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Uniting for Life

Fall, 2001

National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc.,
109 2nd St. N.E.
Washington, 20013


From the President:

I had the unhappy privilege of touring the Pentagon and Ground Zero crash sites of the September 11 attack. To stand near the fiery graves of so many innocent people was overwhelming to say the least. So much disrespect for human life in one place at one time. The only other occasion when I felt such a void in my soul was when I visited what remains of Dachau concentration camp in Germany nearly twenty years ago. Such feelings should only occur in one's life every 20 years.

But, wait a minute. More than 5,000 innocent lives willfully terminated in one day is far too great a crime -- far too great a sin -- to be comprehended, much less accepted and moved on from. So, why then do so many of us do so with routine regularity when it comes to the willful termination of preborn innocent human life? I have at least a partial theory why.

We pro-life advocates have long said that if the beauty of life from its earliest stages could be seen more accurately and more often, the attitude towards abortion in our culture would be very different. If the womb were only transparent, many would rethink abortion.

Well, that day has come. Not only do we now have 3-D color sonography - the window to the womb - but, we also have a grand and horrible lesson in the evil of disrespecting the sanctity of innocent human life. What the devil meant for evil is indeed being turned to good by an almighty God. There is a new appreciation for the treasure that is every human life. And, I believe, there is a new disdain for those who disrespect it.

Let us mourn the enormous tragedy of this unspeakably grotesque act of mass murder. But, let us remember that it is only the most spectacular sort of this sin. The killing of the innocent goes on all around us every day. Let us pray that these new lessons in morality will take hold in the hearts, minds and consciences of Americans, and especially in the next generation of Americans. Just as past wars have provided a platform to teach virtue, so should this latest Day of Infamy.

Let's take what the devil did on September 11 and turn it on him by renewing our commitment to preach, teach and live the Gospel of Life. Let's turn this terrible loss into gain by employing it as an asset in the work that our Lord has given us to do.

"Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." (St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, Chap. 12:21 NASB) See you on the front lines.

Yours for Life,
Rev. Rob Schenck, President

Lutherans for Life Offer Sanctity of Human Life Educational Materials

By Rev. James Lamb, LFL Executive Director

According to Lutherans For Life Executive Director, Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, "Our goal for 2002 is to help God's people better understand what Martin Luther called the 'Theology of the Cross' and the practical applications this has to the problems God's people face in their lives. Christians are no different than anyone else when it comes to having problems. Christians, however, see things differently. Christians not only see their problems, they can see what is 'hiding' in those problems. Just as we can see God's love 'hiding' in the suffering of Jesus on the cross, so we can see things of God 'hiding' in our own suffering. That is why we do not have to resort to death as the solution to the problems of life."

Lutherans For Life believes that the Church is compelled by God's Word to speak and act on behalf of those who are vulnerable and defenseless. The crisis of our times is the repudiation of Biblical truth manifested in the wanton destruction of innocent human life through legalized abortion-on-demand and the growing threat to the lives of others through legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia. Therefore, as Lutherans For Life, we will strive to give witness, from a Biblical perspective, to the Church and society on these and other related issues such as chastity, post abortion healing, and family life.

To help congregations proclaim the "Life Under the Cross" message Lutherans For Life has produced Life Sunday bulletin inserts, sermons, worship services, and other materials that are useable throughout the year.

Lutherans For Life's message for Life Sunday January 20, 2002, is "Life Under the Cross," based on Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Life Sunday commemorates the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973 legalizing abortion in all nine months of pregnancy.

New Life Sunday materials for 2002 include bulletin inserts, bible study, children's message, a sermon pack, the "For Life" video, and "God Loves Life" audio cassette/sheet music. Sermons are also available on computer disc. To order materials, call: 888-364-Life or 515-382-2077, or fax 515-382-3020.

The Spin on Stem Cells

By Georgette Forney, Executive Director, National Organization of Episcopalians for Life

"For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb... my frame was not hidden from Thee when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. " (Psalm 139)

When President Bush started studying the issue of whether federal funds should be used for embryonic stem cell research this summer, the issue finally made it onto America's radar screen. There has been a lot of 'spin' about cloning and stem cells, but I sense, from the questions I've been asked a lot of people are not sure what's fact and what's science fiction. To help make informed decisions, we need the facts, not 'spin.' Here are the basic facts:

Human embryonic stem cells are really totipotent and pluripotent cells that are capable of becoming organs and tissue in the human body. There are three types of stem cells:

What is a stem cell?

1) Embryonic stem cells are found in human embryos. When the stem cells are removed from the embryo, the embryo's life is ended.

2) Stem cells taken from an umbilical cord or placenta are considered non-embryonic stem cells.

3) Adult stem cells refer to all stem cells that are taken from adult tissue, e.g., blood, fat tissue, organs, and bone marrow.

Are embryonic stem cells better than adult stem cells?

