TruLuv: Faith-Based Embryos
The Christian Medical and Dental Association, as I describe below, acts as a front for legitimizing religious right policies. Now, along with grant partner Baptist Health System Foundation in Knoxville, Tenn., CMDA received $309,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for an "embryo adoption awareness grant." (I wonder if Tru Luv would qualify? It has an awareness angle.)
The grant will support the National Embryo Donation Center:
When couples go through fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, there are usually an excess of fertilized eggs (embryos) that are cryopreserved - frozen and stored for later use.
Okay, here's the deal: when couples go through infertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization - something disapproved by the conservative wing of the Catholic Church and some religious fundamentalists, as I wrote in this article about an ongoing battle in Costa Rico -- embryos created in a laboratory are transferred into the woman's womb. More are created than can be transferred.
The embryos that can't be transferred are frozen. Here we get to the heart of the issue. Stem cells are commonly extracted from the unnecessary embryos or pre-embryos.
As we know, the religious right opposes research on the unused embryos for stem cell treatments, now matter how promising the scientific basis for finding cures. The religious right instead wants "adoption" of embryos-in- storage, which they like to call "snowflake babies." Since adoption only applies to living babies. this is a clever grafting of a religious right anti-abortion message ("adoption not abortion") to embryos-in-storage.
But now back to the Christian Medical and Dental Association. This is not simply a faith-based group, but a front group for the promotion of religious right policies. The CMDA lobbies to make abortion illegal and harder to get.
CMDA holds firmly that God is the Creator of life, that life begins at conception, and that all human life is of infinite value. We support measures to protect life from its earliest beginnings.
CMDA opposes emergency contraception -- not only access to it, but the actual product itself. It goes to bat to support the right of pharmacists to refuse to fill medical prescriptions (a topic about which moiv has written extensively at Talk2Action.)
From the Washington Post:
At least 18 states are already considering 36 bills. The flurry of political activity is being welcomed by conservative groups that consider it crucial to prevent health workers from being coerced into participating in care they find morally repugnant -- protecting their "right of conscience" or "right of refusal."
CMDA opposes stem cell research. It will not tolerate homosexuality (ironically lesbians are some of the likely customers for embryo adoption, but CMDA supports the right of physicians to refuse to help lesbians conceive.) It opposes the right of people to make end-of-life decisions. It even takes a position against evolution.
Criticizing a "Scientific Inquisition" aimed at squelching debate over exclusively teaching the theory of evolution, the Christian Medical Association today called for fair and open consideration of the scientific merits of intelligent design theory.
In an excellent article on the website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Do No Harm: Far-Right Medical Groups and Religion Don't Mix, Patricia Miller shines a bright light on the disingenuous CMDA.
Groups like the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), the Catholic Medical Association, Pharmacists for Life, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) trade on the professional credibility of doctors and other health professionals to oppose abortion and reproductive rights.
About CMDA specifically, Miller writes:
In many ways, CMDA looks like any of the many medical specialty societies in the United States. It offers continuing medical education for professionals, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education; has student chapters, and holds programs to address professional development issues. But the goal of the CMDA's programs is to advance conservative religious doctrine in health care. CMDA opposes cloning, stem cell research, abortion, emergency contraception, and assisted suicide. The association supports so-called "conscience clauses" that allow health providers to refuse to provide reproductive health services and promotes the scientifically unsupported view that oral contraceptives cause abortion. Unlike most medical specialty societies, the CMDA is not represented in the American Medical Association's House of Delegates because the AMA requires member organizations to not discriminate in membership on the basis of sexual orientation, and CMDA is anti-homosexual.
While the CMDA positions itself as within the medical mainstream, its positions are not mainstream and are often based on pseudoscientific claims propagated by the anti-choice community. CMDA works closely with the far-right Christian organization Focus on the Family, which promotes medically inaccurate views such as that abortion causes breast cancer....
As for CMDA's new snowflake program, it really only constitutes one-third of the $1 million HHS is devoting to the promotion of embryo adoption.
But "embryo adoption" itself is something of a controversy, and certainly, a waste of government money. Even by the figures of the National Embryo Adoption Center, if I calculate it right, the embryo "adoption" will only succeed for 8 percent of the frozen embryos. Best estimates are that there are only 12, maybe 16, successful embryo "adoptions" per year. (There is no formal reporting mechanism.)
Bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan called embryo adoption a sham
(U)sing terms like "adoption" encourages people to believe that frozen embryos are the equivalent of children. But they are not the same. In fact, infertile couples who want children can frequently make embryos but they cannot make embryos that become fetuses or babies.
The Bush administration and Congress know all these facts, but have nevertheless poured more than $1 million of taxpayer money into the Snowflakes program and others aimed at facilitating "embryo adoption."
In his state of the union speech, President Bush said "We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite."
Well, maybe he didn't invite this conflict, but he sure has encouraged it. The White House Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and Bush administration departments are pouring taxpayer money in flurries and storms, not mere snowflakes, to groups like CMDA that promote harshly ideological messages, discriminate against gays and lesbians, and front for the religious right.
I take it back, Mr. President. Your tru luv for the religious right is more than support -- it's a definite invitation to trouble that should be frozen and discarded as quickly as possible.
TruLuv: Faith-Based Embryos | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
TruLuv: Faith-Based Embryos | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)