Barbara Lyons

New Stem Cells Avoid Use of Embryos

In yet another dramatic development in the advance of ethical stem cell research, scientists at several research institutes have discovered a relatively easy process of manipulating existing cells to produce highly-prized pluripotent stem cells.  In the January 2014 issue of Nature magazine, scientists report: “Here we report a unique cellular reprogramming phenomenon, called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP), which requires neither nuclear transfer nor the introduction of transcription factors.  In STAP, strong external stimuli such as a transient low-pH stressor reprogrammed mammalian somatic cells, resulting in the generation of pluripotent cells.”

Pluripotent cells are ones with the ability to produce any cell in the body.  It was once believed that creation of embryonic stem cells through destruction of living human embryos was the only means of obtaining pluripotent stem cells.  In 2007, scientists discovered iPS cells which have pluripotent qualities, and now research has yielded an apparently even simpler process to obtain pluripotent stem cells.   The STAP research was conducted on blood cells from newborn mice.

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, hailed the research, stating:  “If this technology proves feasible with human cells, which seems likely, it will offer yet another alternative for obtaining highly flexible stem cells without relying on the destructive use of human embryos.  This is clearly a positive direction for scientific research.”

This is an exciting development as scientists turn to ethical research to create products to benefit the human condition that all can support.

Barbara Lyons

Read lead-in to the nature article here.

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The Two Deceptive Faces of President Obama

“Today, we profess the principles we know to be true. We believe that each of us is ‘wonderfully made’ in the image of God. We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away. And central to that dignity is freedom of religion — the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice on faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.”

It’s difficult to believe that these are the words spoken by President Obama earlier this week at the National Prayer Breakfast. He can’t possibly mean what he said! How does the “inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away” jive with the actions of the most pr0-abortion President ever, a President who is joined at the hip with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider?

“And central to that dignity is the freedom of religion…..” What? Words from an individual whose administration argued vehemently in Court just a few weeks ago that the Little Sisters of the Poor have no right to define what their own religious beliefs are, let alone be allowed to practice them.

I would truly like to respect our President as the leader of our nation. It is speeches like this with deceptive words that do not match devastating actions that cause profound cynicism and distrust.

Barbara Lyons

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Saint Jude Hospice – Valuing the Sacredness of Life

Saint Jude Hospice values and upholds the sacredness of human life. We are a Catholic hospice serving terminally ill patients in your community. Our mission is to provide Radical Loving Care to bring healing to those when their hope has changed from a cure to comfort. We do this by offering comprehensive hospice services including medical care, homemaker services, emotional and spiritual support, respite services, medication management, music therapy, bereavement care, and volunteer services. Saint Jude Hospice is an organization inspired by the words of Jesus Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Strengthened by our values and led by our Servant Hearts, we deliver the highest quality of care and always adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

Saint Jude Hospice has been operating in Wisconsin since July of 2010, when it first opened its doors in Madison. Today it provides comprehensive hospice services in the state from five locations: Madison, Baraboo, Delavan, La Crosse, and Platteville serving 26 counties in Wisconsin. It also has offices in Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. Through our “Radical, Loving Care” philosophy, we are “givers of joy” and “generous and kind.” In fact, these qualities are represented in our core values: Outstanding Customer Service; Integrity in our Activities; Nothing is Impossible with God; Kindness in our Relationships; and Excellence in Everything.

CEO Tom Moreland has always felt a strong calling to serve people and to also serve the church, which is what ultimately lead him to open a Catholic hospice inspired by Jesus’s words: Love one another, as I have loved you. Moreland explains, “A caring community devotes more attention, not less, to members facing difficult times in their life. Our hospice program helps do this.” Saint Jude Hospice is endorsed by 9 Archbishops and Bishops in the Midwest. Beyond complying with state and federal regulations, it also follows the Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Healthcare Services.

Beyond patient care, there is an integral commitment of our organization to uphold the values of human life and dignity for all persons, at all ages. This is why we are a supporter of other organizations, such as Wisconsin Right to Life, which shares our passion for protecting human life. We recognize that each life is a gift and hope that no life or death is hastened by choices, means and technology that may be available to us.

