Thursday, July 20, 2006



July 18, 2006 08:23 PM EST

The Senate on Tuesday debated three important bills: Castle-DeGette, which expands federal funding for stem-cell research that kills human embryos; Santorum-Specter, which funds new research that uses the latest techniques to obtain embryonic-like stem cells without actually destroying embryos; and Brownback-Santorum, which would ban "fetal farming" or the practice of growing human fetuses for the purpose of using their body parts.

All three of these bills ask the fundamental question: What kind of people are we?

Americans are a people whose founding document promises that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In the 1970s, a great exception was made. The Supreme Court declared that abortion was a constitutional right. Because science could not tell us when human life begins (the court argued), women had a right to control their own bodies: "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins," Justice Blackmun wrote for the majority. "When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."

Castle-DeGette, authorizing federal funding for research that requires killing nascent human lives, marks a great culture change: Taxpayer funding means the federal government, instead of expressing agnosticism about when human life begins, as Roe did, will come firmly down on the side of those who think nascent human life is merely a clump of cells. If killing it might yield scientific progress, then human life has no moral rights at all. The once sacred right to take human life, once a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor, has morphed into the right of any scientist in consultation with his lab partner -- at taxpayer expense.

If we have a choice, why not bet on techniques that don't involve killing? For many Democrats (and some Republicans), however, establishing the right to destroy human embryos appears to be more important than bridging divisive issues in the interest of scientific progress. It's amazing how blatantly and publicly some Democrats play politics with human life itself: "This will be one of the major issues of the campaign, and it is going to allow us to win voters we have not won before," announced Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

Meanwhile, the science gallops onward. Virtually every week there are new reports like this one from the University of Pennsylvania: "Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have isolated a new source of adult stem cells that appear to have the potential to differentiate into several cell types. ... It could one day provide the tissue needed by an individual for treating a host of disorders, including peripheral nerve disease, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury."

Some people tell you that we have to choose between science and humane values. President Bush (who has promised to veto) saw and said otherwise in his State of the Union Address this year:

"A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research -- human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling or patenting human embryos."

This week, the president is likely to get his wish. All three bills are expected to pass the Senate. And President Bush has promised to veto federal funding for stem cell research that destroys human life -- his first veto ever. "Human life is a gift from our creator," President Bush said in January, "and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale."

(Readers may reach Maggie Gallagher at" class="charles1">


Wednesday, July 19, 2006



WASHINGTON, DC - The following is Congressman Mike Pence's statement today made in advance of a Senate vote that would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"We gather today in respectful opposition to the Castle-DeGette bill: A bill that authorizes the use of federal tax dollars to fund the destruction of human embryos for scientific research.

"Assuming H.R. 810 passes the Senate today, on behalf of millions of pro-life Americans, we say, Mr. President, veto this bill.

"As we begin this debate, I am confident that we will hear the supporters of this bill argue in the name of Ronald Reagan that this research is consistent with his long-held views about the sanctity of life. But it was Ronald Reagan who wrote, 'we cannot diminish the value of one category of human life-the unborn-without diminishing the value of all human life.'

"The supporters will also argue that this is a debate between science and ideology...that destroying human embryos for research is necessary to cure a whole host of maladies from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson's.

"But the facts suggest otherwise. To date, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single medical treatment, where ethical, adult stem cell research has produced some 67 medical miracles. Physicians on our side will make the case for the ethical alternative of adult stem cell research and Congress today will greatly expand funding in this area.

"But the debate over the legitimacy or potential of embryonic stem cells is actually not the point of this debate.

"We are here simply to decide whether Congress should take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund the destruction of human embryos for research.

"This debate is really not about whether embryonic stem cell research should be legal. Sadly, embryonic stem cell research is completely legal in this country and has been going on at universities and research facilities for years.

"The proponents of this legislation don't just want to be able to do embryonic research. They want me to pay for it and like 43 percent of the American people in a survey out today, I have a problem with that.

