New Scientific Evidence Supports Personhood Rights

This article written by SFLA National Field Director Brendan O’Morchoe was originally published on LifeSiteNews.com

identical-fraternal-sperm-eggA new article by Gonzalo Herranz, “The Timing of Monozygotic Twinning: A Criticism of the Common Model,” appears to deflate one of the most common science-based challenges to pro-life personhood philosophy. According to the theory that has been accepted for more than half a century, early human embryos have the ability to split, forming monozygotic (“identical”) twins, up to 14 days after fertilization. This is often used to challenge the pro-life contention that every human being is an individual, unique person from the moment of fertilization. It is argued that because of the possibility of twinning, there is no reason to suppose that an embryo is individual and unique, therefore the destruction of embryos younger than 14 days is morally permissible for elective and research reasons.

(Note: there are many flaws in the argument favoring the moral permissibility of destroying embryos that have been addressed by pro-life apologists.)

But according to Herranz, we shouldn’t be so quick to accept the theory that human embryos can “twin” up to 14 days after fertilization. First and foremost amongst Herranz’s points is that the scientific community has largely left this theory unchallenged since it first appeared in its complete form in 1955, never a good environment for scientific advancement. Herranz then lays out four challenges that the prevailing theory does not answer and a new hypothesis for when twinning occurs.

Herranz argues that the prevailing model does not satisfactorily explain the complex mechanisms involved in twinning and that the model is not based on facts, but on “apparently reasonable conjectures.” Further, there has been no observed confirmation of the MZ twinning model during IVF procedures and other assisted reproductive technologies. Herranz concludes that the model is “fragile and untenable” and therefore cannot be used to support biological or bioethical claims on issues related to the early embryo. (Please see the article for specific details of the weaknesses in the current model, according to Herranz.)

Herranz then offers a new theory on the timing and mechanism of monozygotic twinning for “discussion and critical evaluation.” The aspect of the theory relevant for pro-life advocates suggests that MZ twinning actually occurs during the first cell division, within 24 hours of fertilization. When the zygote splits, instead of forming two blastomeres, two distinct zygotes are formed, each then developing independently. This would mean that twinning is part of fertilization process, not an event that occurs post-fertilization.

This new hypothesis, while a long way from being verified, would only reaffirm what all pro-lifers know to be true, namely that from the moment of fertilization, there exists a new, individual, unique human being. It would scientifically undercut any argument that a human embryo is not individual or unique, wiping away many of the arguments for the moral permissibility of destroying human embryos.

And Then There Were Four….

In 2002, President George Bush signed the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act” to put an end to the barbaric practice of late term abortion. While this was the first real foothold achieved by pro-life advocates since abortion became legal, the practice still continues with four doctors who work their way around the law by killing the baby before it is technically born. Recent documentaries and news stories have tried to portray these so-called “doctors” as heroes of the abortion rights movement, but the fact still remains this procedure is infanticide and runs counter to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. The BBC recently ran an story trying to humanize these so-called “doctors” by painting them as courageous warriors of compassionate care. Anyone with a conscience knows this is the furthest thing from the truth.

Doctors providing abortion services at any stage of pregnancy have been steadily declining over the last forty years as medical science and public outcry have exposed the abortion procedure as violently ending a human life. Still, abortion advocates are trying to circle the wagons to make their last stand before the entire abortion industry collapses. The following article is an example of the great depths abortion advocates are sinking to justify their medical malpractice.

After Tiller: America’s four late-term abortion doctors

BBC January 30th 2013

Just four doctors provide late-term abortions in the US. They are the subject of a new documentary that chronicles their work.

Only one movie at last week’s Sundance Film Festival was so heavily guarded that the premiere required armed security and metal detectors.

But the stringent measures were not imposed to protect A-list celebrities, or the high-priced jewelry they sometimes wear to red-carpet events.

Instead, the ring of steel was there to ensure the safety of LeRoy Carhart, Warren Hern, Susan Robinson and Shelley Sella.

They are the four doctors who feature in After Tiller, the documentary by filmmakers Lana Wilson and Martha Shane.

“Start Quote

If not us, who will do it? At the end of the day, it is about healthcare. We are providing a service to women”

LeRoy Carhart

George Tiller, one of the most prominent abortion doctors in the US, was assassinated in 2009 while worshiping at his local Kansas church with his family.

In the wake of Tiller’s death, filmmaker Wilson found herself confounded by its irony – a man being killed in church by a religious zealot – and struck by the doctor’s dedication.

