Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

How to Decrease Teen Pregnancies, Decrease Crime, and Build Our Economy

March 21, 2009

Personally as a pediatrician, I found the highest teen birth rates in three groups. 1. Teens in distressed families (drug addict or absent parents [not single moms], poverty where parents are working 2-3 jobs, overextended and therefore technically absent and rich parents with unsupervised kids); 2. Teens in very religious families relying on abstinence, that wouldn’t talk about sex, leaving kids to figure it out on their own (these kids constantly were super rebellious); and 3. idol teens who had no hobbies except hanging out with friends and who had self-esteem problems such that they would do anything to appear popular.

The saddest case that is a commentary on how we talk but don’t help distressed teens and families was an eighth grade girl who told me she purposely got pregnant because she wanted someone to “love her.” She had lived mainly on the streets taking care of herself in South Carolina (the bible belt) where social services were inadequate to help her. Her parents were unavailable. The churches, schools, and social services viewed her as important and worthwhile as a dead dog. What do you expect! Three girls in her class were pregnant that year.

Until we promote individual worth; provide adequate eduation so that kids are motivated to learn and therefore kept busy with self motivation(our high school education is like a junior high education in most civilized countries – teachers are in general miserably undertrained); teach kids the value of being involved with others and with activities such as the arts, volunteering, involvement with government and social services, gardening, sports without a goal of being a major leager; teach that community and family is more important than self and instant gratification or material goods; promote a village atmosphere where people in one small neighborhood or a few blocks in a city know each other, meet regularly with each other (difficult with two jobs and long commutes) and help each other (70 % of Americans don’t know their neighbors); make real job training and jobs available to young men and women; reform laws so that like in Europe women can stay home with a child the first two years of life and still have a job available and career available when they return to work, we will make no progress in regards to teen births or abortions.

We need to shift our priorities and donations to the REAL problems that result in teen pregnancies and abortions. If we simply fight about ideology nothing will be accomplished. United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Perhaps it is time to agree to disagree on ideology and work together on issues that we all agree upon!

The benefits would be enormous. We would not just deal with teen pregnancies and reduce abortions, we would reduce crime and increase our countries productivity saving huge amounts of money and rebuilding our economy.

Advertisements

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.

Abortion – Pro Religion Viewpoint

November 16, 2008

CORRUPT OFFICIALS WIN WHEN AMERICANS FIGHT EACH OTHER –

LET’S STOP FIGHTING

 

      Freedom of Religion – The United States Constitutional Amendments – Amendment I
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,”

        I am absolutely devoted to our Constitution. As such, I cannot condone neither the Pro-Life nor the Pro-Choice organizations. I am Pro-Religion.

         I, at their birth, resuscitated and stabilized the “lightest set of triplets”, the Vincent triplets, according to the “Guiness Book of World Records” 1997 ed. Therefore, I believe I have a certain perspective that others may not.

       The Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is now outdated. The trimester system no longer has any relationship to the potential for life, if one believes that life is defined as that which can be sustained outside the womb. We can now sustain the lives of most newborns at 24+ weeks gestational age, and a few at 22-23 weeks gestational age, although most are severely impaired.

       United We Stand. Divided We Fall. We are Americans, not Saudi Arabians, not Northern Irish, not Italian, not Iranians, not Pakistani, or any other nationalities where religion to some extent rules political decisions.

     We can all agree that abortion of a viable fetus after 21 weeks is vile unless the fetus is non-viable. Non-viable is a very complex topic and this cannot be discussed and decisions made in a paragraph.

       At one extreme is a fetus that is anencephalic (no skull or brain behind the face or above the spinal cord). I do not consider this life and have no difficulty with an abortion in this case at any time in the pregnancy. This situation is no different than brain death and I cannot understand anyone disagreeing with me here. Then there is a large grey area, where the fetus may be alive and viable for at most a few days, but cannot be saved, such as with extreme spina-bifida where the brain sticks out of an opening in the neck and the skull is empty except for fluid. Again in such a tragic case, I do not believe that abortion at  any time is not appropriate if decided by the parents in conjunction with medical personnel.  However, forcing the mother to have a C-Section would be cruel and more dangerous and the emptying of the fluid from the empty skull to facilitate the birth by shrinking the skull to make more space for the brain sticking out to pass through the cervix and not get ripped off of squashed is appropriate in this rare case. It is exactly this type of case where the lay term “partial birth abortion” was, in my opinion, inappropriately formed and used for  political purposes. The medical name for this procedure is dilation and extraction, if done prior to birth. Other types of fetal malformations which are incompatible with life are a gray area as to how best to handle them. Perhaps, this is the area where laws might be illegitimate to use to intervene and it is best left to the parents and the physician..

       In the first many weeks of a pregnancy, there is no human form, only potential life if you are pro-choice, rapidly dividing ball of cells — now known as a blastocyst at 4 weeks of age,  then this ball of cells transforms as an embryo – a rapid migration and differentiation of cells to forms parts of the body into  a fetus at 9 weeks into pregnancy – which has the basic early form of a body but not fully developed organs and  brain.  The organs and brain develop through the fetal period until birth, but are sufficient for viability barely at 21 weeks but usually at 24 weeks. Those who are pro-life believe that it is murder to abort at any time as they believe that when the sperm enters the egg this constitutes life even through the period of a blastocyst or embryo.

        Whether there is “life” before a functioning brain is formed is not a political question, but a religious question. No one can prove to you your faith. How can anyone justify laws that interfere with this religious question? I find protests or insistence of laws by both groups in this area disturbing and unconstitutional, just like I would find protests over the death bed of a brain dead person disturbing.

      We should be joining together spending our money more wisely to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to help those who cannot deal with pregnancy and choose to go to term to deal with their situation and become good and productive mothers, to help those that obtain abortion never need another one again.

       This is the common ground. This should be the starting point of all discussions. This is how I believe we should reframe the question.

For a different most interesting discussion of the abortion issue see:

http://littlecog.com/2008/11/15/abortion-is-wrong-but-should-be-legal/


%d bloggers like this: