“Abstinence Only” States More Effective

When it comes to effectively reducing teen abortions, it’s apparent that there are those who “get it”, and those who don’t. In this particular case, it’s easy to let the numbers speak for themselves.

Annual census adjustments were calculated into abortion statistics for each year 2001 – 2005. Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

States rejecting abstinence only funds included: AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, MA, ME, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OH, RI, VA, WI and WY.

The following states not reporting abortion statistics to the CDC for each year 2001 – 2005 were excluded from the calculation: AK, CA, LA, FL & NH

For teen girls under the age of 15 years old, from 2001 – 2005, there was a 7.5% decrease in abortions among the states which have rejected funding for abstinence only education.

For teen girls under the age of 15 years old, from 2001 – 2005, there was a 23.1% decrease in abortions among the states which have accepted funding for abstinence only education.

The states which have accepted funding for abstinence only education showed a 208% greater reduction in abortions among girls 14 years old and younger, when compared to the states which have rejected funding for abstinence only education.

Overall, the abortion rate among girls younger than 15 years old in states which rejected abstinence only funding was 37.3% higher than in states which accepted funding.

Annual census adjustments were calculated into abortion statistics for each year 2001 – 2005. Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

States rejecting abstinence only funds included: AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, MA, ME, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OH, RI, VA, WI and WY.

The following states not reporting abortion statistics to the CDC for each year 2001 – 2005 were excluded from the calculation: AK, CA, LA, FL & NH

For teen girls under the age of 20 years old, from 2001 – 2005, there was a 5.2% decrease in abortions among the states which have rejected funding for abstinence only education.

For teen girls under the age of 20 years old, from 2001 – 2005, there was a 20.5% decrease in abortions among the states which have accepted funding for abstinence only education.

The states which have accepted funding for abstinence only education showed a 294.2% greater reduction in abortions among girls 19 years old and younger, when compared to the states which have rejected funding for abstinence only education.

Overall, the teen abortion rate among girls 19 years old and younger for states which rejected abstinence only funding was 48.2% higher than in states which had accepted funding.

The Pontifical Council for the Family provides some guidelines for sex education within the family.

Source: 104 Babcock

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Media’s Pro-Choice Darling Called Humans “Ecotumors”

Late-term abortionist is a victimized hero to left-wing media.

by Colleen Raezler, Culture and Media Institute

To liberal media outlets, Warren Hern, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country, has been worthy of praise as a doctor who boldly stands up for his beliefs in the face of intimidation – a lonely humanitarian braving violent death for the sake of his patients.

That’s the picture painted by TV and other media. What’s missing from the portrait is Hern’s belief that humans are “malignant ecotumors,” his refusal to be called an abortionist, and his strident denunciations of the pro-life movement.

Attention has turned to Hern in the wake of the May 31 murder of Kansas late-term abortionist (and Hern friend) George Tiller. Since then, Hern has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and NPR. Print media, including the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune have cited him.

Esquire magazine devoted 9,000 words to Hern in its current issue, which sparked his Aug. 12 appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and praise from Keith Olbermann.

‘Best Person in the World’?

Olbermann and Maddow highlighted Hern’s portrayal of pro-life advocates as dangerous vigilantes, a point made repeatedly in the Esquire profile, but MSNBC ignored another claim noted in the article. Hern thinks of mankind as “a malignant ecotumor.”

A statement like that, however, wouldn’t help Maddow and Olbermann’s portrayal of Hern as a victim of far-right ideologues.

Olbermann named Hern “Best Person in the World” on August 6 and used the abortionist to fan the flames of his on-going feud with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Olbermann said of Hern:

He says Tiller – Tiller’s death was the result of 35 years, of quote, hate speech against doctors who performed abortions, like the drum beat on Fox about Tiller the baby Killer.

[Hern] says more than that. Quoting him, “Bill O’Reilly is a disgrace to American society. He’s full of blank. This is not a debate. It’s a civil war. And the other people are using bullets and bombs. I think,” he went on, “O’Reilly is a fascist and would fit right in Nazi Germany, as far as I’m concerned.”

