Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on the Supreme Court's Ruling

On April 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court reached a landmark decision. In a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as constitutional. There is much to rejoice about, yet much remains to be done.

The Court has struck a balance between a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy and the "legitimate and substantial" federal interest to preserve fetal life. This balance was at the heart of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision of 1992.

Last week's decision is narrowly crafted to line up with Casey, and in no way signals an overturning of Roe v. Wade (1973). On the other hand, it signals a willingness on the part of the Court to consider federal restrictions on abortion for purely moral reasons. The fact that one option for terminating a pregnancy is no longer available does not significantly interfere with women's rights.

Both sides of the issue agree that this recent ruling will encourage states to craft more restrictions on abortion.

For more analysis, read the commentary by Wesley J. Smith.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breaking News: Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Upheld

By a narrow 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a federal law banning the late-term abortion procedure called 'intact dilation and extraction,' better-known by the label 'partial-birth abortion.' This is a major victory for the pro-life cause.

Partial-birth abortion (as we have discussed in an earlier post), has been called by one author "constitutionally sanctioned homicide." Praise the Lord it is no longer sanctioned by law, nor by our courts!

This exciting news is an answer to prayer.

Boston Globe Article

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Whither Human Dignity?

As anyone who hasn't been living on the planet Mars recently must surely know, there was a big furor last week over remarks by veteran broadcaster Don Imus. His injudicious use of racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers University Women's Basketball team got him fired from his job. His show, "Imus in the Morning," had been carried on 61 stations and generated $20 million in revenues for CBS last year.

Though I won't repeat Imus' remarks here, it is clear why they generated so much reaction. Anytime a person is negatively labeled because of gender or race, this affronts our shared human dignity. And we should be especially careful here, for this has not always been such an obvious evil. It took the civil rights and women's rights movements to raise our awareness, and the work is not yet finished.

Do we as a culture have other blind spots? I think we do. There is another assault on human dignity at work in our midst, only this one based on geography. A whole class of persons has only provisional rights, all because of where they live. Furthermore, the cost of this affrontery is far greater than the indignities suffered by the Rutgers women. For this group, being second-class citizens threatens their very lives.

I am, of course, referring to the unborn. Why are we so quick to recognize prejudice when we hear it in the voice of a cynical sportscaster, but ignore the taking of life through abortion? In fact, we don't even notice, let alone become outraged.

Just wondering.

CNN News Story

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hype or Real Hope in Biotechnology?

Ethicist Nigel Cameron has called this the "Biotech Century," which is certainly apt, given all of the excitement over new ways to intervene into biology and medicine, even tantalizing research to change our genetic makeup and to lengthen human life.

But here's a sober bit of perspective. "Biotech" has become such a holy grail, attracting a lot of speculative investment money, without much possibility of a tangible return. Consider all of the excitement over human embryonic stem cell research, much of it driven by wishful thinking, and not necessarily a lot of good science (other blog articles on stem cell research).

Finally there comes a voice of reason. Joe Cortright is an economist and corporate VP who calls biotechnology an "idea virus." Cortright questions the mentality of going after investment money based on ideas alone, and rightly points out that biotech won't necessarily generate a lot of new jobs or create new products.

I'm reminded of the hype for "genetic engineering" in the 1990s. There were many start-up companies, and a wave of enthusiasm for these ideas. How many products resulted from the billions of dollars invested, that are actually helping people or treating disease today? Almost none. Oh, and by the way, hardly any of those companies exist anymore. The investors made a slight profit on hype alone, and got out.

The modern enthusiasm for stem cell research is leading to distortions of scientific accuracy in the public media, with the public blindly approving the use of state monies for some very questionable future gains. It's a sophisticated form of snake-oil hucksterism, where the real losers will be you and me, along with any rational understanding of human dignity.

(Article on Joe Cortright)