Wednesday, August 20, 2014



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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson 


U.S. Supreme Court unanimously blocks gay ‘marriages’ in Virginia…for now

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the state of Virginia does not have to begin sanctioning same-sex “marriages.” The stay comes after a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to strike down the state's constitutional marriage protection amendment.
The appeals court refused to grant a stay until the Supreme Court decided the case, a decision that would have forced Virginia clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting this week.
However, one such clerk, Michele B. McQuigg, petitioned Chief Justice John Roberts to grant a stay. The order was allowed without dissent.
“This is another indication that the rush to judgment declaring marriage to be unconstitutional is not only premature, but incorrect,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. “The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that states have the right to define marriage and we remain confident that they will uphold all the various traditional marriage laws and constitutional amendments that have been wrongly invalidated by federal judges.”
McQuigg's lawyer, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione, said the stay indicated that the justices believe that a dignified process is better than disorder. The Supreme Court acted wisely in restraining the lower court from implementing a ruling of this magnitude before the high court has a chance to decide the issue.”
Family Research Council Senior Fellow Chris Gacek said, without the stay, same-sex “marriages” maybe entered into that would later have to be nullified. Such irresponsible mayhem has been witnessed in Utah, and it resulted in legal chaos for state residents and state officials.
In a turnabout, Democratic state Attorney General Mark Herring, who faced bipartisan calls for his impeachment after he refused to defend the law in court, made the same argument in favor of a stay. Herring voted in favor of the marriage protection amendment in 2006 as a state legislator.
The amendment passed a 2006 statewide referendum with the support of nearly 60 percent of Virginia voters. It was initially deemed unconstitutional in February by Obama-appointed Judge Arenda Wright Allen.
Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.
The three-judge panel of the Richmond-based appeals court upheld her ruling. 
Brown said he looks forward to the day the justices decide “one or more of the three marriage cases now pending before them,” which he believes will result in their “ultimately ruling that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is entirely constitutional.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014



Brutal politics in a not-so-gay place

Wesley Pruden

Wesley Pruden,

Published August 19, 2014
It's finally happened!
Somebody has finally indicted the famous ham sandwich that an infamous judge once said any prosecutor so inclined could indict. No offense here to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, but this particular ham sandwich has no taste, no calories and no protein. It's all fat.
Mr. Perry was indicted last week of doing his constitutional duty in Austin, the capital and a lively and spirited island of deep blue Democrats of the most partisan persuasion, marooned in a sea of red-state Republicans. The isolation often inspires something bizarre.
The indictment by a Travis County grand jury, covering a scant two pages to detail the first indictment of a sitting Texas governor in more than a century, charges Mr. Perry with abusing his office by "threatening to veto legislation that had been approved and authorized by the Legislature" to fund a public-integrity section in the district attorney's office, unless the district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, resigned.
The governor wanted the D.A. gone because she had become the town drunk, and not only a drunk, but a drunk who gets in her car and tears down the street, weaving into opposing traffic, and fighting with the cops when they arrest her. And not just once. The governor thought she was not quite the district attorney to pass on the integrity of others, particularly other public officials.
So 16 months later, as the governor was preparing for another run for the Republican presidential nomination, the D.A. convened her grand jury and demanded the indictment. The grand jury complied, as grand juries nearly always do when the D.A. cries "jump."
Other governors, correctly perceiving the indictment as an attempt to criminalize political disagreements with constitutional authority, leaped to Mr. Perry's defense. Two of them are governors who would try to keep a presidential nomination away from him. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, called the indictment "politically motivated" and "a major overreach of his veto authority." Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said it was "a blatant misuse of the judicial system by liberal activists who couldn't defeat him at the polls."
Alan Dershowitz, the distinguished constitutional- and criminal-law professor at Harvard, says he is "a liberal Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry," but is nevertheless outraged. "This is another example of the criminalization of party differences," he says, and the indictment "is an extremely dangerous trend in America." The Wall Street Journal calls it "Texas chainsaw prosecution."
Rosemary Lehmberg clearly needs help from her friends. One of them should give her a ride to Alcoholics Anonymous. Her well-known mean streak invites the equally mean reactions of those who bear no gallantry. One Texan calls her "fat, drunk and vindictive."
But those who know Texas and Travis County are not surprised by the partisan vindictiveness. Austin, the seat of both the state government and the University of Texas, is unique. The people who live there fancy themselves cultured, wise and refined, but the politics are brutal and unforgiving, all the more partisan for its political isolation from the rest of Texas.
A fine political novel, "The Gay Place," drew Austin accurately 50 years ago, before the word "gay," once a synonym for "merry" and "festive," was appropriated by homosexuals. Billy Lee Brammer's take on a city that was then pleasant as well as merry and sometimes festive, was that it was "clean and quiet, with wide rambling walks and elaborate public gardens and elegant old homes standing ruined in the shadow of arching poplars."
The resemblance to a town out of F. Scott Fitzgerald was not a coincidence. Billy Lee Brammer lifted the title of his book from a Fitzgerald poem: "I know a gay place/Nobody knows."
Now Austin has become a big city that everybody knows, still dominated by the university and the Capitol, having traded its innocence for the harsh and pious politically correct. The district attorney's office reflects an attitude, that deep-blue Austin is better than bright-red Texas, and the rubes and yokels must be brought to heel.
Rosemary Lehmberg is popular in Austin because she needles Republicans, and occasionally indicts one, like Tom DeLay and now Rick Perry. She's usually not lawyer enough to convict a big one. She's a party girl, buying her vodka by the gallon. She prefers Ciroc, suitably French and a favorite of hip-hop artists, popular for "getting your thug life on."
Mr. Perry, never a favorite of the Austin party crowd, repeated his assessment of Ms. Lehmberg over the weekend as someone who can't be trusted to police anyone's ethics. He stands by his veto. "Given that choice again, that is exactly what I would do."



