The Humanitas Project


Living in the Biotech Century

News, Resources, and Commentary

December 21, 2006



“It’s about money...about stem cells”—the Council of Europe investigation begins in February...


The Babies Who Are Murdered to Order

by Matthew Hill



Stem cells unfortunately are part of a lucrative international trade

“The plastic bag looks as if it contains meat. But then a right leg is taken from it and placed surgically on the morgue table, followed by the left one. Then the torso. The head follows, a gaping cavity where the brain used to be.


“But it is only when the gloved hand of the pathologist examines the tiny fingers of a baby aged about 30 weeks that the full horror of what I am witnessing sinks in.


“This shocking scene was captured on video at post-mortem examinations carried out on behalf of Ukrainian mothers who claim their babies were stolen from them at birth.


“The film was shown to me by an incredibly brave charity worker called Tatyana Zhakarova, who represents up to 300 families who believe their healthy babies were deliberately targeted at a maternity hospital in the Ukraine’s most easterly city of Kharkiv.


“The babies, believes Tatyana, were taken at birth to have their organs and stem cells harvested as part of a sickening but highly lucrative international trade.


“Certainly, the Ukraine has become the main supplier of the global stem cell trade.


“Officially, the cells are taken from aborted foetuses with the mothers’ consent, but according to Tatyana, there could also be hundreds of babies stolen to order, to feed demand for stem cells from around the world....”


Daily Mail – December 18, 2006




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



A culture that permits abortion will naturally permit the cannibalization of aborted fetuses...


Doctors Turn to Aborted Fetus to Save Boy’s Life


Experimental procedure transplanted stem cells into 6-year-old’s brain



IMAGE: Marcus Kerner (L) and Daniel Kerner

Sang H. Park / AP file

Marcus Kerner kisses his 6-year-old son Daniel Kerner, who has Batten disease, at his home in Trabuco Canyon, Calif.

“Daniel Kerner’s parents knew the experimental brain surgery was risky, but without it the 6-year-old surely would die.


“Last month in Portland, Ore., doctors for the first time transplanted stem cells from aborted fetuses into his head in a desperate bid to reverse, or at least slow, a rare genetic disorder called Batten disease. The so-far incurable condition normally results in blindness and paralysis before death.


“Doctors don’t know if the neural stem cells taken from fetuses—donated to a nonprofit medical foundation by women aborting early-stage pregnancies—will save Daniel’s life. But the boy has sufficiently recovered from his 8-hour surgery to be expected to return to his Orange County, Calif., home Friday—the first day of Hanukkah....”


MSNBC/Associated Press – December 11, 2006


Support The Humanitas Project


Please consider supporting The Humanitas Project with a special year-end gift!


If you have benefited from “Living in the Biotech Century” and would like to join us in our efforts to keep others abreast of important developments in bioethics and biotechnology, please consider making a special year-end gift.


Gifts may be mailed to The Humanitas Project, P.O. Box 2282, Cookeville, TN 38502.  The Humanitas Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all gifts are tax deductible.


Thank you!


Michael Poore

Executive Director

The Humanitas Project


“It is time for a complete rethink of how we approach IVF...”


High-Dose Fertility Drugs Put Mothers and Babies at Risk



“Thousands of infertile women who undergo IVF treatment are risking themselves and their embryos because they are receiving too many strong hormonal drugs, new research reveals today.


“More than 10,000 children—around 1.5 per cent of all live births—are born in the UK each year using the treatments. For years, clinics have chosen to place several embryos in the womb to give the best possible chance of a pregnancy, often leading to multiple pregnancies that are dangerous in themselves because they can lead to premature delivery.


“Now two studies discussed at a conference in London last week show that women who receive high doses of drugs to stimulate their ovaries into producing lots of eggs—so that the best possible ones can be picked once the egg has been fertilised by sperm in the laboratory—are more likely to produce embryos with genetic defects and suffer harmful changes to their womb lining.


“Most embryos will never develop into babies because the defects make it impossible for them to survive when they are implanted back into the womb. But the discovery explains why so many fertility treatments fail, with thousands of women going through several expensive and painful cycles of treatment in the hope of having a child. It will add to worries that some genetic changes may occur in the children which are not yet being picked up by doctors....”


The Observer – December 17, 2006


“It’s hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won’t matter...”


