Congress votes for ESCR funding

WASHINGTON – By a vote of 253-174, the newly elected Democratic House of Representatives voted to lift current limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cells. In 2001, President George W. Bush restricted federal funding for ESCR to existing stem cell lines, but some scientists complained these stem cell colonies were insufficient for their research. In 2006, Bush vetoed a similar bill, the only time he has used a veto pen during his presidency, and has vowed to wield it again if the Senate also votes to extend such funding. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: “The president will certainly veto the legislation if it comes to his desk, because it would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells.” Pro-life House Republicans are attempting to increase federal funding for stem cells derived from amniotic fluid, which are just as promising but avoid most of the ethical questions embryonic stem cells raise.

Embryo survived Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS – Noah Benton Markham, a frozen embryonic human being stored in liquid nitrogen when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, was born in January following a successful IVF treatment to Glen and Rebekah Markham. Noah – born after the flood, get it? – was nearly lost when  the storm hit the Lakeland Hospital, knocking out electricity and the facility’s air conditioning system. Flat-bottomed boats were used to save approximately 1,400 stored frozen embryos within the two-week window that their specially designed tanks would protect them from summertime sweltering temperatures. The boats were essential to keep the 35- and 40-litre tanks upright during the delicate rescue procedure that saw Louisiana State Police and Illinois Conservation Police assist. Noah was created at the Fertility Institute of New Orleans in 2003, but his brother Glen, now 2, was implanted first. The mother expressed her disbelief that the child technologically created for her was once frozen: “I thought the only thing you could freeze was a crab. You freeze a crab and defrost it and it’ll come back to life.”

Anti-HPV vaccine may be compulsory

WASHINGTON – Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil, an anti-human papilloma virus vaccine developed by Merck. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, two of which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. This year, the FDA is expected to approve a similar vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Several states are considering mandating these vaccines for girls enrolling in sixth grade (11-12 year-olds) and the British medical journal The Lancet has editorialized that boys should receive it, too. Business Week reported that Merck’s sales of Gardasil are expected to reach $2 billion – unless it becomes a required vaccine, in which case revenues could reach $4 billion. Fortune magazine reported that the global market for anti-HPV vaccines could reach $8 billion in the next three years. Human Events editor Terrence P. Jeffrey says that while “there can be no disputing that these vaccines are good things … for those who put themselves at risk of infection,” the “cultural costs” of mandating them are great. It will, Jeffrey argues, socialize the risk of promiscuous sexual behaviour by forcing all people, either through the government or through insurance plans, to bear the costs of some people. This, Jeffrey says, furthers the radical agenda of sexual licentiousness by making sex consequence-free

World Briefs

More abortions among the younger and less-educated

OSLO – The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reports that Professor Anne Eskild of Akershus University Hospital has found younger and less-educated women were more likely to have an abortion than older or university-educated women. More than half of pregnant women under the age of 25 had an abortion, twice the rate for women over 40. And only 2.9 per cent of women with a university education had abortions. Eskild blames the country’s generous maternal allowances for the trend, saying that having benefits tied to income disadvantages students. Whereas women who are well-established in their careers can afford to take time off to have children, students do not earn enough to collect benefits and their desire for “career and self-realization” outweigh the meagre benefits from the government.

365,000 babies born with AIDS each year

GENEVA – UNICEF has released a report saying that more than 1,000 children are infected with AIDS/HIV every day, when the disease is transmitted from their pregnant mothers to them “mostly” during or immediately following birth. Without early diagnosis and effective treatment, half of them are expected to die within two years from AIDS-related causes. UNICEF says only 9 per cent of HIV-infected pregnant women in middle- and low-income countries receive anti-retroviral drugs that reduce mother-child transmission of the disease.