There are three reasons noted by researchers, for preferring embryonic stem cells: they are easier to harvest, there are more stem cells in an embryo than in an adult, and they are more 'plastic'- that is they can be more easily changed into every organ and tissue in the body

But the harvesting issue is misleading because researchers have been extracting some types of human adult stem cells for almost a decade, while human embryo stem cells were only isolated in 1998.

And, several biotech companies have developed proprietary methods to make adult-cell isolation and extraction even easier. Also, a company in New Jersey Anthrogenesis Corp., recently announced it had been able to collect 10 times as many stem cells from a single post birth placenta as have been gathered from any other single source, and every year over four million umbilical cords are discarded. In addition, scientists have now discovered stem cells in adults in virtually every major organ, including the brain.

Regarding the third reason embryos are preferred, their 'plasticity' their strength is also their down side. Glenn McGee, a bioethicist from the University of Pennsylvania told MIT's Technology Review, "The emerging truth in the lab is that pluripotent [embryonic] stem cells are hard to rein in. The potential that they would explode into a cancerous mass after a stem-cell transplant might turn out to be the Pandora's box of embryonic stem-cell research."

Another issue raised with the use of embryonic stem cells is the need for the patient receiving the cells to use anti-rejection drugs, as the cells will be foreign to the patient's body. However, this is not an issue with adult stem cells, as the patient's own cells can be drawn from his or her body.

Where do the embryos come from?

In-vitro fertilization clinics for couples suffering from infertility allow more eggs to be fertilized than are implanted. The leftover embryos are the ones that researchers want to use. Parents must give permission for their embryo offspring to be used in research. Based on conservative estimates, there are approximately 150,000 tiny frozen human beings in IVF clinics. In 1978, Louise Brown was the first 'test-tube baby' creating a new era of human reproduction. The stem cell issue is causing many to reconsider the ethics of IVF treatment.

We know an embryo is a human being.

The argument that embryos aren't human beings contradicts scientific fact. The widely used medical textbook by Moore and Persaud, "The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology" (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1998) states on page 2 that "The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous... This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [eggJ and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being... " Atpage 18, this theme is repeated: "Human development begins at fertilization [emphasis in original) ... " TheAmerican Medical Associations Encyclopedia of Medicine has this definition of an embryo from the 1989 edition - 'From the time of conception until the eighth week, the developing baby is known as an embryo. "

Adult Stem Cell Research Results

1) Adult bone marrow stem cells have been morphed into kidney cells, potentially providing a real breakthrough for treatment of kidney disease; a German man given a transplant of his own bone marrow stem cells to repair his heart is doing well. (Reuters News Service)

2) Two different patients, a 16 year-old and a 22 year-old, both suffering from Crohn's Disease have received their own blood stem cells to repair their immune systems. Both patients' show signs of complete recovery. Similar processes have been used to treat Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis successfully.

3) Melissa Holley, an American teenager whose spinal cord was severed in an auto accident, leaving her a paraplegic has recovered significant motor function in her legs and regained bladder control following an injection of immune cells from her own blood into the damaged area of her spinal cord

4) Harvard Medical School recently reported that adult stem cells affected a 'permanent reversal' of Type 1 diabetes in mice. A trial for patients has already begun at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

5) Stem Cells, Inc. is using adult stem cell research to develop methods for regenerating damaged central nervous systems and restoring functions to kidneys.

Embryonic stem cell research

- A report from China described how implanted fetal tissue became bone, skin and hair cells inside a test subject's brain. The subject died.

- In an experiment on Parkinson's patients, fetal tissue was implanted into their brain cells, the experimental treatment was a failure and some patients suffered side effects described as 'absolutely devastating, tragic, and catastrophic.'

To date, thousands of patients have been helped with adult stem cell research and therapies but none have benefited from embryonic stem cell research. Scientific results provide the best reason federal funding should focus on research with adult stem cells.

Life Under Attack

John B. Brown, Jr., United Church of Christ Friends For Life

"America Under Attack" was a phrase on the lips of many following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on September 11. The losses in these attacks are the worst of any one day period in American history, including times of war, according to one TV commentator.

Viewed from a pro-life perspective, however, these terrible losses are overshadowed by the even greater loss of life that our nation has experienced through legalized abortion since 1973. The truth is, that life, the sanctity of all human life, is under attack. Terrorists are willing to destroy lives indiscriminately. Though America as the primary target in the September 11 attacks, the citizens of nearly 60 other nations also died at he World Trade Center. Abortion is a bit more discriminating, targeting as it does the unborn.

Motives also differ, in that those who choose abortion often do so more for reasons of fear and convenience than hatred. But the victims in every instance are innocent, and the end result of the attacks of terrorism and abortion upon human life is death.