There it is. Bill O’Reilly will never understand that the people who agreed with him on Tiller the baby killer do not stop at argument or political action. They use bullets and bombs and he, O’Reilly, has voluntarily associated himself with and encouraged them.

Maddow noted Hern’s “considerable bravery” for appearing on television “given the threats” he faces and invited him to draw comparisons to the recent town hall outbursts about health care and the violence that ended Tiller’s life.   

Maddow also allowed Hern to state unchallenged, that the term “abortionist” is used by pro-life advocates to “stigmatize” doctors who perform abortions. That’s a claim Hern made in the Esquire profile as well, and it suits his self-portrayal and the media’s desire to show him as a victim.

But there are other details in the Esquire article that don’t quite fit the victim narrative.

Humans as a “Malignant Ecotumor”

Richardson’s Esquire article highlighted something MSNBC ignored: Hern has repeatedly and publicly advanced a twisted, hateful view of humanity.

“The human species is an example of a malignant ecotumor, an uncontrolled proliferation of a single species that threatens the existence of other species in their habitats,” he wrote in a paper published in Population and Environment in 1990. He concluded that, “The idea that the human population is a planetary cancer is a profoundly disturbing conclusion, but the observations of the scientific community over the last 20 years have provided massive support this hypothesis and little, if anything, to refute it.”

His opinion didn’t change over the course of 18 years. “From the point of view of a physician, the expanding, invasive, colonizing urban form with highly irregular borders resembles a malignant lesion,” wrote Hern in a 2008 paper published in the International Journal of Anthropology. “Malignant neoplasms have at least four major characteristic: rapid, uncontrolled growth; invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues (eco systems); metastasis (distant colonization); and de-differentiation.”

In the recent profile, Esquire writer John H. Richardson asked Hern if his belief that humans are a “malignant ecotumor” “invites the hate.” Hern claimed, “I’m not inviting people to do anything. I’d like them to think. What a concept …”

It’s Hern’s “humans as cancer” hypothesis that drives him to perform abortions. He told Richardson, I do think that helping people control their fertility is highly consistent with helping people be responsible citizens of the planet. If somebody misunderstands it or tries to distort it, I don’t give a s—.” 

And back in 1990, he told the Edmonton Journal, “Providing abortion services is not only consistent with my personal and professional ethics, but I see it as consistent with this larger view that one of the most urgent necessities is providing people with fertility control that’s safe, effective, and offered in a humane and dignified way.”

“Humane and dignified?” During the heated debate surrounding the 2003 partial-birth abortion ban, Hern discussed what he perceived as the gray area in the law in a Slate.com article. “The fetus cannot be delivered ‘alive’ in my procedure – as the ban stipulates in defining prohibited procedures – because I begin by giving the fetus an injection that stops its heart immediately,” he explained. Later in the article Hern described an abortion he performed on a woman in her 17th week:

Because of the two days of prior treatment, the amniotic membranes were visible and bulging. I ruptured the membranes and released the fluid to reduce the risk of amniotic fluid embolism. Then I inserted my forceps into the uterus and applied them to the head of the fetus, which was still alive, since fetal injection is not done at that stage of pregnancy. I closed the forceps, crushing the skull of the fetus, and withdrew the forceps. The fetus, now dead, slid out more or less intact.

None of this was mentioned when Hern appeared on television.

Not an “Abortionist”

While Hern has been unapologetic and not the lease reluctant to describe abortions in graphic detail, he still claimed to hate the term “abortionist.”

Hern explained to Richardson that the “abortionist” label is now “a degrading and demeaning word that has the same negative connotations as the most despicable racial epithet.”

Richardson, to his credit, called the word “a simple descriptive term like ‘podiatrist’” and “the right word, an accurate word,” and continued to use “abortionist” throughout the article. But he noted that “our discomfort with it is but a measure of how poisoned the language of abortion has become.”

Richardson’s insistent use of “abortionist” is rare for mainstream media outlets. Others use “abortion provider,” “doctor who performs abortions,” or simply “doctor” or “physician” as descriptors for abortionists. The terms, while accurate, obfuscate the intent of abortion – to end a human life.

