RU-486: In a randomized trial involved 11 family planning sites located in six countries, The Task Force on Postovulatory Methods of Fertility Control studied more than 1,700 women. To properly test the compound, RU-486 (mifepristone) was given in single doses of 600 mg, 50 mg and 10 mg within five days of unprotected intercourse. Because there were no significant differences in effectiveness among the three groups of women, researchers argue that the lower dose (10-mg) would be cheaper, better tolerated, and easier to distribute.
Comment: Researchers were not prepared to conclude that mifepristone is a better choice than levonorgestrel, the most popular “emergency contraceptive.” No discussion on the abortive action of the chemical is included in the study.
(Reading: “Comparison of Three Single Doses of Mifepristone as Emergency Contraception: A Randomized Trial,” The Lancet, 2/27/99, pp. 697-702)
clinical research on human subjects
DEBATE: Some patients who are involved in research to determine the efficacy of certain treatments are unable to provide informed consent because of their condition. The American Medical News reports that members of the scientific community are finding it difficult to balance the rights of those patients with advancing “research into new therapies for life-threatening or debilitating conditions that currently lack effective treatment.”
This follows on the heels of the news report that six doctors were charged in Pennsylvania for abusing, neglecting and assaulting the mentally retarded.
Comment: The real question is whether or not human beings have intrinsic value or are considered less than fully human because they are different!
(Reading: “ Ethical Concerns Focus Microscope on Research Rules,” American Medical News, 3/1/99, pp. 1,30; “Six doctors charged in abuse of the mentally retarded,” New York Times, 2/27/99)
SIDE EFFECTS: A study by Brazilian scientists addressing bone density in women who used depot-medroxyprogesterone (DMPA-Depo Provera) indicates that bone density is negatively affected among those women who used Depo Provera in their early thirties. Researchers point out that there is a possibility that bone density can be restored if the woman stops using Depo Provera early enough, but “this will not happen … with women who lose bone mass and continue using the method up to the time of menopause.” Researchers recommend that family planning clinics and other programs that use Depo Provera provide periodic bone density testing on their clients who are older than 40.
Comment: Although they have found that women can suffer serious problems with bone density as they near 40, the testing to avoid the problem is not recommended for women in their 30’s. Is controlling fertility and destroying human beings at fertilization more important than helping women retain their health and well being?
(Reading: “Bone Density Among Long-Term Users of Medroxyprogesterone Acetate as a Contraceptive,” Contraception, 12/98, pp. 351-355)
HEMLOCK FOUNDER EXPOSES TRUTH: Reviewing Humphrey’s new book, Freedom to Die: People, Politics and the Right-to-Die Movement, Richard Doerflinger writes in Life at Risk: “Humphrey even gives favorable attention to the idea that elderly citizens have a ‘duty to die’ for the good of family and society. He predicts that insurance companies and Medicare will require patients to sign ‘living wills’ refusing aggressive treatment as a condition for receiving health coverage, and that elderly patients will be helped to hasten death as ‘the morally correct things to do for the family.’”
(Reading: “Hemlock Founder Slams ‘Greedy Geezers,’” Life at Risk, 1/99)
XENOTRANSPLANTATION: French researchers report that an ongoing problem with the shortage in human organs has created some interest in advancing proposals to use organs from animals in humans. They suggest that the more people learn about the ability of science to use animal organs in humans, the more receptive the public will become.
(Reading: “Survey in France of Response to Xenotransplantation,” The Lancet, 2/27/99, p. 729)
For more information, visit http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/Med/xenobkgd.htm
peter singer protest
PRINCETON STUDENTS RALLY: Princeton Students Against Infanticide (PSAI), led by Christopher J. Benek, have issued a statement protesting the hiring of “bioethicist ” Peter Singer, recently appointed as the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics. The statement declares “We protest his hiring because Dr. Singer denies the intrinsic moral worth of an entire class of human beings–newborn children–and promotes policies that would deprive many handicapped infants of their basic human right to legal protection against homicide.”
(Reading: “ Statement on the Hiring of Peter Singer,” Princeton Students Against Infanticide)
Contact PSAI by phone (609) 688-1490 or e-mail “>)
WEB SITE PROVOCATIVE: Thanks to the generosity of Microsoft, among other providers, a new web site offers to tell you how many potential babies will be conceived on a given day, how crowded the world is getting and what you can do about it. 6 Billion Human Beings is filled with the scare-tactic propaganda of the population control industry. Without a Java-friendly computer, you cannot view all of the deceptive graphics.
