Medicine Archives

That’s right, the guy whom the Left said hated black people. The evangelical community, along with Bono, lobbied for it, and Dubya did it. It’s not something that’s mentioned often, but…

"This should be shouted from the rooftops. This is a heroic American story," Bono said in a remarkable radio interview with Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, to be broadcast by the group Tuesday.

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    The Life of the Mother

    Rape, incest, or the life of the mother; these are typically the three reasons under which almost everyone would say that an abortion should be permissible. Well, an international symposium on maternal healthcare in Dublin, Ireland last weekend may reduce that number.

    About 140 medical professionals were at the event, including experts in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and molecular biology. They presented new research on issues surrounding maternal healthcare, with a focus on high-risk pregnancies, cancer in pregnancy, foetal anomalies, mental health and maternal mortality.

    Prof O’Dwyer and a panel of speakers also formally agreed a “Dublin declaration” on maternal healthcare. It stated: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

    “We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

    There is that one caveat in that statement. In the course of other medical treatments required to save the mother’s life, if the baby dies, that is understandable. That could happen. And in a separate statement, the chairman of the group sponsoring the symposium stated it another way; no treatment should ever be withheld from a woman if she needed it to save her life, even if that treatment resulted in the loss of life of her unborn child.

    But the symposium did say that an abortion, by itself, is never medically necessary to save her.

    “Never”. That’s a pretty strong word coming from experts in their fields. But that’s what they said. And now the question is; will that have an effect on the abortion debate in this country? It ought to; this is a huge statement from people in the field who would know. But I haven’t heard it covered much in this country, which is a big reason I’m covering here, for whoever will listen.

    It ought to change the debate in some way. I hope it will.

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      The Normalization of Pedophilia

      In  my most recent episode of the "Consider This!" podcast, I discussed how polygamy is beginning to get mainstreamed, with major newspapers asking the question; why is 2 some magic number for marriage? Why not "three, four, or 17"?

      The website Gawker is now giving press (and rather disturbing press, frankly; the beginning of the article is not for the squeamish) to guys like Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem (pronounced HI-sheh-hem), who is retired from the University of Montreal, and who testified before the Canadian Parliament’s "Committee on Justice and Human Rights." In part, he said:

      [I]t is a fact that real pedophiles account for only 20 percent of sexual abusers. If we know that pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offence from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality, and if we agree on the fact that true pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation, everyone knows that there is no such thing as real therapy. You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation.

      And if they’re "born this way" (to steal from a Lady Gaga song title), who are we to judge? I’m not saying that some of the things done to pedophiles is justified (the harassment they receive), because we are to love the thief, the murderer and the pedophile as Christ would love them. I completely denounce harassment, but words mean things, and this is a big step in the cultural normalization process.

      At the moment, there is still some sanity on the subject. One group in Germany attempting to counsel pedophiles uses the phrase, "You are not guilty because of your sexual desire, but you are responsible for your sexual behavior. There is help." This is true of all of us. We all have our weak points of temptation, but it’s how we act (and, as Jesus pointed out, how we fantasize) that is the problem.

      However, consider how homosexuality was viewed just a generation ago and how it’s been so normalized that some states allow same-sex marriage. The biggest argument that the homosexual crowd put forth was that this was something in their genes, and therefore was nothing more than being left-handed or blue-eyed. If we consider pedophilia just another sexual orientation, then, while the act may still be frowned upon for the moment, the foundation has already been laid to normalize pedophilia.

      Now, I know slippery slope arguments can be…well, slippery. They involve a bit of prediction. If A happens, B will happen next. It’s easy to dismiss these sorts of arguments are mere guesses. However, when initial predictions become true, and when you have so much history to look at and see that it has been indeed happening, it’s time to take the arguments more seriously. I am very supportive of efforts to counsel pedophiles before they act on their thoughts. However, the change in terminology can and does change the culture and the views. Whether or not Dr. Van Gijseghem means it to, this change can easily be taken up by others to slip us further down the slope to … well, who knows where.

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        Turning Blood Cells Into Stem Cells

        The ability to make what are called "induced-pluripotent stem cells" (iPS) has been done before. What’s new now is that making them is becoming easier.

        Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a reliable method to turn the clock back on blood cells, restoring them to a primitive stem cell state from which they can then develop into any other type of cell in the body.

        The work, described in the Aug. 8 issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), is "Chapter Two" in an ongoing effort to efficiently and consistently convert adult blood cells into stem cells that are highly qualified for clinical and research use in place of human embryonic stem cells, says Elias Zambidis, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of oncology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and the Kimmel Cancer Center.