The media further water down abortion in their descriptions of the procedure, as CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta did in his June 2 description of late-term abortion following Tiller’s murder.

“The type of abortion that does happen late is often something where the cervix is dilated, the fetus is removed, sometimes medicines or chemicals are injected into the womb as well. So that’s typically what you’re talking about when you’re talking about late-term abortion,” he stated on CNN’s Newsroom.

One wonders whether Gupta read Hern’s abortion description in Slate. And that description was for an abortion at 17 weeks. What would one at a later stage entail, and how would Gupta downplay its horror?

Pro-Life “Fascists,” “Terrorists”  

Just after George Tiller’s murder, Hern pleaded for a cooling off of the rhetoric in the abortion debate. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on June 1, “We need to use language that is respectful instead of the hateful hate language of the anti-abortion movement, which is often used by legitimate so-called journalists like William Saletan, Ellen Goodman, and Chris Matthews.”

But as MSNBC’s Olbermann approvingly noted, Hern doesn’t shrink from inflammatory speech. And, just as Hern’s view of “humans as malignant ecotumors” has been consistent, so has his characterization of pro-life advocates as fascists.

In a 2002 op-ed for The Colorado Statesman, Hern compared pro-life advocates to the Taliban and the violent Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood. He described a confrontation between him and members of the Brotherhood in 1994 and concluded, “The Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood has something in common with the American anti-abortion fanatics.  For both, I represent an idea that they hate: freedom. Worse, I represent, along with others, a movement that threatens male dominance and gives freedom to women.”

Hern continued, “If this hatred of freedom for women were confined to the Taliban of Afghanistan, it would be bad enough.  But one American political party has used hatred of freedom for women to gain power at all levels in our country.”

Seven years later, Hern claimed to Richardson, “It is my views that we are dealing with a fascist movement. It’s a terrorist, violent terrorist movement, and they have a fascist ideology.”

He continued, “The seem civilized but underneath you have this seething mass of angry, rabid anger and hatred of freedom that is really frightening, and they support people like the guy who shot George [Tiller] – they’re all pretending to be upset, issuing statements about how much they deplore violence, but it’s just bull—-. That is exactly what they wanted to happen.”

During his appearance on Maddow’s program, Maddow acknowledged “In the extreme-anti-abortion movement or in the anti-abortion movement even more broadly, of course, the large majority of protestors and even people who feel strongly about the issue are peaceful.”

But Hern would have none of it. “The anti-abortion movement and the rest of the radical political and religious right is fundamentally opposed to the basic premises of American society,” he said. “They don’t accept the rule of law. They don’t want debate. They don’t want discussion. They don’t want reason. They don’t want moderate discussion. They want totalitarian, theocratic society and they are willing to use violence to get it.”

But that “totalitarian, theocratic society” idea was conspicuously missing from the statements of major pro- life organizations after Tiller’s murder.

Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said “The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone.”

Family Research Council,  president Tony Perkins stated, “As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America,  reminded people of how most pro-life advocates protest, “Through the years, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers have prayed for George Tiller, peacefully tried to persuade him to end his killing of innocent children and exploitation of women, and actively worked to enforce the laws of Kansas. We were guided by the hope that he would change his ways and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.”

The National Right to Life Committee’s executive director, Dr. David N. O’Steen, affirmed the notion that all life is sacred, “The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.”

To say that these groups and their members are “fundamentally opposed to the basic premises of American society” ignores the defining statement of one of America’s founding documents: “that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Abortion Has Consequences

The Esquire profile included one brief glimpse of doubt about his work from Hern.

Richardson reported, “In passing, the abortionist says you can never get used to this…you can’t, he says. I think we’re hardwired, biologically, to protect small, vulnerable creatures, especially babies. The fetuses may not be babies, but some of them are pretty close.”

Richardson quoted Hern’s own words, written in 1980, “We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current. It is the crucible of a raging controversy, the confrontation of a modern existential dilemma. The more we seem to solve the problem, the more intractable it becomes.”

But Hern complained to Richardson that, “the anti-abortion people quote the s— out of it. It’s kind of antiabortion porn for them.” He also conceded that the pro-choice people “don’t like it when you talk about how it really feels to do this work.”