Comment & Blogs

Why the thought of organ donation makes me nervous

There is much about brain function that is not yet understood and it appears that the medical definition of ‘brain death’ is not infallible
'The more divided the medical establishment seems to be on "brain death",  the more I hesitate to sign an organ donation card' (PA)
'The more divided the medical establishment seems to be on "brain death", the more I hesitate to sign an organ donation card' (PA)
My blog for July 25 discussed the case of a baby born with anencephaly, a terminal condition, whose parents, devout Christians, had made the decision to donate his organs to help other sick babies. As it turned out, he was born prematurely and his organs were too immature for the purpose of donation, so after a brief period on a respirator, he was allowed to die naturally when his heart stopped beating. During the radio debate on the case I learnt that the criteria for what is called “brain death” is not used on babies as they are simply too tiny for it to be feasible. But it is used routinely in the case of adults whose organs are to be donated.
It brought me back to the whole question of organ donation after death – which is approved by the Church: note 2301 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the free gift of organs after death is legitimate and can be meritorious.” I agree with this in theory – but in practice I have never signed one of those cards that you are meant to carry around with you, giving permission for your organs to be harvested when you die. I feel too nervous about the whole subject – probably quite irrationally – having read of those rare yet widely publicised cases of people being thought to be dead by doctors, but who then make a seemingly miraculous recovery. All this (plus a dose of “premature burial” stories in Edgar Allan Poe, which I read in my youth) is enough to make me cravenly hesitate.
A recent article from the Life Issues Institute has resurrected my own fears. It discusses the case of a 21-year-old, Sam Schmid, who was severely injured in a car crash in Arizona. “Thought to be brain dead, hospital personnel began palliative care and discussed organ donation with his parents. They contemplated taking Sam off life support. But much to the surprise of everyone, he began to respond. In an act that defied explanation, Sam held up two fingers. That simple action quite possible saved his life…”
The article points out that the traditional definition of death occurred when you stopped breathing. In 1968 a paper was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that first introduced the notion of “brain death” as a determination of death. This coincided with new technology making the transplant of vital organs feasible for the first time. In 1981 in America, “brain death” was defined as the “irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.”
The article argues that the current criteria for brain death are not “infallible”, begging the question: is “brain death” truly death – especially when the functions of breathing and circulation have to be maintained to prevent vital organs from deteriorating? There is much about brain function that is not yet understood – as those medically inexplicable cases of patient recovery make clear. And at the same time the demand for viable organs also means that there is, as the article points out, a “vested interest” in a “brain dead” diagnosis. A longer article in Catholic World Report for April 27 2011, by JJ Ziegler, entitled “The principle of caution must remain”, raises all these same issues in greater depth. The more I read, the more divided the medical establishment seems to be on this subject – and the more I hesitate to sign an organ donation card.