        "Taking a cell from an adult and converting it all the way back to the way it was when that person was a 6-day-old embryo creates a completely new biology toward our understanding of how cells age and what happens when things go wrong, as in cancer development," Zambidis says.

        "Chapter One," Zambidis says, was work described last spring in PLoS One in which Zambidis and colleagues recounted the use of this successful method of safely transforming adult blood cells into heart cells. In the latest experiments, he and his colleagues now describe methods for coaxing adult blood cells to become so-called induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPS) — adult cells reprogrammed to an embryonic like state, and with unprecedented efficiencies.

        Zambidis says his team has managed to develop a "super efficient, virus-free" way to make iPS cells, overcoming a persistent difficulty for scientists working with these cells in the laboratory. Generally, out of hundreds of blood cells, only one or two might turn into iPS cells. Using Zambidis’ method, 50 to 60 percent of blood cells were engineered into iPS cells.

        Click here for other stem cell stories that we’ve covered. The idea that embryonic stem cells are a must-have for research is a myth.

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          Friday Link Wrap-up

          Yeah, haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working on another side project that may or may not pan out. We’ll see. In the meantime, it’s time to play some catch-up on the wrap-up.

          No, I don’t believe Obama was born in Kenya, but he certainly let that image get out years ago, and only recently stopped that. As late as 2004, even the Associated Press was referring to "Kenyan-born" Barack Obama. Laugh all you want at the birthers, but they at least had this sort of thing to back them up (for a while).

          The Family Research Council has a count of the number of states that have legislated against same-sex marriage. Depending on how you choose what kind of legislation (law, constitutional amendment, etc.), the number changes, but here’s the biggie. "Number of states which currently (May 2012) grant marriage licenses only for unions of one man and one woman:   44" Remember that when you see polls about what people supposedly think about it.

          And don’t try to press Martin Luther King into service to that particular cause. He followed his religion in this regard.

          “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.” Their words.

          Civility Watch: "Union Leader Takes Bat to Pinata Depicting Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.)"

          Michael J. Fox realizes that stem cells, as good as they are, were never some magic cure-all.

          Advances in the war:

          A record-low 41 percent now identify themselves as “pro-choice,” down from 47 percent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 percent, set in May 2009. As recently as 2006, 51 percent of Americans described themselves as “pro-choice.”

          And speaking of the war, the actual, physical war on women by Planned Parenthood gets exposed by hidden camera videos. Predictably, the media yawns.

          Further, "Congressional Black Caucus Upset By Pro-Life Black Americans". Those tolerant folks.

          The Washington Post took 20 years to realize that Dan Quayle’s argument against the TV show Murphy Brown was right. It took Candace Bergen 10 years herself. And of course some of us knew that from the beginning.

          And finally, oh, that liberal media.

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            No, US Health Care Isn’t Broken

            I’ve heard these statistics elsewhere, but not all in one place. So here’s an article doing just that. It tackles the myths about health care in the United States that ObamaCare was so necessary to fix.

            • The U.S. spends too much compared to other countries.
            • Other countries are doing better at controlling health spending growth.
            • The U.S. has abysmal infant mortality rates.
            • The U.S. has abysmal average life expectancy.
            • The U.S. has worse health outcomes.

            The stats have been manipulated to make the US sound far worse than it really it. In most cases its standing is better rather than worse, and in the rest it on par, if slightly lower, than other countries when comparing apples to apples. And in one case — life expectancy — the numbers used include issues that don’t relate to health care at all.

            Read the whole thing. (It’s short.)

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              Could Stem Cells Become Moot?

              Medical technology is reducing the need for stem cells.

              In the laboratory skin cells were treated with a virus, which was modified to ‘infect’ them with agents that function to convert the skin cells into precursors to brain cells. These cells can specialise into the three types of brain cell: neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. After laboratory research was carried out, the converted cells were injected into the brains of mice. These mice were bred to lack the protein myelin, which is important in aiding the transmission of messages in the brain. 10 weeks later, the precursor cells had specialised into oligodendrocytes, which made the myelin that the mice lacked.

              Skin cells directly to brain cells, do not pass Go, do not create ethical issues. (And creating myelin, which is something that someone like me with MS raises their antennae over.)

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                The Ethics of "After-birth Abortions", Part 2

                [Please click here for part 1, as this just picks up where that left off. Also, another blogger found the article again at a new URL on the same site. I'd searched using their advance search form with no success, but glad that it's back so people can read the whole thing.]

