Archive for the ‘1st Amendment’ Category

The 99% matter – a new dedication to government by all the people entwined in equality, ruled by justice, and radiating respect and tolerance

October 18, 2015

239 years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the propositions that ALL PEOPLES ARE CREATED EQUAL AND CAN CONTINUALLY MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER UNITED IN PEACE.

Now we are engaged in a great inequality, racial, religious, and cultural war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are committed in unity to remember those we have lost, who have suffered, and are still suffering, so far in this continuing war for equality, justice, respect, and tolerance . We today rededicate our fight to uphold our original cause for which this nation was founded – equality of all peoples and justice for all, as a remembrance for those who thus far gave their lives, have suffered, or are still suffering that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not remember them– we can not thank them — we can not re-dedicate ourselves to this cause. The brave men and women, living and dead, who have struggled for the cause, and are still struggling have enshrined this cause in the fabric of our nation, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say today, but it can never forget what they did and are doing for this great cause.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated now to the unfinished work which they who fought before have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be today dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead, wounded, and still suffering we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, sacrificed so much, or are still sacrificing — that we today highly resolve that these dead, wounded, and suffering shall not have died, been wounded, or suffer in vain — that this nation, under God and in harmony with nature, shall have a new birth of freedom, equality, justice, respect, and tolerance– and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, entwined in a commitment to equality, justice, respect, and tolerance, working towards world-wide non-violence  and cooperation shall not perish from the earth.

Linda Lorincz Shelton
October 18, 2015

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Is a Frozen Embryo “Life” or Just Living Tissue?

March 14, 2009

In the United States we have the Constitution with the 1st Amendment granting freedom of religion. Why should those who believe there is no “life” until there is a functional brain be forced to believe that “life” exists in a ball of cells. Is the ball of cells or early embryo just living tissue or is it “life”. Science will never tell us as science cannot prove or disprove the concept of soul. This is a religious belief and a matter of faith. Some believe “life” starts at conception. Others believe “life” starts when there is a functional brain. Under the First Amendment in the United States government is forbidden from deciding this question due to issues of religious freedom.

I can transplant a frog skin cell nucleus into a frog enucleated ovum and produce a frog. This can be done by with any living creature. Does this mean that skin cells are all “life” and that amputation of an arm is murder, just because ALL cell nuclei can be used to produce “life”, though artificially prepared?

Shouldn’t we stop trying to shove one person’s religious faith upon another? Please show respect for the religious beliefs of others who do not believe that a ball of cells (an eight cell embryo for example) is “life”. Those that do not believe an embryo without a functional brain is “life” have no problem with “aborting” or destroying this non-“life”, not non-living ball of cells. Skin cells and other human tissues are alive but are not “life”.

Many believe “life” is a soul and cannot be without a functional brain. Souls do not reside in dead bodies or in lumps of tissue. That is why brain death is defined and it is legal to unplug someone from a ventilator who is brain dead. To bar this across the board would be making a religious decision.

There is a problem with misuse of terms and rhetoric that disrespects religious freedom. Religious freedom is guaranteed in this country. I respect those that believe “life” starts at conception. They are free to refuse to allow their embryos to be used for stem cell research. They are free to refuse to have an abortion at age 12 after being raped by an uncle or when they are carrying an anencephalic fetus (congenital absence of brain). They are free to keep a brain dead relative on a ventilator until the body rots at their expense.

We shouldn’t expect the entire world to be subject to the specific religous dogma of a portion of the population that believes “life” begins at conception and ends when the brain dead body’s heart stops beating even when on a ventilator.

I don’t believe that in a country with freedom of religion where I do NOT believe that a ball of cells is a human life or that a twitching pre-heart vessel in a 7 week embryo (some falsely call a beating heart) that does not yet have a developed brain is “life” that I should be FORCED to have this “religious faith” that some others possess. This is NOT religious freedom. This is government imposed religion.

An anencephalic 35 week fetus (no brain or skull but just a space where you can look at the back of the face and sinuses and the top of the oozing spinal column) is not life to me either because without a functioning brain, there is no life. We call this brain death (or lack of brain) and yet an anencephalic fetus has a beating heart, hands, feet, and a body and fact that twitches with spinal reflexes! Someone who is brain dead has a beating heart but no one argues the right to pull the plug! Phrases such as “I saw the beating heart” or “I saw the arm twitch” mean nothing in the definition of life. Life to me is a functioning developed brain where thought is possible. A chicken with its head cut off flaps around for a few minutes due to spinal reflexes.

