Which candidates are pro-life?
RNC for Life REPORT
A Publication of the Republican National Coalition for Life SPRING 2005 — No. 56
Senator Brownback Speaks Out
On The Value Of Human Life
 
The loss of Terry Schiavo heightens debate on the nature of the individual

Editor's Note: For 32 years, since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which nullified all state laws making the killing of an unborn baby by abortion a crime, we in the pro-life movement have steadfastly worked to inform and educate the public to the fact that each of us, whether born or unborn has an inherent fundamental right to life which must be protected under the law. Our society has under-gone many changes during those years and has predictably become more violent and ever more careless about the value of human life. Today we have come to the bottom of the slippery slope in a slide that started with Roe v. Wade. We are now dealing with powerful forces who would legalize the killing of innocent embryonic babies at one end of life's spectrum, and at the other end we have just witnessed the ugly face of euthanasia in the government-sanctioned murder by starvation and dehydration of a healthy, albeit disabled, innocent young woman, Terri Schiavo. We have reached the essence of the fight for legal protection of the right to life from its inception to its natural end. While the past 32 years have been occupied with cultural and political skirmishes, it is now that the real battle has begun.


WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Sam Brownback released the following statement following the death of Terry Schiavo, who died in Pinellas Park, Florida on March 31, 2005 after being denied food and water for nearly 14 days.

"Terri Schiavo will suffer no more. Her death was tragic and unnecessary and I continue to pray for her and her family.

"With Terri Schiavo, we witnessed the legally sanctioned death by starvation and dehydration of a living human being. It is now time to look beyond the politics of the debate in order to see clearly what is really at issue in this case.

While many in the media have attempted to portray the events leading to Terri's death as politically motivated, it is much more significant than this. Ultimately, one's position on the matter of Terri Schiavo depends on one's view of the human person.

"Few cases have evoked such an emotional response as this one. I think this is because of the fact Terri's plight highlights the question at the core of every issue related to the protection of human life. Is the value of an individual dependent on their quality of life, their level of sentience, their physical or cognitive abilities, or is the value of an individual inherent in the fact that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator, possessing a unique, immortal soul, and therefore of infinite worth, regardless of physical condition or mental state? Is human life sacred per se, or does the dignity we treat individuals with depend on their physical or mental status as human beings?

"If the latter, utilitarian notion is true, then life and death decisions about the most vulnerable among us — the unborn, those with mental and physical disabilities, the aged and infirm — become relative matters to be determined by doctors, judges, lawyers, and legislatures.

"If a subjective judgment of quality of life is what determines the value of an individual or the protections accorded to that individual, this has enormous implications for every one of us: both for the way we conduct our own lives and for the way we order our society. If we have a fundamental mandate to protect the most vulnerable among us — not just those with social or political influence or those who are regarded as productive — a reordering of our priorities, and our laws, becomes necessary. Terri's struggle becomes apparent for what it is: the forced starvation of a living human being with a diminished quality of life for the sole reason that her continued existence has a quality that is below some subjective standard put forth by a judge. If this can be true for any living person, then God help us all.

"Even with the advances in medical technology of recent years, this is a debate that has been with us for a long time, much longer than many Americans are aware. Early in the twentieth century, the euthanasia movement began to spread the doctrine that quality of life was the determinant of human value, and some lives — the defective, the racially inferior, the sick — were not worth preserving and protecting. The first government to widely implement this doctrine of doing away with 'life unworthy of life' was Germany between 1938 and 1945, when the Nazis were in control. During those years, the German government collaborated with 'progressive thinkers' in the medical community in terminating the lives of thousands of what they called 'empty shells of human beings' — the terminally ill and mentally retarded, as well as individuals with brain damage or psychiatric conditions. After World War II, German doctors who worked on this program to eliminate 'useless eaters' were judged guilty of crimes against humanity.

"We should be aware that some of the same ideology is being debated today. Recent changes in state laws allowing the withdrawal of ordinary means of sustenance — food and water — in cases of persistent vegetative state have been driven by ardent euthanasia advocates. Judicial decisions denying the legislatively-mandated review of the finding of fact that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state are an explicit violation of Constitutional guarantee that individuals cannot be deprived of life without due process of law — simply on the basis of quality of life judgment.