                The newborn and the fetus are morally equivalent

                The authors, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva,  start this section with their definition of personhood.

                Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

                Thus, to be a person, you have to know you’re a person and be able to value it. The state of not knowing, however, lasts quite a bit beyond newborn status. The authors, again, fail to address this. More than fail to, actually, they refuse to address it, as we shall see.

                Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.

                The equivalence here is somewhat flawed, not the least because they start to blur the moral right to life with the legal right to life. Further, they equate giving up your legal right to life (by, for example, murdering someone else) with a fetus or embryo being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Depending on your morals, all three examples have a moral right to life, it’s just in the last case it was actively forfeited.

                Read the rest of this entry

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                  The Ethics of "After-birth Abortions", Part 1

                  Last Friday, I noted in my Friday Link Wrap-up "Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are ‘not persons’ and can ethically be "aborted". I also posted this article on Facebook, and one of my friends took me to task on it. He said that "sloppy agenda laden journalism" has misinterpreted their intent, and that "the researchers are attempting to provoke debate on the ethics of abortion, not the desirability to kill newborns."

                  I’ve read the whole piece by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, and I come to the conclusion that, while their stated intent may not be to suggest that it is desirable to kill newborns, the result will be the same. The main problem I see is that, while they have their personal moral stances regarding how often and in what circumstances what they call "after-birth abortions" would take place, their stances would not be what others use to make their determination. Would they accept a gun manufacturer’s statement that "I don’t intend my product to kill innocent people"? Perhaps not, but it can be used that way, and abortion kills millions upon millions because they are merely inconvenient. The authors’ morals will not be used to put into practice their suggestions. Keep that in mind.

                  (Note: While putting this blog post together, the article was removed from the Journal of Medical Ethics website. The link takes you to a "Not Found" page, and no amount of searching for title, text, or authors could find it. I’m not sure if it was taken down for some reason, or if, perhaps, only the most recent articles appear on the website. In any event, the article is no longer there. I’ll continue to look to see if it gets posted elsewhere.)

                  (Second note: This is why I haven’t posted anything this week so far. I’ve been spending my time working on this.)

                  Read the rest of this entry

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                    Friday Link Wrap-up

                    California, like Greece, has been spending like there’s no tomorrow. And, like Greece, there may not be a tomorrow, if they can find $3.3 billion in the couch cushions.

                    Occupy Wall Street complained about how powerless they were against big banks and other members of "the 1%". Their solution was more government intervention to make things "fair". Ironically, their best success came when they themselves, the people, switched banks to protest fees and other things. In many cases, we don’t need government to act for us, we just need to act. The people already have the power. Use it!

                    James Taranto on the fallout from the Planned Parenthood / Susan G. Komen for the Cure dustup: "Planned Parenthood’s bitter campaign against Komen–aided by left-liberal activists and media–is analogous to a protection racket: Nice charity you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it. The message to other Planned Parenthood donors is that if they don’t play nice and keep coughing up the cash, they’ll get the Komen treatment."

                    Speaking of which, if even a New York Times columnist recognizes press bias in anything dealing with abortion, you know it’s getting much worse.

                    Speaking of which, while the media did report that donations to Planned Parenthood were up after the controversy, they conveniently didn’t report that Komen donations doubled.

                    Abortion pill via vending machine. Talk about changing the concept of "over the counter". What does it say about our society that a university finds it useful to dedicate entire vending machines to abortion pills? A cousin of mine commented, "These are the same people, of course, who will freak out at the presence of Chemicals In Food. But take a pill strong enough to abort before the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall? No biggie."

                    Churches using school buildings during weekends is not a church-state issue. It just isn’t. New York City politicians are evicting some because of fear of lawsuits, not for any actual legal reasons. As Ed Stetzer says, "Any constitutional concerns about church use of public school buildings can be answered by a religion-neutral approach. A government that is religion-neutral we will not discriminate based on the content of speech–even unpopular religious speech. Thus, I stand with my Muslim friends who wish to rent on Friday, my Jewish friends on Saturday, and my Christian friends on Sunday–all paying money to use space that belongs to us all."

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                      This should carry more weight than, say, someone like me suggesting it.

                      The scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep has urged fellow researchers to forego embryonic stem cell research — which he says is fraught with practical problems — and pursue more promising types of research.

                      That’s because he believes other research likely will overtake embryonic stem cell research.