"You see, I believe that life begins at conception and that a human embryo is human life. I believe it is morally wrong to create human life to destroy it for research. And I believe it is morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans, who believe that human life is sacred, and use it to fund the destruction of human embryos for research.

"This debate, then, is not really about what an embryo is. This debate is about who we are as a nation. Not, will we respect the sanctity of human life but will we respect the deeply held moral beliefs of nearly half of the people of this nation who find the destruction of human embryos for scientific research to be morally wrong?

"Despite what may be uttered in this debate today, I say again: This debate is not about whether we should allow research that involves the destruction of human embryos. This debate is about who pays for it.

"And it is my fervent hope and prayer, as we stand at the crossroads between science and the sanctity of life, that we will choose life.

"This morning on Capitol Hill I am surrounded by dozens of 'snowflake babies,' children born from frozen embryos...the 'throwaway' material we will hear about today. As I speak over the cries and cooing of those little fragile lives, I can't help but think of the ancient text about the choice we face today: 'I have set before you life and earth, blessings and curses, now choose life so that you and your children may live' (Dueteronomy 30:19).

"Let us do as Americans have always done in the face of the frail and vulnerable. Let us choose life, reject federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, that we and these precious children may live."

Please call President George W. Bush at: 202-456-1414 and tell him to veto this bill. Or email him at

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Man Comatose for 20 Years Regains Speech, Movement as Brain Rewires

Man Comatose for 20 Years Regains Speech, Movement as Brain Rewires

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 4, 2006

Mountain View, AR ( -- A man who was in a coma for 20 years has awaken from it and regained his speech and movement capabilities as his brain has rewired itself by growing new connections from those that were severed in an automobile accident. Terry Wallis is one of a few people to make such a dramatic recovery after a prolonged coma.

Wallis speaks in a slurred but coherent voice, telling visitors "Glad to be met" and telling them of his brother's plans to light fireworks today at his house nearby.

For his family, each word is a miracle. Wallis began recovering from the coma in June 2003, as national controversy about an incapacitated woman, Terri Schiavo, began to develop.

Wallis' first word was "Mom" and he has been speaking more and improving his speech ever since. He can now count to 25 uninterrupted.

Researchers published a paper this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation about Wallis' story and say that his case provides strong evidence that the brain heals itself by forming new neural connections. The article includes images of Mr. Wallis' brain, the first ones to be taken from a recovering comatose patient.

"We read about these widely publicized cases of miraculous recovery every few years, but none of them, not one, has ever been followed up scientifically until now," said Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan and the senior author of the new study.

"In essence, Terry's brain may have been seeking out new pathways to reestablish functional connections to areas involved in speech and motor control to compensate for those lost due to damage," he explained.

The paper appears to suggest that Wallis did not make a sudden recovery three years ago, but his awakening from the coma was the result of years of nerves regrowing and healing themselves.

Despite the recovery, Wallis has complete amnesia about the 20 years he missed, when he was barely conscious and communicated only through nods and grunts, according to an AP report.

"He still thinks Ronald Reagan is president," his father, Jerry, said in a statement. Jerry indicated Wallis thought he was still 20 years old until recently.

Jerry said Wallis often makes jokes like he did before the accident and frequently indicated he is happy to be alive -- a sign that euthanizing him like Terri Schiavo was killed would have denied Wallis a second chance at life.

"That was something he wasn't able to do early in his recovery," Jerry Wallis said. "He now seems almost exactly like his old self. And he very often tells us how glad he is to be alive."

Schiff said researchers compared brain scans of Wallis to that of 18 healthy people and another minimally conscious person who had been in that state for six years.

In Wallis' brain, "what we first see is how overwhelmingly severe this injury was, Schiff told AP, saying he had many abnormalities compared to healthy people.

A second set of images taken 18 months later showed new neural connections forming and growing and in areas of the brain that regulate movement and speech.