"Thankfully, there are many on both sides of the political aisle — including half of the Democrats who came back to Washington to vote in favor of the bill to save Terri Schiavo — who understand that this is not a political issue.

"Ultimately, the debate over Terri Schiavo is not about states' rights or medical ethics or end-of-life decisions. It's about whether we measure life by a subjective or objective test. Is life a test of sufficient value or is it precious and sacred per se in all its various conditions?


Pope John Paul and the Culture of Life

Pope John Paul On April 3, Easter Sunday, The Dallas Morning News prominently featured an editorial, not on the editorial page but instead on Page 2, about Pope John Paul II. The final paragraph says this: "His two most important encyclicals — 1993's Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), and 1995's Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) — spoke to the deepest moral concerns that bloody and chaotic century left to the world of the 21st. In those epistles to the church and the world, the pope warned that the future of humanity free from tyranny and mass murder depended upon both refuting moral relativism and defending the nonnegotiable right to life of all human beings.

"The world loved him but, for the most part, did not listen. Only time will tell whether this is his tragic failure or our own."

For a major secular newspaper to admit that our collective refusal to hear the message of this great Pope is a failure is an admission that his message as the Vicar of Christ on Earth is right and true. We can say unequivocally that we already know where the failure lies, and it is with us.

Just as Jesus' message of reformation and repentance was largely ignored in His time, the relatively few who embraced it, led by a man named Peter and inspired by the Holy Spirit, built the great religious tradition of Christianity. Pope John Paul II, because he preached what Jesus taught, and because he unflinchingly upheld the highest moral principles, calling us to a life of holiness, he was frequently criticized as "intolerant" of those who choose the crooked path. On the contrary, Pope John Paul II was full of love for all of us who struggle through this life as fallen creatures seeking God. Like Jesus, the pope was called to remind us that we must love one another while we must avoid tolerance of sin. Like Jesus, the pope called us to respect all human beings from conception until natural death, to repentance of our sins, and to the reformation of our lives.

John Paul II lives. He lives in Heaven where he must truly be a saint. He lives in his writings and speeches and in his recorded visits to 129 countries and his homilies to millions and millions of people. His mission of bringing Christ to us all will continue as long as his works survive, and we hope and pray that will be forever.

He called all of us to be better than we are. Let us remember what St. Paul told the Philippians: "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."

Let us think about what we have learned and received and heard from Pope John Paul II and never waver in pursuit of a culture of life. Let us offer that gift to John Paul the Great who gave us so very much.

Requiescat in Pace.


Spinal Cord Injuries Treated With
NON-Embryonic Stem Cells

Successful Therapy Not Available in United States

A 20-year-old college student has become the first Iowan and the 36th person in the world to undergo an experimental surgical procedure in Portugal that has shown promising results in helping people with spinal cord injuries.

Amy Foels of Elkader, Iowa has been paralyzed from the waist down since a car accident in November 2002. She underwent a treatment in which doctors removed stem cells from inside her nose and implanted them in her spinal cord.

Since the surgery, performed January 7, 2005 at Egas Moniz Hospital in Lisbon, Miss Foels has reported feeling a "more intense" tingling and a sensation of warmth in her legs. She said Dr. Carlos Lima, a neuropathologist who pioneered the surgical procedure, told her that she might obtain bladder and bowel control within six months. "If that's all I regain, I would be the happiest girl in the world," she said.

Lima began performing the procedure three years ago. Unlike more controversial medical treatments in which stem cells are removed from frozen embryos or aborted fetuses, Lima's technique uses a patient's own stem cells to regenerate nerves. The technique involves removing about a one-inch section of the upper nasal cavity. Olfactory cells there can exist in the central and in the peripheral nervous system, and they regenerate. It's why your sense of smell returns after you've had a cold.

In Amy Foel's case, the car accident had caused part of her spinal cord to compress. The hope is that the new cells will produce new nerves and promote healing. Rehabilitation will help retrain muscles.

So far, the initial results in other patients have been encouraging, said Dr. Steven Hinderer, director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. The Center, part of the Detroit Medical Center, has sent 10 patients to Portugal, including Foels. (Des Moines Register, 1/14/05)

The question is, why isn't this procedure available in America? Why is the US medical community so focused on what doesn't work — research that involves the killing of embryonic babies — instead of the non-embryonic stem cell research and treatments that are working and even resulting in cures?


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