That last comment captured the mainstream media’s reluctance to talk about abortion beyond euphemisms like those from Gupta, or the usual pro-abortion talking points. If there was truly nothing wrong with abortion, why resort to name-calling instead of the debate the pro-abortion groups claim they want to have? Why not call abortion providers abortionists? And why not show the full measure of abortionists’ character?

It’s because no matter what, abortion is the taking of innocent life. That’s a truth the media can’t handle.

South Dakota Planned Parenthood May Lose License, Fails to Follow Abortion Law

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 12, 2009

Sioux Falls, SD (LifeNews.com) — Planned Parenthood operates the only abortion business in the state of South Dakota , but it is in danger of losing its medical license. That’s because state officials say the abortion center is not following a new law that requires it to inform women that the abortion will destroy the life of their unborn child.

Specifically, Planned Parenthood is required to tell women, which it would not otherwise, that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The state health department drafted a letter to the abortion business on August 7 saying that, during an inspection in May, it failed to properly inform women of the effects of an abortion.

The letter, according to an Argus Leader newspaper report, gives Planned Parenthood until August 22 to submit a plan to correct its failure to follow state law.

The abortion business says it doesn’t have to follow the law because it has filed a lawsuit asking a judge for an injunction to be able to leave women in the dark about what an abortion does.

The state legislature approved modifications to the informed consent law in 2005 with that instruction and information on the plethora of medical and psychological problems associated with abortion.

But Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion business in the state in Sioux Falls , claimed making them tell women the truth about abortion’s problems would infringe on the free speech rights of abortion practitioners and filed suit against the law.

Both sides have presented their arguments in court but Judge Karen Schreier has yet to issue a ruling in the case.

The letter, the newspaper says, follows a meeting between Planned Parenthood and state officials on July 30. When the meeting failed to result in the abortion business agreeing to follow state law, officials acted.

“We knew if we didn’t reach an interim agreement with them then this would occur,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola told the paper. “It’s procedural, to an extent.”

After getting the letter, Planned Parenthood, on Tuesday, asked Judge Schreier for a temporary restraining order, which would prevent the state from making good on restricting its medical license.

The state has accused Planned Parenthood of not telling women “all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors … including … depression and related psychological distress (and) increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”

Planned Parenthood also did not make women considering an abortion aware that they “have an existing relationship with that unborn human being,” which is protected by law and that the abortion will terminate that relationship and those rights.

After Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier granted the injunction it sought. She issued the ruling saying she believed Planned Parenthood would prevail in its case and agreed that first amendment rights would be improperly trumped.

The state appealed the ruling for the temporary injunction and a three judge panel of the appeals court agreed on a 2-1 ruling and continued the injunction.

But then the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the injunction last July and the state began enforcing the law.

Now, the case itself is back before Schreier, who will rule on whether the law is constitutional.

Assistant Attorney General John Guhin defended the law during the hearing before the appeals court.

“The Legislature became convinced women are not getting information about the unborn life within them,” he said at the time.

“The really sad part is that it might be a husband, boyfriend, even parents” who pressured a woman to have an abortion and the state legislature wanted women to know they have a right to keep the baby, he added.

Two pregnancy centers eventually joined the state as defendants in the case.

“When the pregnant mothers realize that abortion involves the termination of the life of a human being, they look at the procedure in a different light,” Leslee Unruh, Alpha Center president, said previously. “It is not taken lightly and for most of the women this fact is of critical importance and leads them to search for other alternatives.”

They also counsel women who have had abortions and say they were not well informed by the abortion centers beforehand.

Similar informed consent laws in other states have reduced the number of abortions and helped women in unplanned pregnancies find local agencies that will help them.

Newsweek Reporter Witnesses an Abortion

8-19-09

by Kim Trobee, editor

Pro-abortion reporter, Sarah Kliff, is surprised by her reaction to witnessing an abortion.