April 27, 2011
Pope Benedict XVI enters the debate over brain death and transplantation.
In 1957, Pope Pius XII addressed an audience of anesthesiologists and answered three questions put to him by the University of Innsbruck’s Dr. Bruno Haid. The Pontiff’s answer to Dr. Haid’s third question set the stage for a dispute over whether “brain death” is a legitimate criterion for determining death or is instead an inaccurate norm that allows surgeons to kill thousands of near-dead patients for the sake of the transplantation of vital organs. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 21,561 of the 28,291 organ transplantations that took place in the US in 2006 were from donors declared deceased. “When the blood circulation and the life of a patient who is deeply unconscious because of a central paralysis are maintained only through artifi cial respiration, and no improvement is noted after a few days,” Dr. Haid asked, “at what time does the Catholic Church consider the patient ‘dead,’ or when must he be declared dead according to natural law (questions de facto and de jure)?”
Pope Pius answered that the determination of the moment of the death falls outside the competence of the Magisterium. “Where the verifi cation of the fact in particular cases is concerned, the answer cannot be deduced from any religious and moral principle and, under this aspect, does not fall within the competence of the Church. Until an answer can be given, the question must remain open. Considerations of a general nature allow us to believe that human life continues for as long as its vital functions—distinguished from the simple life of organs—manifest themselves spontaneously or even with the help of artificial processes.”
The Pontiff also said, “It remains for the doctor, and especially the anesthesiologist, to give a clear and precise defi nition of ‘death’ and the ‘moment of death’ of a patient who passes away in a state of unconsciousness. Here one can accept the usual concept of complete and final separation of the soul from the body; but in practice one must take into account the lack of precision of the terms ‘body’ and ‘separation.’”
Dealing with the implications of Pope Pius’s answer 51 years later, Pope Benedict XVI discussed issues surrounding brain death in a November 7 address to participants in a conference on organ donation. Like Pope Pius and Pope John Paul II before him, Pope Benedict praised organ donation as a meritorious act if free and informed consent is given and “only if [the donor] is not placing his own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason.” Like Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict cautioned that individuals from whom organs are extracted must truly be dead, and like his predecessor, he manifested an openness to “further progress” made by science “in certifying the death of the patient.” In Pope Benedict’s statement that caution must prevail in determining death “where certainty has not been attained,” neurologists, cardiologists, and others who have questioned for years the validity of the brain-death diagnosis found some vindication of their concerns.
In December 1967, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a South African surgeon who later wrote Good Life, Good Death: A Doctor’s Case for Euthanasia and Suicide, performed the first successful heart transplant: the donor had been declared dead, but her heart was kept beating through artificial means, since vital organs such as the heart rapidly become unsuitable for transplant after cessation of cardio-respiratory activity.
The following August, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association published a Harvard Medical School ad hoc committee report that led to a radical shift in the medical community’s understanding of the moment of death. Calling for “a new criterion for death,” in part because “obsolete criteria for the definition of death can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation,” the report’s authors considered Pope Pius’ 1957 remarks and argued that the traditional concept of death as the cessation of cardiorespiratory activity should give way to a concept of death as a “permanently nonfunctioning brain.”
Acceptance of this new criterion for determining death, which became the dominant view within the medical community, was not unanimous. In 1979, Dr. Paul Byrne, later president of the Catholic Medical Association, coauthored an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association in which he made the case that “cessation of total brain function, whether irreversible or not, is not necessarily linked to total destruction of the brain or to the death of the person.” Within the pro-life movement, activists who were united in principle in their opposition to abortion and active euthanasia disagreed over issues surrounding brain death.
In November 1976, a working group of fifteen theologians, doctors, and priests and religious who care for the sick gathered for three days under the auspices of the Pontifi cal Council Cor Unum for Human and Christian Development. Five years later, the council published the results of their deliberations. Citing Pope Pius’ statement, the council noted that “it is for medical science and not for the Church to establish” criteria for determining death and observed that “a growing consensus of opinion…considers a human being dead in whom a total and irreversible absence of life activity in the brain has been established.”
The council revealed that because “families are showing increased reticence in the matter of giving permission for the removal of organs for transplant…certain highly authoritative medical groups have requested the Church to make an offi cial declaration on the validity or non-validity of taking cerebral death, duly established, as the ‘moment of death’ of the human being. The Working Group feels that it is for a higher authority than itself to make such a declaration officially, but has agreed to call attention, by means of this report, to the need for making it.”
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences entered the debate in 1985 and again in 1989. Founded in 1603, the academy is not an organ of the Magisterium—its 80 members need not be Catholic—but rather seeks to promote the advancement of scientific knowledge and serve as “an invaluable source of objective information upon which the Holy See and its various bodies can draw.” In both instances, working groups of the academy reached the same conclusions: “cerebral death is the true criterion of death” (1985), and death occurs when “there has been an irreversible cessation of all brain functions, even if cardiac and respiratory functions which would have ceased have been maintained artifi cially” (1989).
Addressing the participants in the 1989 discussion, Pope John Paul II said:
On the one hand there is the urgent need to fi nd replacement organs for sick people who would otherwise die or at least would not recover. In other words, it is conceivable that in order to escape certain and imminent death a patient may need to receive an organ which could be provided by another patient, who may be lying next to him in hospital, but about whose death there still remains some doubt…. There is a real possibility that the life whose continuation is made unsustainable by the removal of a vital organ may be that of a living person, whereas the respect due to human life absolutely prohibits the direct and positive sacrifi ce of that life, even though it may be for the benefi t of another human being who might be felt to be entitled to preference.
The Pontiff called for continued scientific study and ethical reflection.
The 1990s witnessed a relative calm in the Church’s deliberations on brain death, though:
• the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) taught that “organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks incurred by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Donation of organs after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a manifestation of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or those who legitimately speak for him have not given their explicit consent. It is furthermore morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons”;
• the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers (1995) affi rmed the Pontifi cal Academy of Science’s conclusions but called for “the most accurate use of the various clinical and instrumental methods for a certain diagnosis of death so that patients are not declared dead and treated as such when in fact they are not dead”;
• Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae praised organ donation but cautioned, “Nor can we remain silent in the face of other more furtive, but no less serious and real, forms of euthanasia. These could occur for example when, in order to increase the availability of organs for transplants, organs are removed without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.”
In a 2000 address, Pope John Paul offered tentative and qualifi ed support for the concept of brain death:
Acknowledgement of the unique dignity of the human person has a further underlying consequence: vital organs which occur singly in the body can be removed only after death, that is, from the body of someone who is certainly dead. This requirement is self-evident, since to act otherwise would mean intentionally to cause the death of the donor in disposing of his organs. This gives rise to one of the most debated issues in contemporary bioethics, as well as to serious concerns in the minds of ordinary people. I refer to the problem of ascertaining the fact of death. When can a person be considered dead with complete certainty?…
It is a well-known fact that for some time certain scientific approaches to ascertaining death have shifted the emphasis from the traditional cardio-respiratory signs to the so-called “neurological” criterion. Specifically, this consists in establishing, according to clearly determined parameters commonly held by the international scientific community, the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity (in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem). This is then considered the sign that the individual organism has lost its integrative capacity.
With regard to the parameters used today for ascertaining death— whether the “encephalic” signs or the more traditional cardio-respiratory signs—the Church does not make technical decisions. She limits herself to the Gospel duty of comparing the data offered by medical science with the Christian understanding of the unity of the person, bringing out the similarities and the possible conflicts capable of endangering respect for human dignity.
Here it can be said that the criterion adopted in more recent times for ascertaining the fact of death, namely the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology. Therefore a health-worker professionally responsible for ascertaining death can use these criteria in each individual case as the basis for arriving at that degree of assurance in ethical judgment which moral teaching describes as “moral certainty.” This moral certainty is considered the necessary and sufficient basis for an ethically correct course of action. Only where such certainty exists, and where informed consent has already been given by the donor or the donor’s legitimate representatives, is it morally right to initiate the technical procedures required for the removal of organs for transplant.
In a CWR article the following year, Dr. Byrne and five coauthors, including two American bishops (Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and Bishop Robert Vasa) and the president of the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein (Dr. Josef Seifert), questioned the validity of the brain death diagnosis and described the Pope’s address “as a strong condemnation of the inhumane procedures and violations of natural moral law that presently occur with the transplantation of certain organs.” Their article inspired letters from nurses, doctors, and ethicists who supported their analysis.
Pope John Paul did not consider the validity of the criterion of brain death to be a closed question. In February 2005—a month before his death—the Pontifical Academy of Sciences again considered the issue, and the Pontiff said in a message to participants, “On the one hand, the Church has encouraged the free donation of organs, and on the other hand she has underlined the ethical conditions for such donation, emphasizing the obligation to defend the life and dignity of both donor and recipient; she has also indicated the duties of the specialists who carry out this procedure of organ transplant.”
The academy’s reexamination of the question, said the Pontiff, was “of fundamental importance, for which the well-considered and rigorous position of science must therefore be listened to in the first instance, as Pius XII taught when he declared that ‘it is for the doctor to give a clear and precise definition of ‘death’ and of the ‘moment of death.’” The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope John Paul pledged, would “ponder the results of your refl ection” and then “offer the necessary clarifi cations for the good of the community.”
As reported in CWR in 2005, the academy’s study group concluded that “there is overwhelming medical and scientific evidence that the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity (in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem) is not proof of death…. A diagnosis of death by neurological criteria alone is theory, not scientifi c fact. It is not suffi cient to overcome the presumption of life.”
Respected Italian journalist Sandro Magister reported, “This conference was a shock to the Vatican offi cials who subscribe to the Harvard report,” and one “prevented the proceedings from being published.” Nine of the participants, joined by likeminded doctors and scholars, then had their papers published in the volume Finis Vitae: Is Brain Death Still Life?, which is available from the American Life League.
In June 2005, the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI promulgated the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches, “Are the transplant and donation of organs allowed before and after death? The transplant of organs is morally acceptable with the consent of the donor and without excessive risks to him or her. Before allowing the noble act of organ donation after death, one must verify that the donor is truly dead.”
The following year, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences met again to consider the question of brain death. Pope Benedict did not offer his views on the subject during his brief written greeting to the participants. According to the academy’s concluding statement:
Just as it was difficult for common sense to accept, at the time of Copernicus and Galileo, that the earth was not stationary, so it is sometimes difficult now for people to accept that a body with a pumping heart and a pulse is “dead” and thus a corpse; “heart-beating death” appears to defy our common sense perceptions…. Most of the arguments against brain death are not sustainable and are incorrect diversions when scrutinized from a neurological perspective…the relatives of brain-dead individuals should be told that their relative has died rather than that he is “brain-dead,” with the accompanying explanation that the support systems produce only an appearance of life. Equally, the terms “life-support” and “treatment” should not be employed because in reality support systems are being provided to a corpse.
