The Humanitas Project


Living in the Biotech Century

News, Resources, and Commentary

September 15, 2005



Increasingly, this looks like a true story—why isn’t the U.S. media covering it?


Patients Put Down



“Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leave them to die in agony as they evacuated.


“With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.


“One New Orleans doctor told how she ‘prayed for God to have mercy on her soul’ after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.


“Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials.


“One emergency official, William Forest McQueen, said: ‘Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die....’”


The Daily Telegraph – September 12, 2005




Please forward this e-mail to anyone who might be interested in staying abreast of the rapidly changing developments in biotechnology and the related area of bioethics.  For more information on The Humanitas Project, contact Michael Poore, Executive Director, at 931-528-2408 or .  Or visit The Humanitas Project web site at



For readers in Middle Tennessee...



The Humanitas Project will bring Ken Myers, Host and Producer of Mars Hill Audio, to Nashville for three lectures on September 29 and 30.


On Thursday, September 29, Ken will speak twice on the campus of Vanderbilt University.  At noon he will give a talk to faculty and graduate students entitled “Faithful Stewards or Terrestrial Gods?  Christianity and the Chief End of Science.”  At 5 p.m. he will speak to an audience of undergraduates:  “Is Jesus Just Spiritual Prozac?” 


Ken’s third lecture, “Word Made Flesh, Flesh Made Whole:  The Embodied Character of Salvation and the Basis of Bioethics,” will be presented at Belmont Church on Friday evening, September 30.  Additional details, including directions to Belmont Church, are available at The Humanitas Project website.


For additional information, please  Michael Poore, Executive Director of The Humanitas Project.


When humans and their bodies become commodities...


Scandal of Newborn Babies Stolen from Their Mothers


Women in Ukraine tell how their children were taken from them in the hospital delivery room, never to be seen again



“It seemed, at first, to be an uncomplicated birth.


“After two hours of labour, Svetlana Pusikova delivered her firstborn at 4 a.m. on November 4, 2002. Medical staff whisked the baby out of the delivery room, leaving the 22-year-old waitress to recover in Maternity Hospital No 6 in Kharkov, eastern Ukraine.


“She never saw the child again.


“Seven weeks later Yelena Stulnyeva gave birth at the same hospital. She says she saw her baby girl wriggling and heard her crying before medical staff took her away.


“She, too, never saw her daughter again.


“In both cases the hospital says the babies were stillborn, and buried by local authorities because the parents did not ask for the corpses.


“But both sets of parents say hospital authorities repeatedly refused their requests to see the babies, and have yet to provide proof of where and when they were buried.


“The truth, they fear, may be more harrowing — that their babies were either stolen for adoption, or sold for research into bioproducts used in medicines and cosmetics....”


Times Online – September 10, 2005


But Kass will remain on the President’s Council for Bioethics...


Bioethics Council Head to Step Down

by Rick Weiss



Leon R. Kass said he was burdened as council chairman by administrative work. (Ray Lustig - Twp)

“Leon R. Kass, the University of Chicago medical ethicist who four years ago today was named by President Bush to head the newly created President’s Council on Bioethics, will step down as chairman Oct. 1, the White House announced late Wednesday [Sept. 7].


“Kass, who led the 18-member group of philosophers, scientists, theologians and legal scholars as it plumbed the turbulent debates over human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, the creation of animal-human hybrids and other topics raised by rapid advances in biotechnology, asked to be relieved of the chairmanship, council spokeswoman Diane Gianelli said.


“‘He loved the job’ and will continue to serve as a member of the council, Gianelli said, but he had been feeling increasingly burdened by the amount of work involved in being chairman.


“The White House said it had selected as the new chairman Edmund Pellegrino, 85, a professor emeritus of medicine and medical ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center and a former president of Catholic University. He will join the council in October....”


Washington Post – September 9, 2005


Potential causes of premature births:  high rates of induced births, C-sections, and the use of fertility drugs...


Rate of Premature Birth Hits New High in U.S.



“The U.S. premature-birth rate has hit a record high, the latest CDC figures show.


“The new figures cover the year 2003. They show that premature babies now make up 12.3 percent of all births — a 30 percent increase since detailed record keeping began in 1981....


“The new data are ‘troubling,’ says Joyce A. Martin, MPH, lead statistician for the CDC’s division of vital statistics. Martin is the lead author of the CDC’s newly released Births: Final Data for 2003.


“‘It is of concern nationally that this important indicator of child health continues to deteriorate,’ Martin tells WebMD....”