INTERVALS BETWEEN PREGNANCIES: Researchers studying the birth certificates for 173,205 singleton infants born alive from 1989 to 1996 in Utah concluded that the optimal interval between pregnancies is 18 to 23 months. Based on their study, several suggestions are provided to help mothers space children for “optimizing” the result. Troublesome it is, but they suggest “Public health programs could identify women who become pregnant after short or long interpregnancy intervals, especially those who have other risk factors (such as tobacco or alcohol use or a young or advanced maternal age) for interventions to improve perinatal outcomes. Public health agencies could consider measures to improve family-planning and fertility services.”
Comment: Why is it that such a study would not examine the values of natural methods of spacing children, breast-feeding and other tools nature has provided? Is pregnancy just another technological challenge?
(Reading: “Effect of the Interval Between Pregnancies on Perinatal Outcomes, ” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2/25/99, pp. 589-593; lead researcher “>Bao-Ping Zhu, M.D.)
TRANSMITTER IN UTERO? “NASA’s Ames Research Center has developed a tiny transmitter that can be implanted in a mother’s womb to monitor the health of an unborn child,” reports NASA Tech Briefs, February 1999, page 16. Because there are currently no devices small enough to monitor these babies, NASA developed this device, which was desired by physicians who perform surgery on babies in the womb and needed a way to monitor their progress.
(Reading: “Keeping an Eye on Baby,” NASA Tech Briefs, 2/ 99, p.16)
Visit http://www.arc.nasa.gov for details.
PRECONCEPTIVE TRAIT SELECTION: Providing editorial comment on the ability parents have to select traits through genetic manipulation, Dr. Jonathan Berkowitz points out that “preconceptive sex and race selection enhances procreative liberty,” and warns that “these procedures are disturbing because they potentially reflect parental expectations of gender- and race-appropriate stereotypical behavior.” And he concludes “The Human Genome Project will enable us to elucidate and ultimately influence the mechanisms of intelligence, personality, and physical development. Never before has the gap between science fiction and reality been so narrow. History is watching.”
The opposing view, presented by Dr. Richard Paulson, argues that “…the exercise of reproductive options is now widely socially accepted, with contraceptives readily available and access to family planning services unrestricted. Life-style is no longer subordinate to the tides of ‘natural’ reproduction. Our mission is not to abridge reproductive choice but to enhance it.”
(Reading: “Sexism and racism in preconceptive trait selection, Fertility and Sterility,” by “>Jonathon M. Berkowitz, M.D., 3/99, pp. 415-417; “Political correctness and the abridgement of reproductive choice,” Fertility and Sterility, 3/99, pp. 418-419)
UNINTENDED: Assistant Professor of Medicine “>Joseph Stanford believes that words play havoc with morality in America. He is a co-author of the newly published study, “Exploring the Concepts of Intended, Planned and Wanted Pregnancy” published in The Journal of Family Practice. In their concluding summary, the researchers state, “Physicians should explore the attitudes and circumstances of pregnant women, rather than focusing on whether they pregnancy was planned. Support from the significant other and the woman’s underlying values about parenthood seem to be of particular importance. Our results also suggest that further studies are needed to determine the best method for measuring the intention status of pregnancy for research and policy.”
(Reading: Fischer, et al., “Exploring the Concepts of Intended, Planned and Wanted Pregnancy,” The Journal of Family Practice, 2/99, pp. 117-122)
ABSTINENCE: Abstinence Counseling Training Institute, June 4-5, 1999, Marywood Retreat Center, 2811 E. Villa Real Drive, Orange, California, sponsored by International Life Services, and featuring Sr. Paula Vandegaer, Molly Kelly and others. For details contact International Life Services, phone 213-382-2156; fax 213-382-4203 or write 2606 � West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057
DELAWARE: Annual convention of Delaware Pro-Life set for March 20 at the Hilton in Claymont. Speakers include Brent Bozell, Lawrence Roberge, Teresa Bell and others. For information, call Marie Redfield at 302-292-CARE.
WISCONSIN: ALL Unity Conference in Oconomowoc on March 27. Speakers include “>Judie Brown of American Life League, “>Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood International, “>Mark DeYoung of WhyLife? and others. For information, e-mail “>Bridget Carroll or call her at 540-659-4171.
“You must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called.”
-1 Timothy 6:11-12