Right to Life - Archive

Science & Technology Symposium Looks at Life

The 4th Annual Science and Technology Symposium was heldSept. 22 in Dayton, in which the firm LifeTech brought together professionals in scientific, technical and related fields to present research and technology relevant to human life issues.

Sponsored by Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, the purpose of the annual event is to bring the ideas of technical professionals to bear on issues related to the protection of life from conception to natural death.

Dr. Dennis Sullivan of Cedarville University speaks at the Science and Technology Symposium, held Sept. 22 in Dayton.

The LifeTech event promoted uses of science and technology to assist the unborn, elderly and handicapped rather than exploit them.

LifeTech is composed of computer and technology professionals.

Its primary activity is organizing and conducting the annual Pro-Life Science and Technology Symposium, which has been held annually since 2004.

Rita Marker, attorney and executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, gave the 2007 keynote address: “Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and Health Care Decisions ­ Legal and Practical Aspects.”

She touched on the issues of euthanasia, assisted suicide, “right-to-die” assisted suicide cases in Oregon, euthanasia practices in the Netherlands, disability rights and pain management.

Marker’ s advice about advance directives was simple: get one, and make it a durable power of attorney for health care, not a living will, if you want to choose the person who will make life and death decisions about your health care when you can’t.

When the Symposium opened, Paula Westwood, representing Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, welcomed the guests and speakers.

Kicking off the presentations, Don Humphreys, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cedarville University, discussed the ethical use of computer technology in right-to-life activism during a talk titled “Restraining the Web.”

Humphries said that technology at first appears value-free and ethically neutral, but the reality is that technical morality often blurs the lines between the means and the ends.

He framed the ethical dilemma that technology confers power, and it is illusory to believe that power will serve values.

It is necessary, Humphries said, to remember that God’s greatest commandments included the vertical component, “love God,” and the horizontal component, “love your neighbor,” making it morally responsible for man to agree to do all he is capable of doing where his neighbor is concerned.

Denise Mackura of Ohio Right to Life discussed the legal history of Supreme Court cases affecting abortion and “reproductive freedom.”

She pointed out that overturning Roe v. Wade will not make abortion illegal in all states but will send the decision back to the people of each state. She said that the people of 30 of the states had already rejected the notion of abortion on Jan. 21, 1973; that every Jan. 22, the justices of the Supreme Court are looking out their windows at the crowds on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and the importance of public demonstrations can’t be overestimated.

She said working to overturn the decision is vital because the overturn will stop a kind of poison that is polluting our legal thinking ­ the idea that abortion is killing but not murder, and it has the government’s stamp of approval.

Makura said it was important to continue showing that women don’t “need” abortion rights, and overturning Roe will have absolutely no effect on progress made in women’s rights or destabilize the legal system.

She recommended to always speak of “when” Roe is overturned, not “if” Roe is overturned.

The morning talks continued with another representative of Cedarville University, Dr. Dennis Michael Sullivan, who presented information about embryonic stem-cell research purporting to use non-destructive sources.

Sullivan said the legacy of in vitro fertilization, which began with the birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first test tube baby, has been an excess of frozen embryos with their potential for both life as people and as subjects for medical research.

These embryos contain the seductive embryonic stem cells, “pluripotent” cells, not yet differentiated, and the thought that they could be induced to become healthy pancreas cells for a diabetic, for example, is a heady one.

However, no embryonic stem cell has ever been induced to become a cell useful for medical purposes, and more importantly,it is never moral to destroy one person for the benefit of another, he said.

Sullivan said the race is on to create pluripotent cells from non-viable sources, and it is an indication that the moral issue is not immaterial. He indicated his disapproval of all of the methods he has seen so far proposed for harvesting pluripotent cells.

[ED. NOTE: SINCE THIS SYMPOSIUM, the iPSC has been developed. Skin cells apparently may be harmlessly reprogrammed to revert back to embryonic-like stem cells. This should make embryo-destructive stem cells obsolete.]

Larry Gearhart also looked at technical and moral issues in stem-cell research and reminded the seminar attendees that the value of human life is absolute, not functional.

These speakers seemed inclined to view the use of adult stem cells, harvested from consenting adults, with more approval.

Following Marker’s keynote address, the afternoon continued with Dr. Paul Byrne from St. Charles Mercy Hospital in a discussion of brain death, asking the question, “Is brain death true death?”

He showed how the term brain death is used mainly as a euphemism to encourage organ donation from living human beings.

Donna Murphy from Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati showed endoscopic images of developing babies, images that have helped people change their minds about having abortions.

The human development of tiny embryos as documented in endoscopic photography is hard to miss. Ultrasound technology is non-invasive and more commonly used to monitor development.

She said that the crisis pregnancy centers often have old worn out ultrasound equipment, and can’t always show a prospective mother how developed her child really is.

Event co-sponsors included LifeTech (formerly known as the Technology Task Force); Center for Life and Hope; Cincinnati Right to Life Education Foundation; Clark County Right to Life; Dayton Right to Life; Greene County Right to Life; Life Issues Institute; Ohio Right to Life Society; Priests for Life; Shelby County Right to Life; Tri County Right to Life Education Foundation; and Pregnant Pause.

LifeTech was initially founded as the Ohio Right to Life Technology Task Force to provide Ohio Right to Life with technical advice on applying technology to advancing the pro-life cause. It established the first ORTL web site, advised on upgrading the computer installation at ORTL, and it advised various Right to Life chapters in Ohio about computer selection and installation. It has since spun off as an independent organization and has gone on to other activities, primarily the organization and presentation of the Science and Technology Symposium annually.

Cheryl Eckstein, Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) www.chninternational.com/default.html  CHN is member of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life (WFDWRHL) Dr. Karl Gunning, Pres.

[28Sept07http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/tct/sep2807/092807science.html, By Susan Fox, Dayton]