WebMD/Fox – September 10, 2005


Manufacturing embryos:  embryos without a father, embryos with two mothers...


The ‘Virgin Conception’ of First Human Embryo in UK



“Scientists have created Britain’s first human embryos using a revolutionary ‘virgin conception’ technique.


“A research team from Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, which also created Dolly the sheep, took eggs from women undergoing sterilisation and stimulated them to start dividing as if they had been fertilised.


“Six grew into embryos created without the addition of any new genetic material, either from sperm or a clone donor....


“The news comes a day after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority granted permission for scientists to produce an embryo with genetic material from two mothers for the first time in Britain.” – September 10, 2005


Manufacturing embryos—conducting research on early, developing human beings...


Concern Over Three-Parent Embryo



The aim is to get healthy offspring free of inherited genetic disorders

“Critics have expressed horror about research to create a human embryo with genetic material from three parents.


“The Human Fertilisation and Embryology has reversed its ban on the controversial proposal from the University of Newcastle.


“The researchers will transfer genetic material created when an egg and sperm fuse into another woman’s egg.


“The groundbreaking work aims to prevent mothers from passing certain genetic diseases on to their unborn babies.


“Such diseases arise from DNA found outside the nucleus, and thus inherited separately from DNA in the nucleus.


“They are collectively called mitochondrial diseases....”


BBC News – September 9, 2005


Additional information on this genetic transfer procedure is provided in “Q&A: Two Mother Embryo,” also available from BBC News.


Is a gorilla on Valium still a gorilla?


Zoos Prescribe Drugs to Anxious Animals



“A gorilla and a tiger on Valium. A swamp monkey on anti-psychotic medicine.


“The Toledo Zoo, like many other zoos around the nation, is increasingly using antidepressants and tranquilizers to manage their animals’ behavioral problems.


“Sometimes, zoo keepers use drugs to calm down animals when they are at odds or when they are moved into a new enclosure....”


The Associated Press/ – September 12, 2005


Failing to care for the frail and elderly in a time of disaster...


Lawsuits, Charges Sure to Follow Katrina



“The arrest of two nursing-home owners in the deaths of 34 elderly patients could be just the beginning of an effort by prosecutors and plaintiffs’ attorneys to assign blame and hold accountable those responsible for some of the lives lost in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters.


“Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, who announced the charges against Salvador and Mable Mangano on Tuesday, is promising to investigate every hospital and nursing home death for signs of negligence....


“In the negligent homicide case against the Manganos, prosecutors allege the couple were warned of the approaching hurricane and failed to evacuate the residents of St. Rita’s Nursing Home before the floodwaters engulfed the place. ‘Their inaction resulted in the deaths,’ Foti said....”


Seattle Post-Intelligencer – September 14, 2005


Worth considering...


From The Anti-Theology of the Body

by David B. Hart



“The materialist who wishes to see modern humanity’s Baconian mastery over cosmic nature expanded to encompass human nature as well—granting us absolute power over the flesh and what is born from it, banishing all fortuity and uncertainty from the future of the race—is someone who seeks to reach the divine by ceasing to be human, by surpassing the human, by destroying the human. It is a desire both fantastic and depraved: a diseased titanism, the dream of an infinite passage through monstrosity, a perpetual and ruthless sacrifice of every present good to the featureless, abysmal, and insatiable god who is to come. For the Christian to whom [Pope] John Paul speaks, however, one can truly aspire to the divine only through the charitable cultivation of glory in the flesh, the practice of holiness, the love of God and neighbor; and, in so doing, one seeks not to take leave of one’s humanity, but to fathom it in its ultimate depth, to be joined to the Godman who would remake us in himself, and so to become simul divinus et creatura. This is a pure antithesis. For those who, on the one hand, believe that life is merely an accidental economy of matter that should be weighed by a utilitarian calculus of means and ends and those who, on the other, believe that life is a supernatural gift oriented towards eternal glory, every moment of existence has a different significance and holds a different promise. To the one, a Down syndrome child (for instance) is a genetic scandal, one who should probably be destroyed in the womb as a kind of oblation offered up to the social good and, of course, to some immeasurably remote future; to the other, that same child is potentially (and thus far already) a being so resplendent in his majesty, so mighty, so beautiful that we could scarcely hope to look upon him with the sinful eyes of this life and not be consumed....”


David B. Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and author of The Beauty of the Infinite. This essay was published in the Summer 2005 issue of The New Atlantis and is available online.




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