More information can be found at www.saintjudehospice.org or by calling on of our local WI offices. Madison: 608.819.6655, Baraboo: 608.448.4200, Delavan: 262.725.7021, La Crosse: 608.781.5490, Platteville: 608.348.2778.

God bless you!

Katherine M. Ginkel, MA, CPG

Director of Mission, Ethics, & Community Benefit – Saint Jude Hospice

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Republican National Committee: Don’t Run from “War on Women” Charges

Gathering in Washington, DC for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, the RNC overwhelmingly passed a resolution today that says the party “will support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive ‘war on women’ rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents.” The resolution explicitly rejects those who would counsel pro-life GOP candidates and their campaigns to adopt “a strategy of silence on the abortion issue when candidates are attacked.”

The “Resolution on Republican Pro-Life Strategy” was drafted by Delaware National Committeewoman Ellen Barrosse and co-sponsored by 15 other RNC members. It passed the RNC’s Resolutions Committee unanimously on Wednesday and easily.

“RNC leaders delayed the start of the meeting last week so that they could march alongside activists in the annual March for Life rally, signaling that the party is embracing and highlighting their stance on abortion, which has been taken up by state legislatures across the country,” according to Nia-Malika Henderson, writing on the Washington Post’s she-the-people blog.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined other pro-life politicians at Wednesday’s January 22 March for Life rally, promising “that next week, the House will vote once and for all to end taxpayer funding for abortions. The No Taxpayer Funds for Abortion Act, written by our good friend and colleague Chris Smith, will respect the morals and consciences of millions of Americans – and ultimately will save lives.”

The Resolution on Republican Pro-Life Strategy condemns Democrats for “demonizing Republican pro-life candidates” and “manipulating American voters”; reaffirms that “The Republican Party is proud to stand up for the rights of the unborn and believe all Americans have an unalienable right to life as stated in The Declaration of Independence”; points out the cost when candidates stay silent when attacked; highlights that “According to the extensive polling conducted by Gallup since 1975, many Republican stances regarding abortion garner at least 60 % support from the public and across the political spectrum”: and resolves that “The Republican National Committee urges all Republican pro-life candidates, consultants, and other national Republican Political Action Committees to reject a strategy of silence on the abortion issue when candidates are attacked with ‘war on women’ rhetoric.”

David Andrusko, National Right to Life Committee

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Marist Poll Further Proof Country is Pro-Life

The Knights of Columbus released poll data on January 22, the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, from a survey it commissioned conducted by Marist, The poll results substantiate polls conducted over the years which show that Americans continue to be pro-life.

55% believe abortion should be legal in only the most extreme circumstances

44% believe abortion should be legal anytime she wants one at various stages of pregnancy

Only 9% believe abortion should be legal the full nine months of pregnancy (which is the law according to Roe v. Wade)

58% support showing a woman an ultrasound image of her baby at least a day before an abortion (required in Wisconsin law)

80% support parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion (Wisconsin requires parental consent)

79% support a 24-hour waiting period prior to having an abortion (required in Wisconsin law)

74% support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks except to save the life of the mother

The Marist poll supports the findings in the November 2013 poll of Wisconsin voters commissioned by Wisconsin Right to Life and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies. All of this is good news for the Wisconsin Right to Life legislative program now and going forward.

Barbara Lyons

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This is for You, Gwen….

A simple note which said, “This is for you, Gwen.” A simple note which pierced my heart and brought tears, for I immediately knew who Gwen is.

The note arrived on a contribution to Wisconsin Right to Life. The size of the gift had no meaning, for it was overshadowed by the heartfelt message of a mother who was giving in honor and memory of the child she lost through abortion (as confirmed by her friend).

The details aren’t known – her reason, how far along she was in her pregnancy, how she knew her child was a baby girl – but what is instantly recognized is the pain and longing which fills the entire being of a mother who sees an empty chair at her table, whose arms ache for the child she can never forget.

Gwen is a future voice for women whose message will not be heard. Gwen could have aspired to be and do anything she desired. She is a single child who represents a whole host of children who were never given a chance.