In Proverbs 8:36 it says that "All those who hate me (the Wisdom of the Lord) are in love with death." Sadly there are men and women in nations around the globe who are in love with death, and as long as this is true, there will be innocent victims in increasing numbers. For us who respect life, and the Author of life, the task is to build a culture of life, and to restore respect for the sanctity of every human being, including those with whom we disagree, including even the lives of terrorists. It is the desire of God, wrote St. Paul, to save every human being, and to bring them to a knowledge of truth. We are to be instruments of his grace and truth, and in this present moment, with much wisdom and sensitivity, do all that we can to raise the awareness of a mourning nation to include the unborn, the handicapped, the chronically ill, and the elderly.

The extraordinary generosity and courage of the American people in response to the recent tragedies has been heartwarming. Equally so has been the deep sense of unity that has arisen throughout this great country, along with a growing determination on the part of our leaders to find those responsible for these outrageous acts and somehow to bring them to justice.

When that courage and generosity and determination are brought to bear on the other assaults on human life in this world, the result will truly be a culture of life. To encourage that wider focus must be our life task, and our constant prayer.

Rev. John Brown, National Pro-Life Religious Council

Action Alert to Prohibit Human Cloning

Please write to your two U. S. Senators and urge them to cosponsor or support Senator Brownback's bill, S. 790, to prohibit human cloning. This is similar to the Weldon-Stupak Human Cloning Prohibition Act (H.R. 2505) which was passed by the House in July. Ask them to oppose any substitute measure that would allow "therapeutic cloning," because this term really means that human embryos would be created in large numbers simply to be killed in research ("clone and kill"). Also urge the Senators to oppose Senator Arlen Specter's S. 723, which would authorize federal funding of research which would require the killing of human embryos in order to obtain their stem cells. The address for all U. S. Senators is:

Senator ____________
U. S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Doctrine of Creation and the Culture of Death

By Rev Kirk van der Swaagh, Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

I have become increasingly convinced that the crisis of the much needed global responsibility is in principle due to the fact that we have lost the certainty that the Universe, nature, existence and our lives are the work of Creation guided by a definite intention, that it has definite meaning and follows a definite purpose.

Where were you when 1 laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Job 38:4

When from out of the whirlwind God confronts Job as to the musings and pronouncements of those gathered, his question is implicitly one of origins. Job, from where have you come? Did I make you or did you make me? Do I not stand before all things and their existence? Who has the wisdom and power to create and sustain all that is around you? This question introduces us to a most important doctrine of the church -- in fact, the most important in our current cultural climate, I would argue. This is the doctrine included in the first article of the Apostle's Creed: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Unfortunately, unlike the ancient fathers of the church, some Christians shy away from affirming this essential truth.

It is quite remarkable how we in the church have been cowed by the doctors of science. Perhaps not wanting to appear unsophisticated, or to suffer another humiliating defeat at the hands of an able lawyer, we have tried to negotiate the supposed findings of science with the biblical presentation of a Creation that has been fashioned, as John Calvin states; as a spectacle of God's glory. But this is not without consequence.

Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic having witnessed the rise of civil war and human cruelty, in a 1998 article made a call for the reestablishment of the transcendent in the world. As he notes, with the loss of the transcendent, humanity hasn't a reason to act responsibly; this loss is accompanied by the loss of the understanding that whatever we do must be subjected to the regard for the higher order of which we are a part and to the respect for its authority in whose field of vision every one of us is permanently present.

Though he eventually collapses into humanistic pleadings, Havel perceptively senses that society's condition, which has produced, among other things, the assault on life, which the NPRC has been chronicling for some 20 years, is a product of the notion promulgated by moderns that there is no certainty of a God who stands outside of our existence; and that we all are the product of random and unguided events. As such, we are not answerable to anyone and there are no ultimate consequences for our actions. Even heinous acts can remain unchecked if we have no fear of death or judgment.

But we Christians should know better. The biblical witness presumes the doctrine of Creation. The passages are too numerous to mention that treat all of the Universe as something wrought by God's hand. It figures into our entire relationship with God: justice, judgment, stewardship, obedience, eternal life, are all connected to the notion that God is the Creator, we the creature, and we are obliged to know this God and what he expects of us. In this respect Havel is right.

I humbly submit that we can fortify our fight against the culture of death by openly and vigorously reaffirming the doctrine of Creation.

In his article, Havel ponders the root cause of the human indifference and arrogance which he has witnessed. He states that it is his deep conviction that the only option is a change in the sphere of the spirit, in the sphere of human conscience, in the actual attitude of man toward the world. It is not enough to invent new machines, new regulations, or new institutions. We must understand differently and more perfectly the true purpose of our existence on this earth. He questions: might not the societal problems that he outlines be the result of a loss of metaphysical certitude . . . in simple terms . . . the loss of God? Or more specifically: the loss of respect for the order of existence of which we are not the creators but in which we participate as created beings.

Confronted by such metaphysical certitude Job can only respond, "See, I am of small account; what shall 1 answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth" Job 40:3-4.


Home. Questions and answers. Newsletters. Audio clips. Press releases. Member organizations. Join us. Contact us.

Questions and answers.
Audio clips.
Press releases.
Member organizations.
Join us.
Contact us.