Among the signatories (most of whom were neurologists) were Bishop Elio Sgreccia, then president for the Pontifical Academy for Life—a prelate who, in the words of LifeSiteNews, has “unhesitatingly attacked euthanasia, abortion, contraception, embryonic research, and many other manifestations of the culture of death”—and the late Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, likewise “one of the world’s greatest defenders of the sanctity of human life” and then president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
On September 2, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reopened the internal Church debate by publishing an article questioning the criterion of brain death. Historian Lucetta Scaraffia observed that Vatican City State does not make use of the brain death diagnosis and noted that pregnant women who have been declared brain dead are able to give birth. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the same day that while the article was “interesting and weighty,” it was “not an act of the Church’s Magisterium,” and its views are “not binding for the Holy See.”
In November, the Pontifical Academy for Life, the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, and the Italian National Transplant Center cosponsored “A Gift for Life,” a conference on organ donation. Alexandra K. Glazier, vice president and general counsel of the New England Organ Bank and a speaker at the conference, told CWR, “I am not aware that there were any arguments presented at the conference in Rome questioning the validity of brain death as a criterion for determining death.”
At an audience with conference participants on November 7, Pope Benedict praised the meritorious nature of the act of organ donation. He then condemned abuses in the organ transplant industry and referred to the debate on brain death:
Someone can give only if he is not placing his own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason…. Transplant abuses and their trafficking, which often involve innocent people like babies, must find the scientific and medical community ready to unite in rejecting such unacceptable practices. Therefore they are to be decisively condemned as abominable…. It is helpful to remember, however, that the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail. This is why it is useful to promote research and interdisciplinary reflection to place public opinion before the most transparent truth on the anthropological, social, ethical, and juridical implications of the practice of transplantation. However, in these cases the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donor must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his true death.
Those attending the conference, as well as opponents of the validity of the brain death criterion, welcomed the Pope’s remarks. “Pope Benedict’s strong support for organ donation continues in the tradition of John Paul II, who specifi cally mentioned the use of neurological criteria in the determination of death,” says Glazier. “We support Pope Benedict’s view that organ donation is an important life-saving intervention and that in these years there has been progress in certifying the death of the patient.”
Dr. José María Simón, president of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, told CWR, “The Pope in fact did not change the medical praxis that many good Catholic doctors are performing. Donations have to be done ex cadavere: those who certify the death are the doctors. I have full respect for those who do not believe in brain death! Nevertheless, they should also respect a criterion that is not against reason and certainly is not against the Magisterium.”
On the other hand, British cardiologist Dr. David Evans said, “I am much encouraged by the Pope’s utterances…. If there is any scientific objectivity and intellectual integrity left amongst those in thrall to the transplant industry, his strictures against the removal of vital organs when there is any remaining
doubt about their owner being dead must surely be heeded. If by ex cadavere he is understood to mean ‘from a cadaver’—and a cadaver is understood to mean a truly dead body—then it will have to be accepted that the era of human organ procurement for transplant purposes is over for conforming Roman Catholics.”
Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, agrees. She told CWR that “the problem with debates in Catholic circles regarding the question of brain death as actual death has little to do with the clear, undeniably succinct statements of the Holy Father and his predecessor. Rather, the nuancing that continues in some Catholic circles has to do with a hesitation to come out and say without apology that any act of removing a vital organ that results in the death of a living patient is wrong and must not occur.” Referring to the Pontiff’s use of the words ex cadavere, Brown added, “Quite simply, dead is dead, not nearly dead or presumed dead or probably dead. Until the controversy surrounding alleged brain death ends, the criteria should be as the Holy Father has set forth without nuance. The reason there is debate is because there is a question; if there is a question, the patient should not be the victim of one side of the debate.”
Dr. Michael Potts, professor of philosophy at Methodist University in North Carolina and a non-Catholic participant in the 2005 pontifical academy meeting, added, “I am pleased to hear that the Pope is reconsidering brain death criteria. I am hopeful that his statement means that the Roman Catholic Church is now open to hearing the case from opponents of brain death criteria.”
Dr. D. Alan Shewmon, professor of neurology and pediatrics at UCLA and chief neurologist at Olive View UCLA Medical Center, praised the Pontiff’s references to “the entire scientific community” and “certainty”:
It can hardly be claimed that there is a “consensus of the entire scientific community” and “certainty” regarding the diagnosis of brain death, when some countries define it in terms of the whole brain while others in terms of only the brain stem…there are ongoing debates about what constitutes a relevant or “clinically relevant” “brain function” for purposes of the diagnosis…there has been much questioning over the years regarding the actual confirmatory value of certain purportedly “confirmatory” tests…[and] there is a persistent current of publications in the medical and philosophical literatures questioning whether any sort of purely neurological “death” is true death, as ordinarily understood and as the Church defines it. Until a true professional consensus is reached on such important aspects, “the principle of caution should prevail.”
Dr. Cicero Galli Coimbra, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at the Federal University of São Paulo (Brazil), welcomed the Pontiff’s reference to “the most transparent truth” about transplantation. Such transparency, said Dr. Coimbra, would allow for a wider discussion of concerns that the apnea test, which is used to diagnose brain death, is not therapeutic and can hasten the patient’s death.
Dr. Byrne told CWR that “following this instruction, many would say and write that after true death, that is ex cadavere, the heart is not suitable for transplantation…. When someone is declared ‘brain dead’ by more than 30 disparate ‘brain death’ criteria, of which a person can be declared ‘brain dead’ by one set yet be alive by others, the heart is beating, the blood pressure is normal and when the ‘donor’ is cut into to get the organs, the ‘donor’ will move and squirm and there will be increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The ‘donor’ must be given a paralyzing drug and anesthetic to prevent this. Would this fulfill the Pope’s instruction of ‘certainty?’” Dr. Byrne also pointed to recent cases in which persons declared brain dead recovered and are now alive.

