Tag Archives: life science

Why I’m hopeful about 2017

For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a President who has made very specific promises in writing to the pro-life movement. He’s pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion, defund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, sign a bill banning abortions when babies have proven to feel pain, and appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices.

Kristan Hawkins

Kristan Hawkins

Savor the meaning of those words for a minute. At this very moment in time, any American who believes abortion is a moral evil that should ultimately become unthinkable, demoted to a relic of history, and an unimaginable concept for future generations, should be waking up every morning with an unparalleled optimism about the future.

But it’s not just about a new Congress and Administration. Laws and government are changed by culture and, indeed, the culture is changing.

For the past several years, a pro-life undercurrent has been slowly moving the American public. Th€is current generation of Millennials holds positions that are more pro-life than their parents and grandparents. In recent polling from the Institute for Pro-Life Advancement (IPA), 53% of Millennials agreed that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances, with the exception of rape, incest and life of the mother. A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll over the summer confirmed those findings. Only 17% said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time in the pregnancy, which is the present platform of the Democratic Party. €

The IPA poll only confirms a recognized trend. According to the National Journal, in 2012 Millennials were the largest age group (52%) that favored a ban on abortions at 20 weeks, when science tells us the fetus is able to feel pain. Also in 2012, only 37% of Millennials believed abortion was morally acceptable.

But beyond the polls, what are the tangible signs that the nation is moving in a more pro-life direction?

Students for Life of America started with 181 high school and college groups in 2006. Today, there are over 1,100 college, high school, middle school, young adult, medical and law school Students for Life groups covering all 50 states. €They are actively engaged in educating their peers about abortion, helping student mothers who are facing unplanned pregnancies, and being a voice for the pro-life generation.

In contrast, Planned Parenthood just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Th€ey currently have around 670 facilities, and they proudly boast 275 campus pro-choice groups. €

This is the hope that does not disappoint.

Planned Parenthood has been in existence 10 times longer than Students for Life, has spent billions more dollars than anyone can possibly imagine, and has friends in very high places. Yet, for all its pink, it cannot hide the fact that they are losing this generation, that they are losing the fight to win the hearts and minds of young women and men, the next leaders of this great nation.

Th€ere are countless stories on campuses from California to Virginia, from Alaska to Michigan and everywhere in between that are affecting real change. €There are passionate young pro-lifers that sidewalk counsel no matter how cold or hot it is outside the abortion facility. €There are groups of young adults that have organized event after event to benefit mothers in need. Th€ere are students who have had their pro-life chalkings erased and washed away in the middle of the night only to go back, re-chalk, and hold civil conversations with the vandals, planting the pro-life seeds of thought in their hearts. €There are brave high school students who have publicly called out their school administrators for not allowing their pro-life clubs in their schools. €

This is happening everywhere, and this is why abortion will become unthinkable in our lifetimes.

Millennials are blazing the path towards abolishing abortion. It was Millennials who initially exposed Planned Parenthood’s cover-up of child abuse and rape. It was a Millennial who released undercover videos that forced the president of Planned Parenthood to issue a widely criticized “apology” when her organization was caught selling aborted baby body parts for profit. I myself am a Millennial, and I’m honored to be a Legatus member serving as the leader of one of our movement’s largest grassroots networks.

Th€is is why I have hope in 2017.


KRISTAN HAWKINS is a member of Legatus’ Twin Cities Chapter and president of Students for Life of America.

The dangers of doing good

Medicine and life science professionals are constantly working to help others. However, attempts to help can lead to terrible abuses. This is why the Church must place its highly developed moral tradition at the service of those who turn to medicine and the life sciences for help.

Dr. John Haas

Dr. John Haas

A French Catholic geneticist, Jerome Lejeune, discovered the cause of Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities. Having discovered its cause, he hoped that science would be able to ameliorate its effects. But he was terribly dismayed by what in fact occurred. Today 92% of children diagnosed in utero with the disorder are killed before birth.

An American Catholic surgeon, Joseph Murray, performed the first living organ transplant. This was a most laudable development and has helped save countless lives. However, it has also led to a robust illegal trade in human organs.

A man in New York needs a kidney. His physician contacts a broker in Israel who contacts his supplier in Manila. The man in Manila goes into the slums and finds a healthy young man and pays him, perhaps, $1,500 for his kidney. The organ is flown to South Africa where the New York man receives it as a transplant. The American has paid $75,000 for his kidney. The man in Manila has one less kidney and can suffer medical complications because of a lack of follow-up care.

The Medical Daily reported in 2013 that the illegal organ trade generates annual profits between $600 million and $1.2 billion. That same article pointed out that wealthy patients can pay up to $190,000 for a single kidney. The leading recipient nations of these organs are the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Israel and Japan. The nations from which these kidneys come are referred to as the “donor nations.” It would be more accurate to describe them as the “exploited nations” since they include impoverished countries in South America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Attempts to overcome infertility is another area of medicine that has sought to help others. In vitro fertilization is a technique by which human eggs and sperm are placed in a petri dish with the hope that fertilization will occur. If embryos are engendered, they’re placed in a woman’s womb to grow to full term. Usually three embryos are implanted and the remaining ones are frozen in liquid nitrogen for future use, experimented upon or discarded. If all three embryos successfully implant, which can be dangerous for the mother, the physicians engage in “fetal reduction.” They determine which of the children are least robust and then kill them. The attempt to engender life and overcome infertility has resulted very frequently in the destruction of life.

In 2013, it was reported that in Great Britain alone, 1.3 million embryos were discarded in the 21 years since records were kept. More than 3.5 million embryos had been engendered and only 7% led to live births. Of the embryos created, 839,325 were put into storage for future use and 2,071 were stored for donation to others. A further 5,876 were set aside for scientific research. Roughly 200,000 persons have been born through IVF in England. But one can only be appalled at the incredible waste of human life that results from a procedure that engenders 3.5 million human beings but which finally leads to only 200,000 live births.

IVF has also led to surrogacy by which a woman who has already borne children will be fertilized by the sperm from the husband in an infertile marriage or will have someone else’s embryos implanted. Again, this looks like an act of altruism to help those in need but often leads to exploitation. It’s worth noting that in the U.S., 20% of the surrogate babies born each year are carried by military wives — a group that actually represents less than 1% of the female population of childbearing age. Their husbands are often away for extended periods and military pay is very low. These women often need the additional money for their families, and so the practice leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.

Human beings have the potential for good because we have been created in the image and likeness of God. But they also have the inclination toward evil because of original sin. This is why the world needs the sure guidance of the Catholic Church’s Magisterium, which had warned against all these abuses of what should have been good developments.

DR. JOHN HAAS is president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.