“Why on earth would someone risk so much for so little reward?” she asked.

“I wondered who was left to carry out third-trimester abortions, his specialism, now he was gone.”

Before his death, Tiller trained the four remaining doctors.

They are now scattered across the country – 71-year-old Carhart in Maryland, 74-year-old Hern in Colorado, and Robinson and Sella, both in their 60s, working out of the same clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Read More About these Monsters of Medicine

 

Dr. Toffler Speaks on Conscience Rights and Medical Ethics at Dartmouth

During our Fall 2012 Medical Students for Life tour, we were privileged to facilitate a lecture at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, founded in 1797. Dr. William Toffler of Oregon Health Sciences University spoke on the issue of pro-life medical ethics and conscience rights. Well over 50 medical students attended the lecture. Here is the lecture in it’s entirety:

Pro-life Med Fellowship Program Now Accepting Applications

Medical Students for Life (MedSFL) is proud to announce our 2nd MedSFL Summer Fellowship June 17th through July 19th. This opportunity is open to all medical students prior to the beginning their second year. Ten selected students will have the opportunity to participate in a week-long didactic lecture series in Washington, D.C. presented by top medical professionals, researchers, and legal experts. Transportation, food and lodging costs for the week-long course will be provided.

Following the week-long didactic lecture series, each student will complete a 4- week externship in their related fields that meets the program qualifications. Fellows will receive a stipend to offset living expenses incurred during the externship. At the end of the 4-week externship, students will gather again for a research conference to present a translational bioethics research paper created during their externship under their respective mentor. Externs will be coached to prepare manuscripts for a peer-reviewed medical journal publication.

Qualified Rotations will include those which: (1) are with a board-certified medical professional or researcher with appropriate credentials in good standing, (2) are with mentors accepted as Externship Mentors by the MedSFLA program (a list of qualified mentors will be provided following submission of a student’s CV), (3) allow students to produce and present a research paper at the closing research conference.

1st Application Step: Students must submit a cover letter and CV no later than January 25th to the Admissions Board Liaison (jrussell@studentsforlife.org). If you are selected as a potential candidate a tentative acceptance letter, approved Externship Mentors list to choose from the mentors they wish to study under, and a formal application will be provided.

2nd Application Step: Students must submit their completed application forms (along with externship mentor selections) to the Admissions Board Liaison (jrussell@studentsforlife.org) by January 29th. Students will be notified of final decisions by January 31st. After a final decision has been reached, a formal acceptance letter will be issued.

 

 

Now Accepting Applications for 2013 Summer Med Fellowship Program

Medical Students for Life (MedSFL) is proud to announce our 2nd MedSFL Summer Fellowship June 17th through July 19th. This opportunity is open to all medical students prior to the beginning their second year. Ten selected students will have the opportunity to participate in a week-long didactic lecture series in Washington, D.C. presented by top medical professionals, researchers, and legal experts. Transportation, food and lodging costs for the week-long course will be provided.

Following the week-long didactic lecture series, each student will complete a 4- week externship in their related fields that meets the program qualifications. Fellows will receive a stipend to offset living expenses incurred during the externship. At the end of the 4-week externship, students will gather again for a research conference to present a translational bioethics research paper created during their externship under their respective mentor. Externs will be coached to prepare manuscripts for a peer-reviewed medical journal publication.

Qualified Rotations will include those which: (1) are with a board-certified medical professional or researcher with appropriate credentials in good standing, (2) are with mentors accepted as Externship Mentors by the MedSFLA program (a list of qualified mentors will be provided following submission of a student’s CV), (3) allow students to produce and present a research paper at the closing research conference.

1st Application Step: Students must submit a cover letter and CV no later than January 25th to the Admissions Board Liaison (jrussell@studentsforlife.org). If you are selected as a potential candidate a tentative acceptance letter, approved Externship Mentors list to choose from the mentors they wish to study under, and a formal application will be provided.

2nd Application Step: Students must submit their completed application forms (along with externship mentor selections) to the Admissions Board Liaison (jrussell@studentsforlife.org) by January 29th. Students will be notified of final decisions by January 31st. After a final decision has been reached, a formal acceptance letter will be issued.

Planning for the Spring? Resources are now available for your Medical Group!

Did you know Medical Students for Life of America provides your medical group with medically accurate pro-life resources for your school year? We are proud to announce free online resources for your group at our Med Students for Life website.  We know you are busy with medical school and we are here to help your group educate your peers and grow.