My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor

by Katrina Clark



“I really wasn’t expecting anything the day, earlier this year, when I sent an e-mail to a man whose name I had found on the Internet. I was looking for my father, and in some ways this man fit the bill. But I never thought I’d hit pay dirt on my first try. Then I got a reply—with a picture attached.


“From my computer screen, my own face seemed to stare back at me. And just like that, after 17 years, the missing piece of the puzzle snapped into place.


“The puzzle of who I am.


“I’m 18, and for most of my life, I haven’t known half my origins. I didn’t know where my nose or jaw came from, or my interest in foreign cultures. I obviously got my teeth and my penchant for corny jokes from my mother, along with my feminist perspective.


“But a whole other part of me was a mystery.


“That part came from my father. The only thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never seen a picture of him. I didn’t know his name. My mother never talked about him—because she didn’t have a clue who he was.


“When she was 32, my mother—single, and worried that she might never marry and have a family—allowed a doctor wearing rubber gloves to inject a syringe of sperm from an unknown man into her uterus so that she could have a baby. I am the result: a donor-conceived child.


“And for a while, I was pretty angry about it....”


Katrina Clark is a student in the undergraduate hearing program at Gallaudet University.


The Washington Post – December 17, 2006 (free registration required)


Sorting out the relationship between hormone therapy and breast cancer...


Breast Cancer Rate Dropped with Halt in Hormone Use

by Todd Ackerman


M.D. Anderson calls menopause therapy’s end ‘the most likely cause’



“The most significant decline ever recorded in U.S. breast cancer rates may have been the result of millions of older women stopping hormone replacement therapy, according to a new analysis.


“Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center revealed Thursday that the rate dropped 7 percent in 2003 and suggested a striking reason: women’s abandonment of menopause hormones after a large study was stopped the year before because the pills were increasing health risks.


“‘Something clearly went right in 2003, and the most likely explanation is that was when women stopped hormone replacement therapy,’ said Dr. Peter Ravdin, an M.D. Anderson biostatistician. ‘We considered a number of other possibilities, but nothing else changed so dramatically that year....’”


Houston Chronicle – December 15, 2006


“The uncertainty surrounding genetic discrimination continues.”


The Impact of Genetic Discrimination



Genetics & Public Policy Center

“Genetic testing has grown dramatically in the past decade, and is increasingly becoming an integral part of health care. Currently, genetic tests for about 1000 diseases are clinically available, and several hundred more are under development. These tests can help diagnose genetic conditions and guide treatment decisions, help predict risk of future disease, inform reproductive decision making, and assist medication choices or dosing.


“The advent of genetic testing raises a number of questions about how an individual’s genetic information can be used. In particular, can employers use genetic information to make hiring and firing decisions? Can insurance companies deny people coverage based on their genetic test results?


“Despite widespread, longstanding agreement among American citizens and politicians that protection from genetic discrimination should be clear and consistent, individuals’ genetic information is protected only by a largely untested patchwork of state and federal regulations....”


Genetics and Public Policy Center – October 24, 2006


When medicine is not practiced for the benefit of the patient...


Should Severely Disabled Kids Be Kept Small?


6-year-old given hormones to stunt growth so parents can care for her



“In a report published in a medical journal this month, two doctors describe a 6-year-old girl with profound, irreversible developmental disability who was given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth so that her parents could continue to care for her at home.


“The controversial growth-attenuation treatment, which included hysterectomy, was requested by the child’s parents and initiated after careful consultation and review by an ethics committee...


“The parents of the 6-year-old, both of whom were college-educated professionals, indicated a strong desire to continue caring for their daughter. Despite having the neurologic development no greater than that of an infant, the 6-year-old responds to her parents and two healthy siblings—vocalizing and smiling in response to care and affection—and ‘clearly is an integral, and much loved, member of the family,’ the authors note....”


MSNBC/Reuters – November 1, 2006


Debating the “property” in the human body...


Dying Fla. Man Not Entitled to Friend’s Kidney


Court ruled widow’s promise doesn’t mean he was guaranteed of transplant



“If you’re promised an organ for a transplant in New York, that doesn’t mean you own it.


“Citing 17th-century British common law on grave robbing, the state’s highest court unanimously ruled Thursday that a Florida man did not own a kidney promised to him by the widow of a lifelong friend.