Sarah Kliff has covered abortion at Newsweek for two years.  So she was surprised at the discomfort she felt when faced with the prospect of watching an abortion for a story she was doing on Nebraska late-term abortionist, LeRoy Carhart.Kliff spent four days at Carhart’s Omaha clinic interviewing patients, hearing their stories and eventually viewing at least one first-trimester abortion.

“There was a discomfort I hadn’t expected,” she said, “my emotional reaction to watching abortions.  I had (and still have) difficulty understanding my own reaction, both relieved to have watched…and distressed by the emotionality of the process.”

It’s something many in the pro-abortion camp are reticent to admit.  Kliff faced odd reactions when she returned home.

“Friends who supported legal abortion bristled slightly when I told them where I’d been and what I’d watched,” she said.  “Acquaintances at a party looked a bit regretful to have asked about my most recent assignment.”

Carrie Gordon Earll, senior bioethics analyst at Focus on the Family Action, said the inner struggle is hard to ignore.

“When you come face to face with the violence of what abortion really is,” she said, “it can be a different story, as this reporter learned.  Abortion kills children, and witnessing an abortion demands a response to that truth.”

Kliff acknowledged that abortion is not just another medical procedure.

“Abortion involves weighty choices that, depending on how you view it,” she said, “involve a life, or the potential for life.”

Earll said, “The finality of abortion is almost palpable and once it’s done, someone has died and you cannot reverse it.  That may be what the reporter experienced.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Abortion intersects with law and medicine.  Learn more on the Issue Analysis page on CitizenLink.com.

Read the Newsweek article.

(NOTE: Referral to Web sites not produced by Focus on the Family Action is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites’ content.)

Unexpected Advice

Planned Parenthood in South Korea

August 3, 2009

In the 1960s, the average South Korean woman gave birth to six children during her lifetime. Forty years later, South Korea has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world—slightly more than one child per woman.

The sharp decline in fertility threatens the social harmony and “sustainable development of Korean society.” Concern over the “national crisis of super-low fertility” has prompted calls for political and cultural changes from unexpected quarters.

“Crisis” is not too strong a word. Its low fertility rate means that South Korea will soon become an aged nation. Within 25 years, Korea will go from 7 percent of its population being over 65 to 20 percent. In this respect, it will become much like its neighbor and rival Japan—a homogeneous society whose low birthrates threaten its survival.

Along the way, South Korea’s export-driven prosperity will fall prey to its demographics. As the number of working-age people declines, more and more of its economy will go to supporting its aging population. Currently, there are seven working-age people for every retiree. Within 10 years, that number will be reduced to four and a half. By the middle of this century, the ratio will be close to one-to-one—simply not sustainable.

After years of encouraging families to have only one child, the government has done an about-face. It established a “Low Fertility Rate and Aging Society Commission” under the direct control of the president.

But as Choi Seon-jeong realizes, government policies aren’t enough. He notes that attitudes “towards marriage and having children has changed a lot among the younger generation. They think more highly of relationships with their partners and are less likely to depend for fulfillment on their children.”

Choi called on “religious groups . . . to advocate respect for life, abortion prevention and positive values on marriage and parenthood, [and urge] the younger generation to form families and have children.”

This is good advice for any society. What makes it extraordinary is that Choi is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Korea!

Commenting on the irony, Choi says that “as the needs of Korean society have changed” his federation’s goals have changed. They are now promoting “child-bearing and child-rearing.”

“Needs of society,” promoting child-bearing and child-rearing, respect for life? You won’t hear those words from American Planned Parenthood officials. Their sole concern is personal autonomy—the “right to choose” is so sacrosanct that even talking about respect for life is seen as a threat to individual autonomy, and talking about the birth dearth is depicted as an attack on the freedom of women.

What’s happening, you see here, is that the Koreans are recognizing what Phillip Johnson, the great scholar, calls the postmodern impasse. In today’s “I’ll do it my way” relativistic society, with no over-arching moral truth, when we get what we want—that is, choice and self-gratification—we discover we can’t live with it.

Fewer kids mean that we become extinct. And their worldview, they discover, just doesn’t work.

The Koreans have come to their senses. Maybe they can get their American counterparts to face reality as well.

