. The covert interview features Dr. Amna Dermish, yet another abortionist working for Planned Parenthood, this time in Texas. I recently provided comments to the online news site The Blaze. Here’s an excerpt:

The problem with the 11th video from the Center for Medical Progress, according to Sullivan, is that the dialogue presented seems to show that doctors want to provide researchers with intact calvariums, or brains. To do this, he said they would not be able to use the aforementioned method, as it would destroy the tissue that they are looking to procure.

 

“So how do they insure that the fetus dies before delivery? In the video, Dr. Dermish clearly states that she does not use digitalis to stop the heart unless the fetus is 20 weeks or older,” Sullivan said. “So I’m left with the unavoidable conclusion that some of these fetuses are born alive, then killed after birth. If true, this is a clear violation of federal law.”

 

He continued, “Nonetheless, Dr. Dermish does not explicitly admit this.”

 

Now CMP does a bit of heavy-handed editing, going back and forth with an earlier interview to make the latest revelations seem even more disturbing. Nonetheless, we should not let the Planned Parenthood doctors off the hook for their unethical behavior. And we should not use our tax dollars fund this deeply flawed organization.

Read the full article in The Blaze here.

Fighting Over Frozen Lives

Monday, September 28th, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

8-cell_stage_embryo

The latest chapter in the embryo wars is in California, where a couple is engaged in a bitter custody dispute over the woman’s children, currently in the form of unimplanted frozen embryos. Dr. Mimi Lee and Steven Findley underwent in vitro fertilization when Dr. Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer, making pregnancy risky. She had planned to have a genetically-related child with the help of a surrogate mother. After three years, the couple divorced. Dr. Lee, now 46, would like to have her children. Her ex-husband disagrees.

The similar 1992 Davis v. Davis embryo case in Tennessee granted embryos “special status,” but nevertheless had them destroyed. Since that time, courts have tended to consider embryos as property rather than persons. But recent rulings in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Illinois have shown more sympathy towards women with cancer, who will not be able to have children biologically themselves. Dr. Mark Sauer, a reproductive endocrinologist, provides some clarity on the issue:

It is compelling and dramatic how these issues play out. These are embryos that will potentially live lives. It is not like you are bartering over the furniture in your house.

 

A decision in the case is likely within the next few weeks, and may set a new precedent.

News Article (LA Times)

The Plot Thickens: Newest PP Video is Revealing

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Month 7

The Center for Medical Progress has released its second video in a three-year investigative series into the actions of Planned Parenthood (PPFA) and the marketing of fetal body parts. Secretly recorded last February, two supposed research company purchasers talk with Dr. Mary Gatter, a senior PPFA official (CMP Video).

The conversation centers mostly around pricing, and how to modify the abortion technique to produce intact organs. This is very disturbing, and confirms that the first video (featuring Dr. Deborah Nucatolo) was no fluke. This apparently is “business as usual,” with the emphasis on business.

Why this is all so upsetting:

  • The description of second and third trimester abortions is graphic, and shows abortion for what it really is: legally sanctioned dismemberment of human beings.
  • The only issue for Dr. Gatter seems to be what kind of suction to utilize to better preserve intact organs. This is a medical conflict of interest: it’s not about women’s health, but about profiting from the sale of the body parts.
  • Through it all, Dr. Gatter haggles for the best price, even joking about buying a new Lamborghini (expensive sports car). She says, “Patients don’t care what we do, of course.” This just shows the cynical and callous true nature of PPFA (see my earlier blog about the “ugly underbelly” of abortion).

No, Planned Parenthood is not “pro-women,” as they claim. It is pro-business, and anti-life.

CMP Video

Center for Medical Progress

Video Reveals Ugly Underbelly of Abortion

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

baby_in_womb

By now you have probably seen the video (link), or excerpts from it. A hidden camera shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood senior director of medical services, sipping on wine and eating a salad while calmly discussing the removal of body parts from aborted fetuses in a way that maximizes their “value.” She blithely talks about obtaining “intact hearts,” lungs, “intact livers,” and even “lower extremities, that’s easy.” And all of this in a way that seems designed to reassure and impress the two research company “buyers” she’s having lunch with (actually two actors with a hidden video camera).