Under the med resources tab you will find:

  • Medically accurate flyers on issues such as Perinatal Hospice, Conscience Rights, Fetal Development.
  • Print off our Local Medical Resource Sheet for Medical students in their 3rd and 4thyear so you can refer your patients to prolife physicians and resources
  • We also offer free webcast you can share with your group members on relevant issues facing med students.
  • Need help planning your school year for your Med group? Check out our calendars with event ideas and identified medical awareness months.
  • We also offer references to pro-life peer-reviewed articles in our online library to help you with research for your papers

We are here to serve you and to help you excel in your education. Please let us know if you have any other resource ideas you have for your school year. Check back often as we will be increasing the number of free resources available to you.

 

Abortion Referrals as Compassionate Care?

By: Jon Russell, National Coordinator for Medical Students for Life

I was recently contacted by an OBGYN wanting to get involved with Medical Students for Life as a mentor or speaker. The doctor was very delightful and you could tell by her voice she had a passion for life, but there was something not settling right with me.

You see, in the initial discussion we had over email, she shared her passion for the pro-life cause and wanted to share her pro-life views with others. She further explained that on occasion she referred some of her patients to a “safe” abortion clinic!?!…….Yes that alarm bell going off in your head was exactly what I heard.

During our phone conversation, I asked about her claim of being pro-life and yet referring her patients for abortion. She asked what else she was supposed to do for her patients asking for abortion services. I gently challenged her by saying, she was not practicing as a pro-life physician nor was it consistent with her Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Though she thought she was being compassionate, she was the primary care provider to both the mother and the growing fetus inside her. If she sends her patients to the abortion clinic, one or maybe both are not coming back to her clinic for a follow-up visit because one or both of them would be dead from the abortion. Referring patients for abortion is lethal and uncompassionate to both patients.

I also compared abortion referrals to the blacksmith who was asked to fix slave chains for a slave owner in the early 1800’s. The blacksmith was against slavery and had to say no to the slave owner and refused to refer the slave owner to another blacksmith.

Refusing to refer for abortion is the compassionate thing to do for your patient. The physician’s role is to heal illness, alleviate suffering, and provide comfort. Not to assist in taking a life.

I believe this doctor was divinely inspired to contact Medical Students for Life and to be challenged on her practice. I believe fully that our conversation was a new starting point for her. Please pray for doctors across the country to live out their convictions fully without compromise.

Join Us For A Webcast This Tuesday: What are your alternatives to prescribing contraceptives?

Join us for a national webcast on Tuesday, November 27th at 9:00 PM EST to hear Dr. Marguerite Duane discuss all the options available to physicians when counseling patients on family planning options.

As medical students you will one day be asked to prescribe birth control pills. Do you have all of your options? Do you know there are alternatives?

Fertility is a normal, healthy physiologic state.  Women’s hormonal cycles determine the fertile window when a couple will most likely conceive.  An understanding of the cycle and recognition of the external signs that determine each phase has led to the development of more environmentally friendly and highly effective forms of family planning.  Despite these advances, there is limited information about fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) being taught in medical school and residency and the majority of health professionals are trained to approach fertility as a disease state.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to describe the scientific basis for different types of FABMs and discuss the evidence supporting the effectiveness of these methods to both avoid and achieve pregnancy.  Participants will also be able to list the basic characteristics of the different methods to determine the appropriate population for use.  Finally, we will briefly introduce the participants to FACTS – the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Systems – a dedicated group of physicians and other health professionals committed to teaching our colleagues about fertility awareness based methods of family planning.

If you are having trouble with the webcast join online here:  http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=35177088

Battle Over Mentally Disabled Woman’s Pregnancy

KOLO TV Reporter: Kendra Kostelecky

RENO, NV – A hearing taking place in a Washoe County courtroom is getting national attention. The legal guardians of a mentally disabled pregnant woman are claiming the court wants to force her to have an abortion against her will. As you can imagine this case has tempers flaring, not just as an issue of choice, but civil rights.

Family Court Judge Egan Walker has asked KOLO 8 News Now not to identify the woman at the center of this case out of respect for her privacy. He also expressed concerned that she could become the target of predators in the future if her image was made public. That woman is 32-years-old, but has the mental capacity of a five to seven-year-old. In addition she has a number of physical disabilities related to fetal alcohol syndrome including epilepsy and bipolar disorder for which she takes medication.