January 22, 2014 marks the 41st year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in our country, throwing out the life-protecting laws of all 50 states. The Roe v. Wade decision represents social policy by sheer fiat, and its impact is devastating. Gwen is joined by a staggering 56 million additional American children whose value and presence are irretrievably lost, whose families are profoundly broken by their absence. We have lost not only them, but the gifts and talents of their children and grandchildren. I call them Generation LLA for Lives Lost to Abortion.

How many of us arrived at an inconvenient or unexpected time? Why were we allowed to live, but not Gwen? How many Gwens do mothers and fathers and families and society have to lose before we collectively stand up as a nation of human rights, decency and justice and say – enough?

Here’s what abortion represents to millions of Americans – loss, sadness, grief, devastation, secrecy, coercion, abandonment, failure, empty arms, isolation, loss of humanity, indifference, regret — some of our strongest human emotions expressed for a social policy that is unfair and unjust to the most vulnerable members of the human family.

Today, when you see children at a mall, a playground, in a yard, recognize these children as ones who have been given the most precious gift of all – the gift of life. These are the “lucky” ones who have made it.

All is not lost for we face a future which provides great hope. Ultrasound sonography is a literal window to the womb, revealing the undeniable truth of the humanity of the unborn child. Women speak up about how abortion hurts them. A majority of Americans self-describe as pro-life. Young people value unborn children believing they should be allowed to reach their full potential. Fewer doctors are willing to perform abortions and hundreds of abortion clinics are closed.

We look forward to that magnificent day when abortion is unthinkable, when clinics close their doors forever — because no one comes. It is then that our nation will fulfill its true destiny of a land of opportunity for everyone. It is then that a true culture of life will be realized.

Barbara Lyons

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New Mexico Judge Imposes Assisted Suicide on State

If you ever wonder why there are so many radical and extreme lawsuits, wonder no more. As I have often said about a variety of issues, it only takes one judge to break down the walls of democratic governance and impose an ideological view.

That has now happened in New Mexico where Compassion and Choices brought a lawsuit claiming that a doctor assisting the suicide of a terminally ill patient isn’t breaking the assisted suicide law, but merely providing the state constitutionally protected medical treatment of “aid in dying.”

That redefinition gambit did not work a few years ago in Connecticut. It didn’t even work in Montana, where the Supreme Court there refused to impose a constitutional right to assisted suicide. And the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that there is no federal constitutional right to assisted suicide.

But now, that “one judge” has been found.

First, Judge Nan G. Nash finds that terminal illness is nothing but suffering-despite the great advances of hospice and the meaning many find in that time of life. From the decision:

Once diagnosed, these patients are subjected to invasive medical tests and procedures, loss of autonomy and control, extreme pain and other equally insidious indignities. When given their terminal diagnosis, they must say good bye to friends and loved ones, put their affairs in order, come to terms with their imminent death and await the inevitable. The activities which give their lives meaning are stripped away, one after the other, as their disease progresses

Having painted the bleakest and most pessimistic picture possible, she ignores that not all people diagnosed as “terminal,” actually die from their condition.

She then states that since some terminally ill people die by refusing medical treatment-previously ruled not suicide by the U.S. Supreme Court-and because people can die from the side effects of pain control-they can of a tonsillectomy too, but that isn’t suicide-that it is unconstitutional to prevent terminally ill people from receiving a lethal overdose from a doctor for the purpose of self-killing:

Not only that, Nash agrees that the New Mexico Legislature specifically included assisted suicide in the context of health care in the legal prohibition. So what?

This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying. If decisions made in the shadow of one’s imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, than what decisions are?

So by mere assertion, she makes it so.

Be clear: The decision is ideological. It follows to the i-dot and t-cross the advocacy arguments of C & C, which was more honest in its agenda when it was known as the Hemlock Society.

One would hope that logic and the use of accurate and proper definitions would be at the core of such a culture-changing court ruling. But alas, that’s not the country we live in anymore.

One would think that such a radical agenda should be enacted democratically. But alas, that’s not the country we live in anymore.

None of that matters when there is an ideology to be imposed!

Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?

Read the decision here.

Wesley J. Smith

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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear HHS Mandate Cases March 25

The U.S. Supreme Court announced earlier this week that it will hear oral arguments challenging the HHS regulations emanating from ObamaCare which mandate that employers provide coverage for services to which they are morally opposed. As reported here on numerous occasions, this mandate by the Obama administration has generated numbers of court cases which claim the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion clause.

