Stem Cell Research, Plan B Lawsuit, Euthanasia Debate in Britian in the News

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stem Cell Research, Plan B Lawsuit, Euthanasia Debate in Britian in the News Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 15, 2005

Stem Cell Programming Could Solve Stem Cell Research Dilemmas
Washington, DC ( —
Scientists say the process of stem cell programming could solve the intense debate between advocates and opponents of embryonic stem cell research. Imagine being able to reprogram the cells of your own body to produce fresh heart cells, regenerated nerve cells to heal spinal cord injuries, pancreatic cells to stop diabetes—or any other type of tissue to cure what ails you. Somatic cell reprogramming, also known as dedifferentiation, might be able to do that. Robert Lanza, vice president of Advanced Cell Technology, is one of the top apologists for embryonic stem cell research, but his company is also working on stem cell programming. "Our group, and I know at least two or three others, are playing with different techniques, and it’s very clear that something is going on here. We’re definitely getting reprogramming," he told MSNBC. Leon Kass, chairman of the US President’s Council on Bioethics, thinks the research could help break the impasse. "I think that’s where the gold is buried," he said, calling it the "most exciting new development" in stem cell research.

Planned Parenthood May File Lawsuit if FDA Doesn’t OK Plan B
Washington, DC ( —
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, may file a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration if it fails to approve the over the counter sales of the morning after pill later this month. By the end of August, FDA officials are expected to rule on a request by Barr Laboratories to sell the Plan B drug at pharmacies nationwide without a prescription. The company wants women over the age of 16 to be able to purchase the drugs. Pro-life groups oppose the idea because the pills sometimes cause an abortion, don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases, and because physicians can play an important role in helping patients. If the FDA disapproves the request, Planned Parenthood interim president Karen Pearl says her group may sue. "The FDA really ignored the scientific evidence," Pearl says. "This is absolutely the best way of assuring that when something does go wrong, that people have that second opportunity to prevent the unintended pregnancy."

FDA Restricts Acne Drug Accutane Because It Hurts Unborn Babies
Washington, DC ( —
The Food and Drug Administration has placed tough new restrictions on the anti-acne drug Accutane because it can cause birth defects for unborn children. Teens and young adults are more likely users of the medication. Everyone who uses the acne drug Accutane will have to enroll in a national registry, along with every doctor who prescribes it and every drugstore that sells it. Both male and female patients will have to enroll in the registry, called iPLEDGE, by Dec. 31 or they can no longer receive Accutane. Young women of childbearing age who use the drug are also supposed to have two negative pregnancy tests before they are eligible to use the drug. They must also have another negative pregnancy test before a refill. In a more controversial step, the FDA is requiring women using the drug to use two methods of birth control and to enter those on the FDA database. There was no word as to whether abstinence would count as meeting the requirement.

British Woman Ends Hunger Protest to Legalize Assisted Suicide
London, England ( —
A terminally ill 28 year-old woman has ended her hunger protest in the U.K. She had hoped it would prompt the government there to approve a bill to legalize assisted suicide. Kelly Taylor had waited nearly 10 years for a heart and lung transplant, but was taken off the list two years ago. Doctors told her they could not find a match and there was no medication or treatment which could help her. She’d like a physician to help her kill herself, but Britain is not one of the handful of places worldwide that allows it. Taylor ended her protest on Thursday as a result of the intense pain and discomfort. "I decided this [the hunger strike] was the only way I could do it because of the laws in this country, which are against euthanasia," she said about the protest. The assisted suicide bill has been postponed in Parliament while elections occur.

Indiana Pro-Lifers Upset Planned Parenthood Rented Gov. Mansion
Indianapolis, IN ( —
Pro-life advocates in Indiana are upset that Planned Parenthood was allowed to rent the governor’s mansion for an event to honor volunteers at the state’s largest abortion business. Any organization can rent the mansion, which is undergoing renovations. The governor does not reside there at this time. Despite that, pro-life advocates said it was improper and protested outside the event. "The purpose was to express our disgust at the fact that Planned Parenthood throws a party at our governor’s mansion," Eileen Hartman said. State Senator Jeff Drozda, a Republican, also attended the protest and voiced his concerns. "How can you let an organization who is under criminal investigation at the present time, have use of the governor’s mansion," he asked. Drozda is referring to an investigation being conducted by Attorney General Steve Carter that Planned Parenthood has been performing illegal abortions and not adequately reporting cases of statutory rape.

Maryland Backers of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Push for $
Annapolis, MD ( —
Backers of embryonic stem cell research in Maryland renewed their campaign last week to push for state taxpayer dollars to be used for the unproven research. A filibuster in the state Senate stopped a bill that could have spent as much as $23 million on research involving the cells that come from destroying unborn children. A new advocacy group involving three former governors has sprung up to push another effort. "It really gets down to the state level, it looks like, to solve these problems," said former governor Harry R. Hughes, who appeared at an emotional news conference in Annapolis with families affected by various diseases and conditions. Opponents of the measure say those families are better served by noncontroversial adult stem cells, which have already yielded dozens of cures and treatments. Senate Minority Whip Andrew Harris says there’s no reason to back off from the filibuster. "As far as I know, nothing’s changed," he said. "The science hasn’t changed. The ethics haven’t changed. I think we’ll see the same outcome again."