                      Ian Wilmut spoke to a crowd of stem cell researchers Nov. 29 in La Jolla, Calif., telling them that because embryonic stem cells tend to lead to tumors, scientists should spend their time on non-embryonic forms of research, particularly on a new method called direct reprogramming. In direct reprogramming, scientists avoid stem cells altogether and, for instance, reprogram a skin cell directly into a nerve cell. Researchers have had success doing just that with lab mice. It has the support of ethicists who have opposed embryonic research.

                      "I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t been pursued more actively," said Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in the 1990s.

                      Follow the money, Mr. Wilmut. I have a feeling not even your credentials are enough to get this to happen. But we can keep trying.

                      The thing is, there is a vastly superior option, with none of the ethical or moral issues.

                      Wilmut’s speech was reported by the North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), which paraphrased him as saying direct reprogramming would provide the benefits of embryonic stem cell research without the risks. The government, he added, likely won’t spend money on embryonic research if a safer method is available.

                      If successful, direct reprogramming would turn the political and ethical debate upside down, making moot discussions over which types of stem cells are most promising. Wilmut was speaking in the same state where California voters in 2004 approved a 10-year, $3 billion investment into embryonic stem cell research. No cures have been found.

                      With embryonic stem cell research, scientists try to take stem cells from embryos and turn them into specific cells for the body. The process is opposed by pro-lifers because it destroys the embryo. In direct programming, scientists — in theory — would take a skin cell and simply reprogram it into, say, a nerve cell, without involving either embryos or stem cells of any kind.

                      In the results of one mice lab experiment released in 2010, fibroblast cells — found in connective tissue — were reprogrammed into nerve cells.

                      But again, it’s not about the science. It’s about the money that some companies want from the government. It’s also about the politics of abortion, attempting to soften the issue of killing a child with the thought that the stem cells might help someone. But the reality is, a child is still dying, and the harvested stem cells are full of problems.

                      And speaking of abortion, there’s a bill going through Congress that would ban abortions for the purpose of sex selection and based on race. But the opposition to this bill by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU and others shows that their supposed concern for non-discrimination doesn’t apply to the most vulnerable of us all.

                      As members of Congress hold a hearing today on legislation that would ban sex-selection abortions and abortions done if the unborn child is of a specific race, leading pro-abortion advocacy groups are strongly opposed to it.

                      Their opposition could explain why organizations like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU almost never speak out against the horrible human rights abuses associated with the one-child policy in China – ranging from sex-selection abortions, to forced abortions, to coercive sterilizations and infanticides.

                      As members prepare to hear from experts on how the sex-selection abortion culture has made its way from nations like China and India to the United States, according to one study, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU and a total of 30 pro-abortion groups banded together for a letter opposing the legislation, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

                      Feminists are up in arms about sex-selection abortions. OK, sorry, that was some wishful thinking. They ought to be, but aren’t.

                      Pro-life blogger Rebecca Taylor has noted that feminist groups frequently remain silent on the issue of sex-selection abortions.

                      “One may ask where are the feminists in the face of this disastrous practice that marginalizes all women?  Where are the champions of women and their reproductive rights?  They are mostly silent,” she said. “They championed choice and now that choice is being used to kill millions of female fetuses and subjugate women, they have nothing to say lest the sacred abortion cow be slaughtered.”

                      The principles upon which the Left stands, especially regarding science, ironically, are mostly politically convenient ones that fall away when the politics don’t work for them. Which suggests that they aren’t really principles at all.

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                        Friday Link Wrap-up

                        Starting with Occupy Wall Street:

                        • If the Tea Party had been shown to have done just a few of these things, if would have run on the nightly news for days. (Just recall how unsubstantiated accusations of racism were reported), and they would have been (rightly) castigated. When OWS does it, the press is mute.
                        • Richmond charged the Tea Partiers $10,000 to have a rally. OWS, nothing. The Tea Party is going to ask for their money back on the grounds that the government is playing favorites.
                        • It looks like even those who oppose the fat cats on Wall St. can act just like them. For a group upset at how the wealth has been spread around, they don’t do such a good job at spreading it themselves.
                        • When Lech Walesa, Poland’s former President, said he support OWS, the AP was all over it. But when he got more details about what was really going on and what the demands were (such as they were), he decided not to support it, saying "American is sliding towards socialism."  All of a sudden, the AP website didn’t seem to think that Walesa existed. Oh, that liberal media.
                        • Vagrants started to take advantage of the free food at the OWS protests, and all of a sudden the 99% started acting like the 1%. One protestor was quoted as saying, “It’s turning into us against them. They come in here and they’re looking at it as a way of getting a free meal and a place to crash, which is totally fine, but they don’t bring anything to the table at all.” It got so bad, the folks manning the kitchen staged their own protest against providing food for free to those who weren’t there to support the cause, aka freeloaders.
                        • Take a look at these headlines. If they described Tea Partiers, you just know they’d be the top story on the nightly news. OWS gets a pass. A lot of passes, actually.

