Personhood Proposes Bill to Protect Baby Esther

According one of the post-election polls we did, the number one objection (31%) that caused people to vote no on 26 was the claim that it would ban IVF. This was not true, Personhood does not ban IVF, it only protects the children created in IVF and makes it safer.

Among the legislation that we hope to see passed would clarify this:
The Humane Treatment of Human Embryos Act — modeled after legislation that was proposed in Georgia last year with the help of the Family Research Council. We hope that a Mississippi Act based on this would also incorporate language to make Mississippi the most friendly state in America for embryo adoption (also known as “Snowflake Adoption“).

We hope to see this passed, not because we want to hurt families who struggle with infertility — many of our supporters, family members, and friends can be counted in this number. On the contrary, we want to see Biblical and humane, common sense ethics applied to the modern scientific marvel of infertility treatment. No matter what means is used, God is the author of life and human beings are created in His image.

One such human being is Esther Victorian. Nine months after being one of the approximately 400,000 frozen embryos waiting for a home, little Esther  after a three-year freeze had grown into a 7-pound newborn that is now the answer to a prayer that’s been five years in the making for her parents -
PLEASE read/ watch this amazing story here:
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/134102403.html?tab=video&c=y

Would it be better if this little girl had ended up sold for research or cosmetics or merged with animal genes or simply discarded? Protecting children like this is ALL amendment 26 would have done to IVF — and it is what the Humane Treatment of Human Embryos Act would do.

Eggplotation – Shocking Documentary

We recently got a copy of this documentary. I would recommend that anyone who cares about bioethical issues in the 21st Century gets this movie and watch it — then share with your friends and leaders/ opinion makers in your sphere of influence

For more information or to order DVD click here:

http://www.eggsploitation.com/

Mother Who Could Not Produce Eggs adopts 1st “Snowflake” Baby

A few weeks back, we got an email from the mother of the first “snowflake baby”. Then, I had a good talk with this mom on the phone over the weekend. She & her daughter have an AMAZING story and they support Personhood. The congressional testimony linked below is their story. This “Snowflake Baby” is now a thirteen year old girl. For those who oppose Personhood because of IVF whether it would be better to have children conceived by IVF placed in homes/ families like this one or sold for medical research, cosmetics, or worse?

http://www.stemcellresearch.org/testimony/strege.htm

Personhood does not/ would not prevent IVF — it ensures protection for the children produced through IVF:

“I am Marlene Strege, a resident of Falbrook, California and registered occupational therapist, holding a B.S. Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California. I am accompanied today by my husband, John, who is behind me holding my daughter, Hannah Strege, the first adopted former frozen embryo. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.
“Our story begins in 1996, when John and I realized we had a fertility problem. We tried infertility treatment for nearly a year. It was expensive, costing as much as $2,000 per cycle. For us the treatment was also ineffective. We were devastated when we finally came to terms with this. I suffered all of the standard side effects associated with infertility, including severe depression and grief. I cannot adequately express how debilitating infertility proved to us.” . . .

read the rest here

http://www.stemcellresearch.org/testimony/strege.htm

155 Human-Animal Hybrid Embryos Created and Killed in the U.K.

Our friends and allies at Personhood USA recently posted the following story that shows why the phrase “Cloning or the functional equivalent thereof” are necessary in the otherwise simple to understand language of Amendment 26.

This sort of thing is no longer science fiction, and too many of our scientists are now lacking the moral & ethical compass to guide them. If you want to help stem the tide of this horrific, godless “Brave New World” experimentation, please get behind Amendment 26 here in Mississippi.

155 Human-Animal Hybrid Embryos Created and Killed in the U.K.

Submitted by Keith Ashley on Tue, 07/26/2011 – 16:25

A question from British Parliamentarian Lord David Alton revealed last week that 155 human-animal embryos were created and subsequently destroyed by scientists in the U.K. reports the Daily Mail.‏ The experiments took place in three university laboratories over the course of the last three years.

The Human Fertilization Embryology Act legalized the creation of the human-animal hybrids in 2008. Following its enactment, the labs were granted licenses for the creation of “cybrids,” in which human DNA is implanted into animal cells, and “chimeras,” in which human cells are infused with animal embryos.

The experiments have ceased due to a lack of funding, but the researchers claim their work is crucial in the potential discovery of cures for plethora of diseases—a claim Lord Alton called, “emotional blackmail.”