2 resign from women’s health panel

by Matthew Benson – Aug. 2, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Two members of the Governor’s Commission on Women’s and Children’s Health have resigned in protest of actions by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer that they say have undermined the panel’s mission and endangered public health.

Stepping down were Planned Parenthood Arizona Chairwoman Dr. Candace Lew and President and CEO Bryan Howard. In a letter to Brewer last week, the two accused her of allowing political considerations to guide her administration’s health policy, especially when it comes to family planning

and sex education.

“We cannot continue – through our participation in the commission – to endorse the numerous policies your administration has taken that endanger women’s health,” Lew and Howard wrote Brewer. “Since you’ve taken office it has become clear that political priorities outweigh women’s health priorities.”

Brewer’s office disputed the charge that she has politicized the state’s response to health issues.

“The governor – both in actions and what she has stated in her goals – has demonstrated a commitment to women’s health and state services that can continue to provide for those women who are at risk,” Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said.

Brewer took office in January following the resignation of Gov. Janet Napolitano. While it’s no surprise that the socially conservative Brewer has taken a different tack on abortion and related issues than her Democratic predecessor, Lew and Howard suggested that she has frozen out Planned Parenthood and refused repeated requests to meet since becoming governor.

Specifically, they cited Brewer’s signing into law of strict anti-abortion regulations this year, including the creation of a 24-hour waiting period on women seeking the procedure and the requirement that minors first receive written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian.

In addition, Lew and Howard noted Brewer’s decision to accept more than $1 million in federal grant funding for abstinence-only education in schools and said she has rescinded an agreement between the state Department of Health Services and Planned Parenthood to promote testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Senseman said that he did not have any knowledge of a broken agreement with regard to STD treatment and testing and added that the governor was “very pleased that the state of Arizona applied for and was granted $1 million from the Obama administration for abstinence funding.”

The 23-member Governor’s Commission was created under Republican former Gov. Jane Hull and is charged with improving the health of Arizona women and children while reducing health-care costs.

Republic reporter Amy B Wang contributed to this article.

Movie Review: My Sister’s Keeper

by Jennifer Lahl

Any society that permits the use of medical technology to create human life either to destroy or commodify, no matter how valuable the aim, is a culture in moral decline. The film My Sister’s Keeper depicts the confusion and suffering that results when one human life is objectified for the use of another.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult’s 2004 novel, just came out on the big screen. Joining other films that address bioethical issues such as Gattaca, Million Dollar Baby and The Island, My Sister’s Keeper takes on a real-life issue commonly known as “savior sibling.”

A “savior sibling” refers to the creation of a genetically matched human being, in order to be the savior of a sick child in need of a donor. This requires creating human embryos in vitro using the egg from the mother and the sperm from the father. Then, using pre-implantation technology, the embryos are tested, and the one deemed genetically compatible is implanted into the mother’s womb in order for the embryo to grow and develop. Once that baby is delivered, the cord blood is often collected because it provides a perfect match for the sick sibling. Later on, as shown in My Sister’s Keeper, bone marrow, blood, or even organs, can also be taken and used for transplantation for the sick sibling.

Savior siblings are already a reality, and the use of such practices in the United States is not prohibited. Adam Nash remains the most famous savior sibling in the U.S. Adam was born in 2000 to rescue his sister Mollie, who was diagnosed with Fanconi’s anemia. Mollie would have died if not for a matched donor. Doctors created 30 embryos from four rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to finally produce Adam, who was the match Mollie needed. Of course, the ethics of the disposition of the 29 other embryos is quite problematic. Adam was chosen, 29 other human lives were not, simply because their DNA was not able to rescue Mollie from a deadly diagnosis.

In Picoult’s story, the film opens with a voice-over narration of Anna Fitzgerald, the savior sibling. Anna describes herself as a “designer baby.” Note to self – beware of euphemisms. Euphemisms are rampant in the world of IVF. Selective reduction refers to a situation in which many embryos are transferred into a mother’s womb, and then if too many of them implant, the physician, with the parents’ consent, removes the “extra” embryos. Although the removed embryos die because a lethal dose of potassium chloride is injected into the fetal heart, we politely talk about “selective reductions”.