“The state Court of Appeals said it relied in part on Lord Coke’s 400-year-old pronouncement ‘that a corpse has no value’ to decide that Robert Colavito had no right to Peter Lucia’s kidney and the New York Organ Donor Network legally gave it to another patient....”


MSNBC/Associated Press – December 14, 2006


Editor’s Note:  Over the past several months a very useful debate about the commodification of the human body has been conducted in the pages of The New Atlantis.  The two original articles were written by Eric Cohen, “Biotechnology and the Spirit of Capitalism,” and Gilbert Meilaender, “Gifts of the Body.”  For the Fall 2006 issue, the editors solicited two additional essays specifically about “organ markets and the new commerce of the body.”  In the first, Peter Augustine Lawler argues against commodifying the human body in “Is the Body Property?”  Then, an opposing position is presented by Benjamin Hippen in “The Case for Kidney Markets.”  All four articles are available online.


“The problems raised by egg donation go well beyond donor safety.”


Selling Her Body, a Few Eggs at a Time

by Michael Poore


The Commodification of Motherhood



“The women at elite colleges and universities see the ads all the time: WANTED: egg donor, tall, attractive, athletic, good health, under age 26, SAT scores above 1,300, compensation $5,000. A very attractive offer for a busy, cash-strapped college student. At more prestigious schools—Harvard, Yale, or Brown—the offering price can range from $15,000 to $60,000 per donor cycle. A few years ago an ad ran in the Stanford Daily offering $100,000.


“Students are not the only respondents to such ads. A recent article in USA Today describes a Virginia attorney who received $7,500 for her first donation of fifteen eggs, and she expects to receive another $7,500 for a second cycle. This money will be used to help pay off her $175,000 college debt. Women with families also sell their eggs. Whether a working mother or stay-at-home mom, these women have a track record—they have already produced children with their eggs.


“Even so, the attorney and the Ivy League grad student may have an advantage over the stay-at-home mom in the human egg market—a market in which the highest prices go to those who possess the characteristics most in demand: intelligence as demonstrated by academic achievement, beauty, athletic ability, and a family history of good health....”


BreakPoint Worldview Magazine – October, 2006




Support The Humanitas Project


Thank you for considering a special gift to The Humanitas Project.  Gifts should be mailed to The Humanitas Project, P.O. Box 2282, Cookeville, TN 38502.



Worth considering...


from What We Know About Embryonic Stem Cells

by Maureen L. Condic


Current Issue

“The hubris of scientists in the field of embryonic stem cell research who confidently asserted ‘Give us a few years of unrestricted funding and we will solve these serious scientific problems and deliver miraculous stem cell cures’ was evident in 2002, and it is even more evident today. For the past five years, researchers have had completely unrestricted funding to conduct research on animal embryonic stem cells, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. They have had every conceivable tool of modern molecular research available to them for use in animal models, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. Millions of dollars have been consumed, and hundreds of scientific papers published, and yet the problems still remain. The promised miraculous cures have not materialized even for mice, much less for men.


“In June 2004, Ron McKay at the National Institutes of Health acknowledged in a Washington Post interview that scientists have not been quick to correct exaggerated claims of the medical potential of embryonic stem cells, yet McKay justified this dishonesty by stating: ‘To start with, people need a fairy tale. Maybe that’s unfair, but they need a story line that’s relatively simple to understand.’ Isn’t it time Americans recognize the promise of obtaining medical miracles from embryonic stem cells for the fairy tale it really is?”


Maureen L. Condic is an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine and conducts research on the development and regeneration of the nervous system.  “What We Know About Embryonic Stem Cells” is published in the January 2007 issue of First Things.




Living in the Biotech Century is produced, twice monthly, by The Humanitas Project.  Please note that after a period of time, some web pages may no longer be available due to expiration or a change of address.  Other pages may still be available, but only for a fee.


The views expressed in these resources are not necessarily those of The Humanitas Project.  Our goal is to provide access to information from various sides of the debate.  Ethically and morally, The Humanitas Project unapologetically defends both human dignity and the sanctity of human life in all contexts, from the vantage point of historic Christianity.


Feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone who might be interested in these issues.  To subscribe or unsubscribe to Living in the Biotech Century, visit our website at, or e-mail .  The Humanitas Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all gifts are tax deductible.  For more information on The Humanitas Project, contact Michael Poore, Executive Director, at 931-528-2408 or .


Copyright © 2005