“None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us any justification in terms of treatment,” he said. “Ethically it can never be justifiable – it discredits us as a country. It is dabbling in the grotesque.”

To date, dozens of cures have been discovered utilizing adult stem cells which do not kill a person in the early stages of their lives. Embryonic stem cell research, on the other hand, has resulted in the formation of tumors in trials and fallen well short of the promises made by proponents.

“On moral and ethical grounds this fails; and on scientific and medical ones too,” said Alton.

Just days before, a group of British researchers before Parliament insisted that there is no cause for alarm because the embryos must be destroyed before reaching 14 days old. The law’s purpose was to permit their creation and stipulate their destruction.

The scientists warned of “a small number of future experiments, which could approach social and ethically sensitive areas which should have an extra layer of scrutiny,” and issued a report calling for the formation of an advisory body to govern ethical decisions.

However, Peter Saunders of the U.K.’s Christian Medical Fellowship responded that the governing body would not end the experimentation and might instead provide cover for expanding the research.

“[T]he group already regard as ethical things that many members of the public either reject or have severe misgivings about,” he said. “[M]y concerns are about what might be being slipped in under the radar. Giving extreme examples can be a clever way of creating an illusion of self-regulation in order to move the boundaries of what is ethically acceptable. In other words if you make it clear you are not asking for a mile then you may reassure people enough to smuggle several hundred yards whilst no one is looking.”

Baby Born from 20 Year Old Frozen Embryo

From Popular Science

Cryopreservation was once the domain of sci-fi novels and B-rate movies. (Think Encino Man.) But it’s increasingly real, as the recent birth of a healthy boy from a frozen embryo created 20 years earlier shows.

The birth, which is reported in a study in the online edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility, sets a record. Until now, no embryo frozen for this long has resulted in a live birth.

The 42-year-old mother of the boy, who is not named in the study, began trying to get pregnant using IVF ten years ago. At the time, she and her husband received embryos from a heterosexual couple who had themselves undergone IVF.

That couple had anonymously donated their leftover embryos after the woman successfully gave birth. Thing was, they did so in 1990 – meaning that the boy just born to the woman in the study has a sibling out there somewhere who was conceived at the same time but is 20 years older

To read the rest, click here

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-10/baby-born-20-year-old-frozen-embryo

Personhood and IVF #2

As mentioned previously, one of the often asked questions is “How would the Personhood Amendment impact IVF?” (In Vitro Fertilization).

Last week we got two short emails from a Law School Student who said he was doing a paper on how Amendment 26 would impact IVF. Below is his message(s) and our reply . . .
Email inquiry #1
I am a law student at ******. I am writing a paper on the implications of the personhood initiative if it is passed. What would happen with in-vitro fertilization if the personhood initiative passed? They implant fertilized eggs, and many of those frozen eggs are fertilized, are they also considered life? Would it be illegal to dispose of the fertilized eggs if life began at fertilization?
Email Inquiry #2 (a few minutes later)
If life began at fertilization, would in vitro fertilization be illegal since many fertilized embryos are destroyed when trying to implant zygote in the uterus?

Our response:
*****,

Thanks for your question

The short answer is that the Personhood Amendment does not deal directly with IVF (or abortion either, for that matter). What it does is acknowledge and recognize what is already true. Your question begins with a false premise:
If life began at fertilization,
However ccording to Fritz Baumgartner, MD (a surgeon and UCLA medical professor):
Every human embryologist worldwide states that the life of the new individual human being begins at fertilization. No human embryologist has ever described human life as “potential” human life. Thus, killing the embryo — by harvesting embryonic stem cells, by using abortifacient contraceptives, by committing so-called therapeutic cloning, or by flushing spare in-vitro fertilization embryos down the sink — takes that human life.
Source – click here

And according to Dan Becker, a great bioethics thinker,

“Medically, there is no such thing as a fetilized egg. It is a human zygote, human embryo or human fetus depending on level of development. In a conversational context it is a child.

“The same level of care would be medically applied DURING any stage of IVF, assuring maximum protection for BOTH mother and child. It would NOT outlaw IVF, but it would require the doctor to treat both mother and child with the same “standard of care” for BOTH patients.”

However, these sorts of issues are not best discussed in short emails. You can feel free to email me follow up questions, but if you are writing a paper about this, it would probably be more helpful if we could talk in a little more detail. Please feel free to call (***)-***-**** and leave a message if you don’t get me.
* Also, I am in the **** area fairly regularly, so if you’d like to meet at or around **** sometime to talk I would be glad to do that.