“Family balancing”, “social sex-selection” and “gender selection” are euphemisms used to discuss the use of these technologies to intentionally select your children based on the parents preference for a boy or a girl. Of course, these euphemistic phrases are used to play down the fact that people are ordering—that is shopping for— their children purely based on desired characteristics. If you want a boy, you screen the embryos, select the male embryo, and discard the female ones in order to “balance” your family. Heaven forbid we should have unbalanced families!

The practice of social sex-selection is banned in Canada, so Canadians who wish to order the sex of their children come to the U.S. Social sex-selection is just another euphemism with deadly ramifications. Doctors in the United States are selecting healthy babies for termination because they are the wrong sex. Surely these are symptoms of a culture in decline!

Anna Fitzgerald, the self-described designer baby in Picoult’s story—designer not as in Prada, or Coach, or Gucci, but more or less like a cafeteria-style menu selection—was conceived for the purpose of being the donor for her sister, Kate. Kate, diagnosed as a young child with leukemia, needs a bone marrow transplant, but none are available. Family members are tested, but no one is a match. She is dying and time is running out, so the family’s physician recommends something “off the record.” He suggests creating a donor sibling.

In the opening of the film, Anna is not quite accurate in her description of how she was made. She suggests that the doctors took the best part of her mom’s DNA and the best part of her dad’s DNA and voila— the perfect match was made. If we as a society are going to be able to have an earnest conversation on the ethics of creating savior siblings, we must be intellectually honest with the facts and accuracy of the procedure. Embryos—as in multiple embryos, were created, and then tested, and only the one that would provide the genetic match was brought to term. The other embryos were discarded. This is high-tech eugenics: being selected only because of your “useful” genes or being terminated because you have the wrong genetic make-up.

From this point on, the film does a good job of addressing some real issues head on, showing the complexity of the ethical realities, while fortunately not leaving the audience with a romanticized “happily ever after” ending.

The film poignantly shows the absolute devastation parents feel when told that their child has a dreadful disease that will most likely kill her. There is no sugar coating of the stress that is placed on a marriage or other children in the family, and the strained family dynamics when a child is seriously or chronically ill. That means gut-wrenching decisions, and the constant suggestion that all hope is lost and all you have to grasp for are straws.

The film deals directly with Anna’s life and experience of being put through numerous medical procedures from the time of her birth culminating in an immanent kidney donation procedure as her sister nears death. She knows that she is a product who only exists because someone else desperately needed her—or parts of her at least.

Here is the heart of the ethical matter at hand. Technology, apart from any ethical or moral compass, has progressed to the point where, for the first time in history, we are able to intentionally create human life and allow it to fully develop solely because we need the specific characteristics of that life to save another.

Perhaps even more worrisome is the reality that other lives were created, and then destroyed because they did not perfectly meet the need of another. Realistically, there could be several embryos which provided the genetic match, but since only one is needed; even embryos which make the cut are discarded. In our desire to relieve suffering, to seek healing and cures, and to avoid death, we have crossed a bright ethical line by seeking to use one human life for the good of another.

Where does this line of moral reasoning end?

Whether we look for moral guidance from our religious texts or to secular historical documents, it is important that we as a society remain rooted in the belief in the inherent dignity of all persons. The U.N. Declaration on Human Rights warns that wherever there is “disregard and contempt for human rights,” “barbarous acts” are sure to follow. Surely, the rights of the savior sibling have been denied when from their first breath they are being used as a means to an end. The World Medical Declaration of Helsinki claims that, “the duty of the physician is to promote and safeguard the health of patients.” Isn’t there an immediate conflict of interest between the doctor and the patient, not to mention the savior sibling, who has nothing to gain, but perhaps is exposed to medical risk while not even being a patient?

Creating a savior sibling is a direct violation of the dignity of that person. It treats human life as something to be made, manufactured and used as a commodity.

Early in the film, Anna hires an attorney and announces, “I want to sue my parents for the rights to my own body.” From the moment of birth, the savior sibling has been denied the full rights to her own body, and to willingly and freely be her sister’s keeper.