‘Flash of Light’ Not Needed to Prove Conception

A fluorescent flash captures the moment that sperm enzyme enters the egg — see photos at http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2016/05/flash-of-light-not-needed-to-prove-conception/#.V0TTgvkrLIU In a May 23, 2016, National Catholic Register article, ”Contrary to Reports, There is No Flash of Light at Conception,” writer Stacy Trasancos takes some people who wrote about the amazing research article and video to task for exaggerations: “At conception, there is no flash of light, no burst of fireworks, no sparks flying, no fiat lux, no scientific proof of ensoulment, no vindication of doctrine by this research. There is a misunderstanding.” She is right that claims of ensoulment or actual “fireworks” in the mother is a misunderstanding. That is not what the authors of the research were writing about. But while I understand Ms. Trasancos’ point about the over- excitement by some writers, the phenomenon itself actually is a pretty big deal. I am a nurse, not a scientist, but I read the scientific article myself before I wrote a recent blog on the research. The researchers were not trying to make a theological or philosophical point but rather reporting a testing phenomenon: “We monitored calcium and zinc dynamics in individual human eggs using selective fluorophores following activation with calcium-ionomycin, ionomycin, or hPLC? cRNA microinjection. These egg activation methods, as expected, induced rises in intracellular calcium levels and also triggered the coordinated release of zinc into the extracellular space in a prominent “zinc spark.” For the lay audience, the truly relevant point is that there IS a moment of “human egg activation.” Using fluorescence to show a chemical reaction accompanying that moment of activation enhances the reality of when life...

On Matters of Life and Death, Where Are We Now?

Taking Stock: Where Are We Now? Taking stock of where one is at the beginning of a new project or a new year is a good idea. Where we are in the entire realm of bioethics is beyond the scope of a mere e-newsletter, but what follows are some landmarks discernible in January 2016 . . . On Matters of Life and Death Physician-Assisted Suicide On Sunday, 24 January, John Jay Hooker, Tennessee lawyer, politician, and activist, died. Mr. Hooker had most recently championed “death with dignity” –physician-assisted suicide — in a proposed bill and in the courts. By the time of his death, neither the legislature nor the courts had provided him the decision he had recently pursued. The “Death with Dignity” bill was sponsored in the Tennessee legislature by Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley. Quoted in The Tennessean, Mr. Fitzhugh honored his friend, Mr. Hooker, with these words: “I found his love for our great state to be enormous, and unceasing. Until his last breath, he was committed to helping others, fighting for what he believed to be right, and being a voice for the voiceless.” There seems no lack of dignity in Mr. Hooker’s death. We are HERE: Mr. Hooker died while his case was pending before the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and that case awaits another plaintiff — http://wjhl.com/2016/01/25/die-with-dignity-bill-still-on-file-after-john-jay-hookers-death/ Three-Parent Embryos These were approved in the UK in (February) 2015 — http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289706.php?trendmd-shared=0 We are HERE: In the U.S., the matter is under consideration by the FDA, and we await their decision. CRISPR How it works: “Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that...

Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance — United States, 2012

Since the first U.S. infant conceived with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) was born in 1981, both the use of advanced technologies to overcome infertility and the number of fertility clinics providing ART services have increased steadily in the United States. ART includes fertility treatments in which eggs or embryos are handled in the laboratory (i.e., in vitro fertilization [IVF] and related procedures). In 1996, CDC began collecting data on ART procedures performed in fertility clinics in the United States. This report includes data from 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). In 2012, a total of 157,635 ART procedures performed in 456 U.S. fertility clinics were reported to CDC. These procedures resulted in 51,261 live-birth deliveries and 65,151 infants. Sunderam S, PhD, Kissin DM, MD, Crawford SB, PhD, et al. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2015;64(No. SS-6) Vol. 64, No. SS-6, August 14,...

The National Infertility Association Fights the Term ‘Embryo Adoption’: “Meet the Families Who ‘Adopted’ Their Kids — As Embryos”

[Comment: Note these passage in the article: “We definitely use the term ‘embryo donation,’” Barbara Collura, president of Resolve: The National Infertility Association, tells Yahoo Health. “It’s not only deemed more accurate — the most accurate way of discussing this family-building option — but it’s very deliberate for Resolve to use that term. We never refer to it as embryo adoption.” Their reasoning: Just like someone who donates eggs or sperm, a person “has created this, or has this, genetic material and wants to donate or give it to someone else,” she explains. Meanwhile, the term “adoption” rose out of child welfare issues, Collura says. It’s “used to talk about the welfare of a living human being and about finding permanent homes for human beings who have already been born.” She notes that the term has a long history with U.S. policies governing public health and child welfare. There have been “years and years of laws and regulations and safeguards in place for how kids and babies are adopted in the United States,” adds Collura, and this system is radically different from that involving embryos. The donation of an embryo from one family to another is legally considered to be a property transfer, and not an adoption. For Collura, the use of the word adoptive holds significance not just in her professional life but in her personal life, too. “I am an adoptive parent,” she explains, and “I know what I went through with the adoption of my son. It is really, really important for us to not speak of an embryo as a person: A fertilized egg is...

Nick Loeb‚ Little Girls and the Paradoxes of IVF

The way the media reports it, it is a freakish story. Two well-known Hollywood celebrities, Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb, are involved in what amounts to a custody battle over frozen embryos that they had conceived together, through in vitro fertilization, back when they were an item. Vergara, a major star known for her role in Modern Family, is now engaged to marry yet another celebrity. She allegedly wants to thaw, and thus destroy, the embryos; she certainly wants to prevent their implantation and birth. This has been treated by most commentators as a perfectly reasonable determination. But Loeb, the father, isn’t in accord with the Spirit of the Age on this point. He actually has the temerity to refer to the embryos as his “girls” and boldly insists that he wants to save their lives. When the story broke, wannabe celebrities—that is, reporters in the entertainment field—immediately strove to establish their progressive credentials by condemning Loeb’s absurd concern for human life. Lisa Guerrero, of Inside Edition, tweeted: “#NickLoeb is the ultimate jilted, obsessive, controlling ex….” What? Value of human life? Was Nick Loeb nuts? And Kristen Caires, of the prestigious philosophical journal People, tweeted: “Hey #NickLoeb you’re mental.” A column in The New York Post even demanded that Loeb shut up about “Sofia’s eggs” as if the in vitro fertilization had never occurred. None of the celebrity journalists paused to consider how the very existence of the contested human embryos called into question the assumptions at the heart of that other troublesome embryonic issue: • Advocates of the right to abortion obsessively appeal to a woman’s right to...