As to stem cells. Adult stem cells and stem cells derived from skin or umbilical cords have not yet proven to have as much potential to develop into all organs of the body as embryonic stem cells, which are still the gold standard. You must use the gold standard to prove that the adult stem cells, umbilical stem cells, and skin derived stem cells have the same potential and use as the gold standard. This has NOT yet been done, despite the rhetoric of those opposing stem cell research.

Why should the man and woman who donated their cells to produce a frozen embryo be forced to follow the religion of others. Nothing says that if a man and woman who are “owners” of a frozen embryo who believe that it is a “life” cannot refuse to have it used for embryonic stem cell research. Nothing says that they cannot donate it to a woman who wants to try to carry it to term.

I just don’t want people who do not hold the religious belief that a frozen embryo is a life forced to follow the religious beliefs of others and forced not to donate it for stem cell research. I do believe there should be a ban on selling it for research.

I find it of utmost importance to uphold the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution. Anything less is obscene to me.

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Terms Toxic

March 9, 2009

In regards to the debate about the ethical use of discarded frozen embryos for stem cell research:

I find it obscene that many do not respect freedom of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment. If one doesn’t support the First Amendment, perhaps they should move to a country that is controlled by religious zealots.

That is why I consider both the pro-life and pro-choice terms to be toxic and unconstitutional if used in the wording of law.

Many do not believe that a frozen embryo is “life”. It is religious faith that says life starts at conception. We don’t live in a country where religious dogma is allowed to be shoved down one’s throat.

I think all would agree that life occurs when a fetus is viable outside the womb which certainly happens at about 22 – 25 weeks gestation with intensive medical care. In the first eight weeks before the body is physically though not functionally partially formed, this is a matter of religious faith. It should not be a matter of law unless you want to revoke the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

I do not believe life begins at conception. Although retired, I have practiced neonatology and my patients are in the Guinness Book of World Records 1997 ed (the Vincent triplets) as “the lightest set of triplets in the world” – combined weight 4lb 2oz. They are now healthy productive adults. Therefore, I believe I have a better understanding of biology concerning development than most people. I respect freedom of religion or faith. This means that I respect those that believe life begins at conception, but also expect them to respect those, like me, who believes that it does not. I don’t believe there is a human being with a soul until there is a thinking functioning brain. 

Electroencephalography suggests the capacity for functional pain perception in premature infants probably does not exist before 29 or 30 weeks; this study asserted that withdrawal reflexes and changes in heart rates and hormone levels in response to invasive procedures are reflexes that do not indicate fetal pain. Lee, S. J. (2005). “Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence”.JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 294 (8): 947–54.doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.947. PMID 16118385.

The following gestational ages mentioned are just estimates as some development can be speeded up or slowed down depending on exposure to steroids or due to variable gene expression. Development is a continuum, not a discrete process where you can say for sure that in every case the stage was reached at the same time – so you may have a good looking heart that is not fully septated without a properly functioning conduction system at 18 wks for example. The heart is not septated and functioning as a mature heart with a mature conduction system other than a beating tube until around 20 wks. The lungs are not fully canalized until 26 wks – this varies according to how stress hormones of mother as lung development is speeded up with steroids (tubes start out as solid, then form a lumen, then the air sacs develop). The brain does not show reaction to pain until close to 29-30 wks and the movement, sucking, reflexes that are seen are primitive – some from the spine and some from lower brain levels. Thought processes in a primitive way, not yet mature evolve in a continuum and take the longest with the higher thinking brain even developing continually until past the teen years (that’s why children age five don’t understand time and teens have poor processing of consequences and control of impulses).

Therefore, there is a gray area between about 18 weeks and 25-26 wks where there is a very big question as to when a thinking, feeling brain actually is achieved. I have no problem or concern about abortions before about 20 wks or at any time if severe defects incompatible with life such as anencephaly (no brain above spinal cord or behind face) or extreme spina bifida with empty skull and brain sticking out of back of neck. I think therefore, that there should not be legislation dictating faith as science cannot answer the question of when life begins concerning the 18-25 wk period. I would for sure allow abortion before 20 wks. As brain development is a continuum, why should a woman not be allowed to abort a fetus with congenital defects that are NOT compatible with life at any point in the pregnancy when the defect is discovered.  I certainly would prefer an abortion at 35 wks in such a case than bringing a baby to term who is likely to suffer more while dying because the brain is more developed.

The only area where there should be some debate before laws are revised is the question of life between 18- 25 weeks of gestation. That is why I am pro-religious choice (including respecting atheism or no religion) and oppose both pro-choice and pro-life groups.


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