One of the unanswered questions before the court is how she got pregnant. She currently lives in a group home and according to testimony she’s been known to disappear for hours or days, sometimes having sex with men at a local truck stop. It’s not known if her pregnancy is voluntarily or the result of rape. It’s also unclear, based on what we heard in court Thursday, whether she wants to keep her child. Her adopted parents, who are also her legal guardians are clearly in favor of that choice.

Representatives for the Washoe County Public Guardian’s office say they never requested an abortion. As a matter of procedure, they requested an investigation into her medical, psychiatric and psychological condition only after her doctor notified the County his patient was pregnant, and her guardians had failed to submit required annual reports. That investigation will also review the appropriateness of her placement in a group home.

Meanwhile, the court heard differing opinions from local doctors. Based on the medications, physical condition, and choices of the mother they were asked if it would be safe for her to carry to term. One expert testifying that there are significant risks for both mother and child. Another doctor argued that all pregnancies and terminations are inherently risky. He also recommended a Caesarean section based on the mother’s mental state.

There is some urgency in this case. The court racing to examine the best options before the mother passes her first trimester when risk factors will increase. She is now 11 weeks into the pregnancy. Still the question remains – if the mother chooses to keep her child regardless of the facts presented, can the court order her to terminate the pregnancy?

Read More Here

LR-120 would require that doctors notify parents at least 48 hours in advance of the abortion

By Kyle Schmauch Community News Service UM School of Journalism October 14, 2012 4:00 pm Click here for full story.

Seventeen years after the courts struck down an early attempt to require minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion, the contentious issue is back on the ballot this fall.

Legislative Referendum 120 is almost exactly like a 1995 law struck down by a Montana court as violating the Montana Constitution — with one key change.

“The difference is that the age is lower,” Jeff Laszloffy, head of the Montana Family Foundation, said, explaining the referendum would apply only to minors under 16. The previous law applied to girls under 18.

LR-120 would require that doctors notify parents or legal guardians at least 48 hours in advance of the abortion if the patient is under 16. If the minor does not want the notification to occur, she can obtain a waiver from a youth court. Notice would not be required in the case of a medical emergency.

Under the proposal, any doctor who fails to notify the parent or receive a waiver could face six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Debate over impacts

Both proponents and opponents of the referendum say their primary concern is the health and safety of young women, but they disagree over the proposed law’s impacts.

For Laszloffy, the proposal is about ensuring parents know what is happening in their family. He said LR-120 is “primarily a parental rights issue.”

He added that far less significant decisions like getting a tattoo or body piercing require parental consent ̶ a stricter requirement than notification.

“(Abortion) is the only exception where a 13-year-old can make this type of decision,” he said. “This is what happens when political correctness trumps common sense.”

But Julianna Crowley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, stressed the proposal would put vulnerable girls in harm’s way. “It’s about privacy and it’s about abortion rights,” she said.

Planned Parenthood of Montana, which opposes the ballot initiative, estimates that 80 percent of minors already tell parents or guardians about their pregnancies.

“(A notification law) puts young women who can’t go to their parents in dangerous situations,” Crowley said. “For voters, think about teens who they know may fear a violent reaction from their parents.”

Laszloffy countered that he was also concerned about a girl who faces possible violence or abuse at home.

“If she has a dangerous home situation … this (working through a youth court) is a way she could actually end the abuse.” He also said it is dangerous for parents not to know when their child has gone through a medical procedure.

Both sides acknowledge the referendum would affect only a few Montana teens each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 43 reported abortions occurred among teens ages 15 and under in Montana in 2008 (the most recent year available).

Déjà vu?

Thirty-seven other states have some version of a parental notification law on their books, but Montana has been here before.

In 1995, Montana’s Legislature adopted a parental notification measure. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Parental Notice of Abortion Act was constitutional under the United States Constitution.

However, a state district court ruled that law unconstitutional under the equal protection and privacy clauses of the Montana Constitution.

Crowley said LR-120 would raise the same legal concerns as that case. Laszloffy acknowledged that while the PNAA was thrown out as unconstitutional, lowering the age of girls covered by the law helped address the issue.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer decided differently last year when he vetoed the same legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The governor made note of the lower age of affected minors, but declared in his veto letter: “Given the strength of the 1995 … decision rejecting as unconstitutional an almost identical parental notice law, and a subsequent decision of the Montana Supreme Court solidifying Montana’s strong privacy provisions not only generally, but specifically in the abortion context … , I have chosen to veto SB 97.”

If the voters approve the new notification language, many observers expect an immediate and perhaps protracted legal fight over the issue.