Pro-life advocates across the nation are understandably upset. It’s hard to count the number of groups that have expressed their outrage: National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, First Things, the National Review — I’m just getting started. In my state, the Ohio Attorney General has called for an investigation, along with AGs and governors throughout the country. I was interviewed for a piece in TheBlaze.com (article link).

In the midst of the shock and hype, we need to find some balance. Was Planned Parenthood really violating federal laws and selling body parts? Here are my reactions:

It’s cynical, crass, and callous, but it’s probably legal. Making donated human tissues available for research does not violate the law. Even the money discussed (“$30 to $100”) is not necessarily an issue, if that is just the cost for processing and / or shipping the specimens. On the other hand, Dr. Nucatola seems awfully interested in making her case to the supposed “buyers.” It may not actually be a business, but it sure looks like she was trying to make a “sale.”

 

I get really disturbed when she recommends that the procedure be done under ultrasound guidance, and suggests modifying the approach to better preserve the removed organs. This is a clear conflict of interest, where commercial concerns trump the care of the woman patient. Even pro-choice voices should condemn this afront to clinical ethics.

Then things take a turn for the worse, when the doctor actually suggests rotating the fetus away from a vertex (head-down) position, in order to better allow for dilation of the cervix so that the head can be delivered intact. This description comes perilously close to intact dilation and extraction, otherwise known as “partial-birth abortion,” now a felony for many years.

 

 

No matter how you look at it, the video provides an opportunity to see the procedure for what it really is: a brutal, degrading, horrific procedure that destroys a human life. This is the ugly underbelly of abortion.

 

 

Protecting Babies with Down Syndrome

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan
L to R: Dr. David Prentice, Edwin Vance (holding photos of son Justin who has Down syndrome), Stephanie Ranade Krider, Jackie Keough, Mary Kate Keough, and Dr. Dennis Sullivan

L to R: Dr. David Prentice, Edwin Vance (holding photos of son Justin who has Down syndrome), Stephanie Krider, Jackie Keough, Mary Kate Keough, and Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Last Tuesday evening, I presented testimony at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, representing the Center for Bioethics and Ohio Right to Life. I spoke before the Community and Family Advancement Committee in the Ohio House, in favor of H.B. 135, a statute to prohibit abortion solely because of a diagnosis on Down Syndrome. Here is an excerpt from my testimony:

It is highly relevant to our purposes today how we will protect the disadvantaged and vulnerable among us, and how we will prevent genetic discrimination among those who currently have no voice. Seven other states ban abortion for gender selection, and one other state bans abortion for genetic abnormalities. What we are proposing with this statute is rather simple: to protect unborn individuals with Down Syndrome from being killed simply because they have this condition. Anything else is discriminatory. Failure to protect these innocent unborn children is simply eugenics, and it is morally wrong.

 

Please communicate with your state legislators, to encourage them to support and pass H.B. 135, the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act (for my full testimony, click on the link below).

Sullivan HB 135 Testimony

Ohio Right to Life Press Release

PGD: Eugenics Is Not Dead

Monday, April 13th, 2015 by Dr. Heather Kuruvilla

EugenicsTreeLogo

by Dr. Heather Kuruvilla

There is no genetically perfect person.  Every one of us carries mutations, both genetic and epigenetic, in our genomes.  In the future, we may be able to repair these defects.  Gene therapies have shown promise in treating some types of cancer, and may eventually be used to treat or cure diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.  But right now, genetics is being used to discriminate against, and even destroy embryonic human beings.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is marketed as a way to help infertile couples conceive, and is usually done in embryos which have been created by in vitro fertilization.  According to the americanpregnancy.org website,

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis involves the following steps:

  1. First, one or two cells are removed from the embryo.
  2. The cells are then evaluated to determine if the inheritance of a problematic gene is present in the embryo.
  3. Once the PGD procedure has been performed and embryos free of genetic problems have been identified, the embryo will  be placed back in the uterus, and implantation will be attempted.
  4. Any additional embryos that are free of genetic problems may be frozen for later use while embryos with the problematic gene are destroyed.

 

In the future, we may be able to use such technologies to diagnose and repair genetic defects.  But at present, this technology is only used to destroy embryos, since we don’t yet have the capability to fix them.  Is this technology simply giving hope to infertile couples?  Or has eugenics reared its ugly head yet again?