Sunday, August 17, 2014



In 2013, Lesbian Rosemary Lehmberg, [Democrat official] District Attorney in Austin, TX’s Travis County, was arrested for drunk driving 3x the legal limit, for abusing officers, trashing her jail cell, abusive language, striking an officer, etc.  She had to be restrained with bindings and strapped to a chair in her cell.  Still, she yelled filthy slurs against the police and jailers, then spent 45 days in jail.    She is openly ‘gay' and a known alcoholic. People in Austin, Tx. [hard-core liberals] love this type of woman.
Now, tell me again why Gov. Rick Perry is being indicted for vetoing funds to her office when this despicable D.A. refused to resign under the shame of her actions, her arrest record, her uncontrolled alcoholism and her abuse behavior to the good Servants [policemen] of the People.  Oh, yeah, it’s because he will likely be a 2016 candidate for U.S. President.  Destroy his good reputation.  

Next week he will be taken down to police station, booked and arraigned like a criminal, but best of all for the Democrats a mug shot taken that will be broadcast millions of times over and over.  You and I realize how dumb U.S. voters are.   Few will know the true details behind the Perry indictment, including the infamous Perry police mug shot.   Democrat Party voters in 2016 will again, as usual, consist of illegal, non-English speaking immigrants, including dead people whose I.D. have been stolen.  

Isn’t Switzerland sounding better and better each day?     barb

Saturday, August 16, 2014



Mexico: rumors abound of murder for human organs

Children and adults in Mexico are being murdered and their organs extracted.

In Mexico, approximately 45,000 children and young people have been abducted. According to the Fides news service, many are subjected to sexual exploitation. Rumors circulate widely that children and adults are being subjected to the harvesting of their organs.
Criminal gangs are mainly active in Mexico City and the surrounding State of Mexico, as well as Veracruz, Tijuana, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and in areas bordering the United States, Guatemala, and Belize. The report contends that young people, especially from Central America, are lured by criminal networks, abducted, and then subjected to surgery by corrupt physicians in the United States to remove organs such as kidneys and livers. The report cited unnamed French and U.S. authorities.
Allegedly, victims range in age from 7 to 10 years. Younger children are often kidnapped for adoption. In order to face this serious problem, the Mexican Foundation for the Research on Missing and Abducted children have created a free campaign on the phenomenon of child abduction in the schools in Mexico City, and the states of Mexico, Veracruz and Puebla. 
According to UNICEF, 1.2 million children go missing worldwide each year. 
According to a report from Mexico, Dr. Fernando Lopez Neblina - a surgeon at a hospital in the border town of Mexicali - said that Mexico's attorney general has never uncovered a single case of forced organ harvesting. He noted that the procedure of organ transplantation is very difficult and requires a specialized team of physicians. 
However, there have been cases where it has been determined that organs, especially hearts and livers, have been extracted from children for the purposes of esoteric religious rituals linked to the cult of the so-called 'Santa Muerte' (Ed. note: Saint Death or Holy Death). "There have been indeed cases of kidnapping of children and adults where their organs have been extracted, but never for a transplant. These organs are removed just anywhere as if they were animals and are used for witchcraft. The Attorney General's office has discovered the mutilated corpses of children in common graves, and I have seen corpses whose hearts, liver and other organs have been ripped out; these could never have been used for illegal trafficking," said Dr. López-Neblina.
Dr. Luis Carlos Rodríguez Sancho, a transplant surgeon in Guadalajara, contends that there have been sporadic cases of the murder of children for the purpose of extracting organs and for rituals of propitiation involving the spilling of human blood. 
(a devotee prays at shrine of Santa Muerte)
In April 2014, Security Commissioner Alfredo Castillo of Michoacan affirmed that member of the Caballeros Templarios (Templar Knights), a narcotics cartel in central Mexico, uses human hearts in its rituals. As a sign of loyalty, members of the cartel are compelled to eat human hearts in the presence of the Templar leadership. However, since that time, neither Castillo nor any other credible authority has repeated or verified the claim. Beheadings, summary killings, torture, rape and abduction, however, are all common practices among the various cartels in prosecuting their turf wars against each other, as well as against Mexico's military and law enforcement agencies. 

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014



Fremont sex ed conflict could spread statewide
Back from school: 10 sexual indoctrination laws motivating loving parents to permanently exit government schools for the sanctuary of home schools and church schools

Sacramento, California -- In light of disturbing "sex education" curriculum recently pushed in Fremont, California, a leading family issues organization is urging parents to permanently exit the government schools because of system-wide sexual indoctrination, failure to teach reading, and negative peer pressure.

Last week in Fremont, after hundreds of parents publicly objected, curriculum that graphically depicted sexual activities and sexual fetishes was temporarily shelved by the public school district there.

"What happened in Fremont won't stay in Fremont," said Randy Thomasson, president of, which defends children's innocence and promotes moral virtues for the common good. "This perverse curriculum is by a major publisher, McGraw-Hill, and there's nothing in state law prohibiting it in any classroom, school, or school district. Fathers and mothers need to realize this fact and take decisive action."