                        Folks who support assisted-suicide claim they just want to stop suffering. Today’s slippery slope defines "suffering" as "loneliness" and financial troubles.

                        James Taranto starts out by describing what sounds like the housing bubble. But he’s not. What other bubble is out there, inflating as we speak, and is ready to burst?

                        With a Democrat in the White House, the "no blood for oil" chant has gone on hiatus. Imagine if Dubya had gone into Libya.

                        And finally, speaking of OWS, here’s a graphic to help the media tell Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party apart. (Click for a bigger image.)

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                          Friday Link Wrap-up

                          Got to catch up on the wrap-up. The past two weeks have been dizzying.

                          Warren Buffet said he’d be more than happy to pay more taxes. First of all, if he’d be that happy about it, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from just writing a check to the US Treasury. Second of all, he wouldn’t be fighting the IRS over unpaid taxes. How happy, really, do we think he’d be?

                          Evan Sayet is getting confused trying to keep track of all the different kinds of beliefs that cause the Left to label you "racist". The list keeps growing. (Note, this is a link to a Facebook post. If you don’t have an account, I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it.)

                          Another instance of where private, protected, Christian speech will get you suspended. (Note, this is too much even for the ACLU.)

                          You need an ID to get a job, fly on a plane, or buy liquor. But showing an ID to vote? Why, that’s a poll tax, says Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

                          Planned Parenthood styles itself as a "family planning" service (at least, it does that when it’s trying to protect its government funding). But by their own numbers, 97.6% of pregnant women who went to PP in 2009 were sold an abortion. And that’s up from the year before. It’s an abortion mill, plain and simple. Follow the money. On top of that, would you consider "safe" a procedure that caused 28% of its patients to attempt suicide afterwards? Or one where patients had an 81% increase in mental health issues?

                          When the NY Times calls you liberally biased, you really need some self-examination. And yet this same "news" organization was chosen to moderate the recent Republican debate.

                          The government gives breaks from taxes and some laws based on religious affiliation. However, that determination seems to be getting rather politicized under Obama. When the National Labor Relations Board can decide if you’re "religious enough" (and claiming it based on specious authority), it’s chipping away at religious liberty.

                          The Washington Post’s "On Faith" section recently asked its contributors, "After millennia of religious studies, is it time for universities also embrace secular studies?" Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission answers with the obvious, "They already are."

                          A recent WikiLeaks document dump did not redact the names of informants to the US State Department. Now these people must fear for their lives. Is this what Assange supporters really want from their idol; pronouncing death sentences?

                          Civility Watch: New web-based video game lets you kill well-known Republicans. If a Republican is shot anytime soon, will the Left allow anyone to blame liberal incivility? (Hint: No.)

                          James Pethokoukis makes a strong case for the idea that what Obama did made the economy worse, not better.

                          In Obama’s jobs speech the other night, he claimed that all his spending would be paid for. No, sir, not based on your speech it won’t.

                          And finally, a thought on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. (Click for a larger picture.)

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                            More Good News on the Stem Cell Front

                            Adult stem cells, that is.

                            While highly potent embryonic stem cells are often the subject of ethical and safety controversy, adult-derived stem cells have other problems. As we age, our stem cells are less pliant and less able to transform into the stem cells that science needs to find breakthrough treatments for disease.

                            An exception to this can be found in the stem cells of oral mucosa, the membrane that lines the inside of our mouths. These cells do not seem to age along with the rest of our bodies. In his lab at Tel Aviv University’s Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Prof. Sandu Pitaru and his graduate students Keren Marinka-Kalmany, Sandra Treves, Miri Yafee and Yossi Gafni, have successfully collected cells from oral mucosa and manipulated them into stem cells.

                            Wounds in the mouth don’t scar; they heal by regeneration. The reasons for using embryonic stem cells keep dwindling.

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                              Planned Parenthood on the Ropes

                              When they’re about to lose your federal funding, Planned Parenthood will say anything to try to justify their existence. "Hey, we don’t just do abortions. People will lose basic health care services like mammograms."

                              Yeah, well just try to get one at PP.

                              Calling 30 clinics in 27 states, every single one said they don’t do them. Thank you, Lila Rose and the folks at Live Action for further exposing the corruption at PP.

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