The two cases to be heard at 10:00am on March 25 are Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. In prior decisions, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby while the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held against Conestoga Wood Specialties. It is this division of opinions by courts around the country which will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barbara Lyons

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Obama-Appointed Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor at Odds with Administration on Contraception Provision of Obamacare

Just before the new year of 2014 was rung in, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction temporarily blocking the Obamacare provision that would require the Denver-based Catholic order Little Sisters of the Poor to offer its employees contraceptive coverage. According to Mark Rienzi, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the group, this injunction keeps the Little Sisters “from being forced to violate their religion.”

“The U.S. government is big, powerful and expansive,” Mr. Rienzi said. “It’s got lots of ways to give out contraceptives. There’s no reason for the government to make nuns be a part of this.”

Quoted in a Washington Times story by Meredith Somers, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, also applauded Justice Sotomayor’s decision, calling the contraception mandate “an egregious and blatant violation” of religious freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. “No American should be forced to surrender their religious freedom or abandon their deeply held religious beliefs,” he said in a statement.

According to a POLITCO story issued this morning,

The Obama administration argues that employer health plans need to include contraception to ensure that women and their babies are healthy. Opponents of the policy — notably, the Catholic bishops — say that the administration is requiring some businesses to forgo religious beliefs against the use of contraception. The case brought by the Little Sisters … falls into an unexpected loophole in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraception coverage.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration tried through regulations to accommodate religious-affiliated nonprofits over contraception. It allowed groups like the Little Sisters to tell their insurance company or third-party administrator that they objected on religious grounds. The insurer or administrator would then have to provide contraceptives to the employees at no charge.

The premise was that an insurer or administrator would not have the same objection to providing such products. But the catch here is that the Little Sisters’ administrator — the Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust — is also run by a religious order.

The Christian Brothers, who joined the Little Sisters on the lawsuit, qualify as a church under employment law. And under that law, if they don’t want to provide contraception, the federal government has no recourse to force them to do so.

If the ACA remains as currently written, religious organizations, religious institutions, or employers who have religious objections are forced to provide contraception coverage as well as all FDA-approved emergency contraception.

According to the FDA website, FDA-approved emergency contraceptives include Plan B, Plan B One-Step and Next Choice. Many religious organizations would also recognize these as abortifacients. Mandating religious organizations, religious institutions and employers to provide this coverage simply violates their conscience rights.

The question remains: What is the alternative when the insurance company, who under the ACA is required to provide contraception coverage, has the same objections and will also have their conscience rights violated?

The answer to this and the end of this story is far from complete. Over the coming months this will be an issue at the forefront as more challenges, more delays and more decisions await.

Heather Weininger
Wisconsin Right to Life Legislative / PAC Director

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Obama Administration Targets WRTL and Similar Organizations with Crippling Regulations

Using the IRS, the Obama Administration is proposing new regulations which attack the free speech rights of Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) and similar groups to speak for the unborn and other vulnerable people.

Under the new regulations, the IRS will dramatically limit the ability of WRTL to give you basic information provided for over 40 years on the positions of candidates on right-to-life issues, the voting records of legislators, statements legislators make about right-to-life issues, and our right to discuss the positions of nominees for federal judgeships including the U.S. Supreme Court!

These crippling regulations are a clear violation to speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution not only to WRTL, but to your rights of free speech and association. In the end, those we defend — and whom you help defend through your support of our work — will suffer the most when we are silenced as the voice for the voiceless.

Why are these new regulations being imposed? Because WRTL is viewed as a threat by pro-abortion groups and the Obama administration, a favorite tactic is to use regulations to attempt to undermine public support for unborn children by limiting our ability to speak about them at election time.

For the past 10 years, WRTL has been at the forefront of the battle over free speech, winning a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. WRTL is currently challenging the suffocating rules imposed by the state Government Accountability Board, similar to the proposed IRS regulations, before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago where a decision is expected at any time. Facing this new and ominous threat, WRTL will continue its legendary work to protect free speech for those in Wisconsin and across the country.

Barbara Lyons

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