Thanks
Les Riley

Personhood and IVF #1

One of the frequently asked questions about Personhood is how it will impact In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We received one such question via email a while back from a concerned husband & father.  It began :
I have a few questions about your initiative because it could possibly have a direct effect on certain aspects of my life.  You see, my wife and I have been trying to have children for over two years now.  This past spring we had some fertility testing performed, and the results of those tests indicate that, because of tubal problems, the only way for us to have children of our own is through in vitro fertilization(IVF).  In case you’re not familiar with IVF, it’s a rather expensive process (usually about $10,000-$20,000) that is rarely covered by health insurance policies; in this process, the woman self-administers a prescribed regimen of hormones, and as an ideal result, she will develop 8-12 follicles (which hopefully translates into 8-12 eggs) in one cycle, as opposed to one or, occasionally, two eggs.  These 8-12 eggs are retrieved from her ovaries after they have sufficiently matured, and they are fertilized in a laboratory with the man’s semen and allowed to mature for a few days.  After these few days, the doctor determines which two fertilized embryos are maturing the most, and these two best embryos are then transferred back to the woman’s uterus in hopes of successful implantation—positive pregnancy—and delivery. 

 My concern is in regards to the embryos that were not transferred; the fertilized embryos can be frozen for a significant period of time, and the purpose of this is so that when my wife and I decide that we want another child, we can use the embryos we already have (which is much less expensive) instead of going through the whole process again.   The freezing of our embryos serves as sort of check-point for us, so if the first two fail to implant into her uterus, for whatever reason, we don’t have to completely start over—we can try transferring the embryos we already have, and if we decide we don’t need any more children, we can donate them to another couple that requires donor eggs to conceive.  I think the probability for implantation is somewhere around 60% (at least, for our age group), so we have a much better than average chance of having twins than the average couple, but this also means that both of the embryos have a 40% chance of failing to implant.  Obviously, the ability to freeze embryos can be a huge asset to any couple that requires the aid of IVF to conceive children.

Then asked the hard questions:
The point toward which I’ve been working is this:  Does your initiative address fertility treatments?  Is there anything about your proposed amendment that would work against the efforts and expenses that my wife and I have waged toward starting a family of our own?  Will your initiative make our life more difficult? I am not a lawyer, but if your initiative doesn’t have a clause or exemptions regarding fertility treatments, it probably needs such, and if it purposefully and thoughtfully lacks such exemptions, I have a feeling that you likely won’t be able to accumulate whatever majority you need to pass this initiative—about 1 in10 couples have some sort of fertility problem

Here was our initial response:
Mr. ****,

Thank you for your thoughtful email.

A number of families in our church & circle of aquaintences that we
love dearly also struggle with infertility, so I know how difficult &
painful this can be.

I have not heard the 1 in 10 number you used, but have no doubt that
this is accurate (I would have actually guessed a little higher.)

Since your letter was very personal, thoughtful, and detailed i do not
want to give you a less than personal, compassionate, adequate,
thorough response.

I  will write a more thorough reply if you’d like, but the short answer is the Personhoid Amendment does not directly address
IVF & the particular difficulties you mentioned – positively or
negatively. This was intentional, but not for the reasons you alluded
to.

An amendment of this nature is by necessity not overly broad and does
not even attempt to deal with every possible scenario. The legislature
and the courts will still have to wrestle with the application of the
law to specific circumstances.
IVF
stem cell research
some forms of birth controll
embryo adoption
(and many more areas)
all may be touched by this law, but none are directly addressed.

The Personhood Amendment would prevent the intentional taking of a
life, but it would not adress miscarriage or a situation like yours
any more than our current laws against murder mean someone is charged
when a person dies of a disease in a hospital or laws against child
abuse would be used against parents of a child who inherited a genetic
illness.

We are merely giving lawmakers framework in which to operate and make
these type of decisions. This is no different than any enumerated
right in a bill of rights or constitution or definition in a contract
would.
The Personhood Amendment sets the parameters – lawmakers, judges,
members of the excutive branch are still charged with the duty of
dealing with the myriad of possible applications.

Our amendment simply gives a definition to a term that has henceforth
been ambigous (at great human cost).

Hope this helps. I will try to get a more specific answer soon.
Afterwords, (or now) you can feel free to call me for clarification.

My family & I will pray for you & your wife tonight.

Les Riley