"The alarm is sounding for loving parents to get their precious children out of the government schools while there's still time," Thomasson said. "Parents who care about their children's hearts, minds, bodies, and souls are abandoning the public schools for the sanctuary of home schools and church schools. Our site,, is helping to inform parents and grandparents that 'back from school' is much better for kids than 'back to school.'" lists three bad things guaranteed to children in California public schools: sexual indoctrination, poor reading skills, and negative peer pressure.
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In addition, Thomasson noted, "There are also 10 sexual indoctrination laws requiring all children in California K-12 government schools to be taught that homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, and teen heterosexual fornication are good and natural and maybe even for them." These California state laws are:

AB 1266 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013, requires all K-12 public schools to permit biological boys in girls' restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams; and biological girls in boys' restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams. The "right" to violate these sexual boundaries is solely a self declaration of a different "gender identity."

SB 48 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, mandates that children from kindergarten through 12th grade, in all "instruction in social sciences," admire "the role and contributions of...lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans."

SB 543 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, allows school staff to remove children -- aged 12 and up -- from government schools and taken off-campus for counseling sessions, without parental permission or involvement. The purpose is to permit pro-homosexuality teachers and administrators to remove sexually-confused children in 6th grade and up from campus and take them to pro-homosexuality counselors who will encourage them to embrace the homosexual lifestyle. Parents will never hear about it.

ACR 82 (school or district option), approved by the California Legislature in 2010, creates de facto "morality-free zones" at participating schools (pre-kindergarten through public universities). Schools that become official "Discrimination-Free Zones" will "enact procedures" (including mandatory counseling) against students from pre-kindergarten on up who are accused of "hate," "intolerance," or "discrimination." How? By peacefully speaking or writing against the unnatural lifestyles of "sexual orientation" (homosexuality and bisexuality) and "gender identity" (transsexuality and cross-dressing), which are included in this measure. This means students, teachers, and parents who visit campus, who speak up for man-woman marriage, biological gender differences, and Biblical values, could be penalized.

SB 572 (teacher or school or district option), signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, establishes "Harvey Milk Day" in K-12 California public schools and community colleges. In classrooms, schools, and school districts that participate, children will now be taught to admire the life and values of late homosexual activist and teen predator Harvey Milk of San Francisco the month of May. According to the reputable biography, "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk" by Randy Shilts, Milk repeatedly engaged in adult-child sex, advocated for simultaneous homosexual relationships, and told a very public lie because he thought it would get him ahead. Since SB 572 requires participating schools to make children perform "exercises remembering the life of Harvey Milk," kids could be taught to support and emulate these bad values.

SB 777 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, prohibits all public school instruction and every school activity from "promoting a discriminatory bias" against (effectively requiring positive depictions of) transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality to schoolchildren as young as five years old. SB 777 means children will be taught their "gender" is a matter of choice. When fully implemented, SB 777 will affect everything on campus -- classroom instruction, instructional materials, textbooks, guest speakers, handouts, videos, sex education, drama, music, school assemblies, sports teams, homecoming games, school proms, school clubs, etc. There is no "opt out" for parents. Thus, curriculum and school activities must be positive about homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality, because to be silent could be deemed to be "promoting a discriminatory bias."

AB 394 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, effectively promotes transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual indoctrination of students, parents, and teachers via "anti-harassment" and "anti-discrimination" materials, to be publicized in classrooms and assemblies, posted on walls, incorporated into curricula on school websites, and distributed in handouts to take home.

SB 71 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and implemented in 2008 through the new "sexual health" standards approved by appointees of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, teaches children as young as 5th grade that any consensual sexual behavior is "safe" as long as you "protect" yourself with a condom, and teaches children that homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality is "normal."

AB 1785 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2000, required the California State Board of Education to alter the state curriculum frameworks to include and require "human relations education" for children in K-12 public schools, with the aim of "fostering an appreciation of the diversity of California's population and discouraging the development of discriminatory attitudes and practices," according to the state legislative counsel's digest. Unfortunately, the bill defined "culture" and "cultural diversity" to include an unnatural meaning of "sex" or " gender" (redefined under Government Code, Section 12926(p) and (q), along with Penal Code, Section 422.56(c), producing an overly broad meaning that "includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.") and "sexual orientation" (which Penal Code, Section 422 also defines to include all virtually all aspects of homosexuality and bisexuality).

AB 537 (mandatory), signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 1999, permits teachers and students to openly proclaim and display their homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality, even permitting cross-dressing teachers, school employees and student on campus, in classrooms, and in rest rooms. It's all being done under the banner of "non-discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" (in all its forms) and "gender" (however subjectively defined).

How parents can escape these objectionable laws

Facts about homosexuality and help for those struggling



AMERICA/MEXICO - Organ trafficking and sexual exploitation: about 45,000 children and young people missing and abducted

Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) - In Mexico, approximately 45,000 children and young people have been abducted and are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking in organs. This is the complaint made by the Foundation for the Research of Missing and Abducted children. Criminal gangs are mainly active in the Federal District and in the States of Mexico, Veracruz, Tijuana, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and in the border areas in the north and south of the Country. Often young people are lured by criminal networks with enticing offers. According to American and French authorities that observe the phenomenon in Mexico, the victims are operated in American hospitals, where their organs are removed by corrupt doctors. The age group of these children who are kidnapped range between 7 to 10. Younger children are often kidnapped for adoption. In order to face this serious problem, the Foundation for the Research of Missing and Abducted children have created a free campaign on the phenomenon of child abduction in the schools of the Federal District and in the States of Mexico, Veracruz and Puebla.
According to UNICEF, 1.2 million children go missing Worldwide each year. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 12/08/2014)

