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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Planned Parenthood Investigation? Then Also Talk Ending Research

Category: Women's Issues
Posted: 07/24/15 00:49, Edited: 07/24/15 00:51

by Dave Mindeman

Our MN House GOP members want an investigation of Planned Parenthood. They have formally asked Governor Dayton to authorize it.

Fortunately he quickly refused the bait.

While they admit that Boehner already will have Congress investigate any "violation" of Federal Law, for some reason these GOP legislators think that a Minnesota investigation is warranted as well.

And for what reason? If it is a Federal issue that needs to be investigated, by what authority would this request be issued? Minnesota has its own statute, but this "video" didn't take place in Minnesota and there has never been any allegation that any Minnesota clinics have violated any laws.

But let's get back to basics here. This "investigative" video was done over a year ago. If they truly felt Federal violations involved, why wait a year. Why didn't they go public and try to stop the practice immediately?

It's because there were no violations. Planned Parenthood was operating within the law with procedures that are not common but have been done for nearly two decades. Republicans know this - they just want another talking point. Another outrage to have.

Maybe the GOP wants to stop this research. But it has been scrutinized before....

Fetal tissue research was initially allowed under specific conditions and approval by a government Ethics Advisory Board (EAB).

A moratorium was in place for awhile as this same type of discussion came to national attention, but it was reinstated in 1993.

And why has it continued? Because important medical breakthroughs have come as a result. Many of our vaccines have come via this research...and current potential breakthroughs in Parkinson's and similar disorders have made significant progress with fetal tissue research.

Similar type discussions have come because of embryonic stem cell research. And potential medical breakthroughs have been even more promising in that regard.

But there is a lot of discomfort about the processes. Planned Parenthood has followed all the guidelines that have been meticulously discussed and put into best practices. And they only act as one part of the conduits for obtaining the fetal tissue. The law also stipulates that payment for the costs involved are legally justified. Planned Parenthood does not profit from any of this.

This video, a year in the making, is simply meant to make this issue as uncomfortable as possible. The editing of the video made every effort to make the doctor sound as callous as possible.

But there is no investigation needed. Nothing in that video showed any type of lawbreaking. The discussion was uncomfortable, but there were certainly no illegalities to this.

So, let's say that all this publicity and choreographed "revelations" succeed in changing the law so that no fetal research happens. That won't stop the abortions. They will continue.

But they will now have to explain to the millions of people who suffer from diseases that could find improvements from fetal tissue research happening now and should continue if the laws are left alone....that their hope must end.

Tell the Parkinson's sufferers. Tell those with spinal cord injuries. Tell those with ALS. Tell the future that new vaccines will no longer be researched and implemented.

We grapple with medical ethics all the time. We had discussions like this when organ transplants were not the routine procedures they are today.

If you want to end the fetal tissue research practices, yes, you can do that. But if you want that debate, then also discuss the trade offs that are necessary. The research into disease progress that must end. The sufferings of people with long term illnesses that will continue without hope. Be honest about that as well.

I know the MN GOP is always looking to get that knee jerk response that can give them a political edge on abortion issues. But, for once, try not to grandstand on an issue that needs a more reasoned discussion.

That's probably a lot to ask -- since this "outrage" was over a year in the making and cost a lot of time and money to stage.

But for once, just try.
comments (0) permalink

RE: Planned Parenthood And Outrage

Category: Women's Issues
Posted: 07/17/15 07:13, Edited: 07/18/15 17:24

by Dave Mindeman


I know this will be like walking through a minefield but there are things about the "undercover" Planned Parenthood video that need to be said.

Yes, the idea of selling fetal tissue body parts is a revolting idea to confront and yes, the cavalier attitude of the doctor isn't going to win Planned Parenthood any friends, but the self righteous attitudes bearing down on Planned Parenthood because of this have their own revolting demeanor as well.

First, Planned Parenthood isn't doing anything illegal. Research does request and has a need for this tissue and Planned Parenthood does not profit from it; they only recoup their costs - which the law clearly allows. And this also involves consent of the family.

But the people making this video obviously knew that. Otherwise, why would they wait a year to make it public?

Another question is why would they allow some Congressional Republicans to view this a few months in advance, and still not release it?

I think the reason for the long delay is that this was being planned and choreographed for maximum effect and the Congressional Republicans would help with the timing of the release for maximum legislative effect.

A person who was truly concerned about this practice would want it stopped as soon as possible....if it truly was an illegal act. Our undercover sleuths weren't really concerned about a speedy remedy - they were more concerned about political and legislative effect.

Abortion is not something anybody wants. But there is still a legitimate medical need for it. Most of the time women make a decision to have an abortion for medical necessity, family choice, or other complications. Few abortions are done just to "get rid of" the baby or some kind of family planning technique. It is a hard choice. A difficult choice. But it MUST BE A CHOICE.

What is being done with fetal tissue in these instances is at the request of the medical community for research purposes. If people want to end the legalities of this medical use because it is abhorrent or uncomfortable, then yes, let's have that discussion. If these procedures are ended, then so be it. I actually could understand the validity of that notion.

But if the purpose of this is to simply "outlaw" abortion, then you are treading on much shakier ground.

Abortion will not end - legal or illegal - it will continue....and I would prefer that if it must be done, that it be done in a safe and medically appropriate environment.

Those that want to end abortion by any means (and states have found some very innovative ways to make that happen) should consider the inconsistency of this absolutist position.

First, a lot of abortions are necessary to save the life of the mother. If the mother is in medical distress, it seems pretty certain that the fetus is in greater medical distress. Doctors and the mother need to have hands that are untied and able to make the quick and necessary decisions.