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Embryologist Adding Sperm To Egg


      In the aftermath of the unsuccessful Personhood Amendment initiative in Mississippi, pro-life groups have much reason to reflect on their overall philosophy when it comes to when life begins and how much protection life should receive, matters that, as it turns out, are far from settled.  Rather than debate whether this Amendment failed because of the MSM or Planned Parenthood or whoever or whatever; rather than debate whether it would have been upheld by the Courts if it passed and was (inevitably) challenged; let us take a moment and look at the pro-life movement more fundamentally.  There must be a consistently intellectually honest view of life that underlies all pro-life efforts.  But it is clear today that there is not.  We must recognize and rectify it or the movement is lost because it will have no moral authority. 

      Keith Mason of Personhood USA, which backed the Personhood Amendment, said today: “A personhood amendment, recognizing everyone as a legal person, is the right thing to do.  It is always right to protect our citizens.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’”

     He is absolutely correct.  However, there is a contradiction when he says:  “Our opposition’s most successful tactics were steeped in falsehoods.  Despite testimony from countless experts including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, numerous high-profile attorneys, and board certified physicians and OBGYNs, Amendment 26 opponents falsely claimed that the measure would ban in vitro fertilization (it couldn’t), ban contraception (it wouldn’t), and give protections to ‘eggs’ (it didn’t).” And then also says:  “In truth, Amendment 26 protected human embryos from the moment of conception.”
      The Personhood Amendment debate in Mississippi and the comments of its primary supporter, show a shocking, but all too common, truth about the "pro-life" community as a whole.  Even the proponents of the Amendment go out of their way to say that this would not ban IVF and contraception.

       As a matter of philosophical consistency and logic, "Why not?"  If they are seeking to protect all embryos from the moment of conception and define them as persons, how do you then exclude these two forms of life-beginning-at-conception from the protection they say they want?  Are they not persons, too?  How can you “protect human embryos from the moment of conception” andnot ban IVF and at least those forms of contraception that can be abortifacients? 

       It is important to realize how the Supreme Court got to its decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973).  Together Roe and Doe legalized abortion across all fifty states based principally on an alleged “right of privacy” in the U.S. Constitution because the Court had already decided Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), which is the all-too-often-forgotten case wherein the Court actually found that “right of privacy” in the context of deciding that a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives was unconstitutional.  

There has been, from the very beginning, an inextricable link between contraception and abortion. 

       Up until about 1930, all Christian Churches condemned both contraception and abortion and were united in support of life from the moment of conception.  The only Christian Churches to remain firmly against both contraception and abortion are the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.  When the others changed their doctrines, they started by relaxing their views concerning contraception. This clarity among and within churches regarding contraception is no longer present and it has without a doubt contributed significantly to the muddled pro-life philosophy for many well-intentioned individuals.  This link must be made clear again, especially since it is now evident that certain forms of contraception can lead to abortions.  (And, not just the “Morning After Pill,” but also certain forms of “the Pill,” IUDs, etc.)  If life begins at conception and the embryo is a person, then one cannot support abortifacient contraception. 

        And, what about the "selective reductions" after a successful IVF or the destruction of unused embryos?  The IVF-using couples who want a child so badly pay (handsomely) for the procedure which most of the time implants more than a one embryo at a time because so many perish in the process.  Most of the time, if the couple is blessed with more than one or two of these embryos surviving, there is often the process of "selectively reducing" the number of children alive and growing in their mother’s womb.  It is an abortion.  For just one IVF doctor’s view of this process, where he makes clear that selective reduction is acceptable and advisable.  

   There are some who might say that the Personhood Amendment was an attempt at “incrementalism.” In the pro-life movement, there is a split among those who support an “all or nothing” approach (ban it all or don’t bother and we won’t support it) and those who support a “let’s do what we can, a little at a time” approach, sometimes called an “incremental” approach.  There are merits to both arguments and the point here is not to advocate for or against either one; it is beside the point.  The point here is that there is nothing in the language above indicating this was an incremental approach.  It seems that all that was intended was protection and personhood status for some embryos, but not all. 

       As such, there is a fundamental, but unacknowledged, inconsistency by the proponents of the Amendment when they say the Amendment will “protect human embryos from the moment of conception” and “recogniz[e] everyone as a legal person” while simultaneously saying the Amendment will not ban IVF and certain forms of abortifacient contraception.  By its proponent’s own comments, it allows for the destruction of some of the very “persons” they claim to want to protect based on how they came to be in existence.  So, there is a massive education effort needed – apparently within the pro-life community and for the promoters of this Amendment as much as for anyone else – so that the pro-life movement is consistently intellectually honest and has the moral authority necessary to engage in this vital effort.  Let’s get started!


       I have not really written about IVF before, but the concerns with it - and the reasons it is morally wrong - should be even more apparent.  Perhaps I'll write another post about it in the future.  In the meantime, I hope this helps show in another way why we cannot support contraception that is even potentially abortifacient in the pro-life movement.
- Kassi Dee Marks