Second, there can be fetal development problems that will never lead to a live birth. For the safety of the mother, there needs to be options.

Third, if families are going to be forced to take on a financial burden for a fetus that is destined to have major issues, then the family has to be given a choice as well. If an abortion is not allowed in this situation, then the general taxpayer should take on the additional medical expenses and pay the family that has had their own choice taken away. If we, as a country, are unwilling to take on that expensive burden, then we should shut up.

Fourth, the general idea that we can force a mother to carry a baby to term regardless of her own wishes, needs to be followed with a financial backing of that premise. Society would be better served if the choice to have a child was easier for the mother to make. Not by coercion which is the general premise of the current Pro-Life movement, but by a societal partnership in which we take on the financial and medical burdens which may be a reason a woman feels compelled to choose the abortion.

Of course it is no accident that so many Congressional and Legislative Republicans have immediately expressed their outrage. They have had time to prepare for their statements. And of course the hearings will follow for maximum publicity effect.

But they should tread carefully on any major action on reproductive rights. Women should be deciding this. Not a bunch of blow hard politicians. We can argue about outrageous attitudes and the sensitivity of medical procedures. But to use them as a means to bad policy is bad politics as well.

Note: Jeff in comments shares a link that talks about the editing on this video, which is highly suspect. Read the link.
comments (3) permalink

20 Weeks Is A Number - Not A Policy

Category: Women's Issues
Posted: 05/20/15 22:38

by Dave Mindeman

OK, I'm going to be talking some science here - so I'm sure a lot of GOP supporters will be leaving and especially MCCL members, but here goes anyway.

Let's discuss this 20 week abortion ban that has become the new mandatory issue for Republicans. I'm going to refer to an article on the LifeNews site that gives us all the new "evidence" about scientific fetal research.

The article has a very provacitive title:

Medical Expert Confirms Unborn Children Feel Excruciating Pain During Abortions

The medical expert involved here is David A. Prentice, Ph.D., Vice President and Research Director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Notice that there is not an MD in the title...not that I have anything against Ph.D's, but when you talk medical, I automatically think doctor.

And if you look up the Charlotte Lozier Institute you will get this explanation:

The Charlotte Lozier Institute is the 501(c)(3) research and education institute of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization dedicated to electing candidates and pursuing policies that will reduce and ultimately end abortion.

Ok - so we know where the credentials are coming from, so let's talk about the article. Mr. Prentice gives us an explanation about the 20 week ban...

The science is pretty conclusive at this point. And there are always going to be people, especially those in favor of abortion, who will say, "Oh that really doesn't happen, and they'll throw up a smokescreen. And what they usually do is they refer to an old study back in 2005 that was published actually by people who had associations with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. But the real science - and there's some new things in fact, that have come out in the last few months - but the science pretty conclusively demonstrates: Young babies still in the womb at 20 weeks after conception, and probably even earlier, do indeed feel pain, and in fact, may feel more intense pain than a newborn or an adult.

Wow. Conclusive is a pretty strong word - especially when the experts tend to go pretty much the opposite way on this.

But there is another quote which I find even more suspect....

Question: So one of the arguments that's made is that at twenty weeks the baby doesn't have a mature cerebral cortex. What do you say to that argument?

Prentice: Well, if your listeners aren't up to speed on brain anatomy, the cortex is sort of the outermost part that is, in terms of your conscious thoughts and so on, it's the last part of the brain to develop.

There is indication that some of that neuronal material in your brain is already present, starting to be formed certainly by twenty weeks after conception, but it also turns out that that's not the most important part of your brain for pain perception.

There's another deeper layer that forms early in your brain called the thalamus, deep inside your brain. It forms even earlier in development - probably about 8 to 12 weeks is when you start to see it forming, and those nerve tracks already connect to the thalamus by the time you are 20 weeks after conception, or after fertilization.

In fact, there are individuals who are born without the cerebral cortex, and they feel pain. We know that for a fact.

So, you don't need that cortical layer to actually feel pain. What you need are these deeper parts of the brain and simply the neural tracks for sensation. And those are definitely formed, intact, and responding by twenty weeks after conception.

There is a difference in having pain receptors which can be stimulated and the actual perception of pain - which requires brain development.

Although the thalamus starts to develop in the 8 to 12 week period, the inner workings of the thalamus are not complete until 24 to 26 weeks of gestation. In addition, most scientists believe that the perception of pain requires consciousness, sentience, and external stimuli. Outside of a rudimentary thalamus, the fetus has none of those criteria.

Anti-choice activists have used this "science" of fetal pain to promote a sympathetic ear among legislators - many of which have an anti-choice slant anyway.

A fetus can "react" to pain stimuli in much the same way as a sleeping person might have a reflexive action to being touched. It is not perceived by a brain that can interpret it and to actually attribute a sentient action is not a rational extrapolation.

Humans are conditioned to think of fetal protection and protecting a person. It is a necessary condition and a natural reaction for people who have kids or want kids.

And I am not going to question anyone's beliefs about abortion. That is a personal choice and belief. But this "pain" argument is not scientific and it is not something upon which to base a legislative policy decision.

When it comes to choice decisions in a pregnancy, it is easy to use human emotion to push an agenda. And I would hope that human emotion is never removed from the choice process. But to make a blanket legislative policy on disputed and questionable science - and promoting it as fact - is just not rational and must be rejected.

20 weeks is a number...and only that.
comments (1) permalink
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