Update on Life Issues - February 2021

The latest issue of Affinity's Social Issues Bulletin is out now. It is free to download, as are all previous editions. One of the articles is an update on bioethical matters from Dr John Ling:

Abortion

Plan C abortions

If Plan A is straightforward abortion of a confirmed pregnancy and Plan B is administration of the morning-after pill with its abortifacient mode of action, what is Plan C? It is an alleged new type of ‘contraception’ for women who do not want to know if they are pregnant or not. Called the Missed Period Pill (MPP), it is a uterine evacuation medication that induces bleeding, similar to a menstrual period. It would therefore terminate a pregnancy for nearly all pregnant women users. Its USP (unique selling point) is that it fills the gap between emergency ‘contraception’ and straightforward abortion. Moreover, users would not know whether or not they were pregnant. Hence, its advocates claim, it would avoid the burden of that knowledge and take away any stigma or shame associated with abortion. This is a ploy to introduce moral ambiguity.

Here is the real surprise. Missed Period Pill is a euphemism for abortifacient drugs or herbal concoctions. In fact, it turns out that Plan C could be that old combination of mifepristone, which blocks the effects of progesterone, the hormone without which the lining of the uterus begins to break down and thus prevents implantation and so the embryo or foetus dies, while the second drug, misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract and expel its contents, including the dead embryo or foetus if present.

The promotion of Plan C might seem a little archaic and weird, but at least it provided a research project for a team of women investigators. They surveyed women’s interest in the MPP across two US states. In all, of the 678 people surveyed, 42% indicated interest in MPPs. Interest was greatest (70%) among those who would be unhappy if pregnant. In other words, it would suit those who despite the ubiquity of home pregnancy testing kits, they would prefer not to know.

These somewhat humdrum results were reported in the journal Contraception under the title, ‘Exploring potential interest in missed period pills in two US states’ by Wendy Sheldon et al., (2020, 102: 414-420). The authors concluded that, ‘If missed period pills were available in the United States, demand might be substantial and wide-ranging across demographic groups.’

But let’s not overlook the fact that the first author of the study, Wendy Sheldon, is on the staff of Gynuity Health Projects, the ‘reproductive and maternal health’ group that partners with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from which funding for the study in Contraception came.

In short, the results may be regarded as both unnerving and also consoling. Unnerving, because some women do not apparently want to listen to and understand their own bodies, whether they are pregnant or not. Consoling, because some women are still unsure about the moral conflicts and rightness of abortion – it is not easily destigmatised. Perhaps, above all, the work demonstrates that extreme abortion activists in the reproductive rights movement are not entirely in tune with the rest of the sisterhood – a significant sensitive and diffident faction still exists.

Can abortion history be changed?

‘Pull down their statues’ is the modern cry. Architects of slavery must be erased from the streets and the history books. The names of various benefactors of universities and other public buildings must be expunged. Their dark histories will no longer be tolerated. History must be changed, it must be purified, or at least airbrushed. Support our cancel culture.

We all live and benefit from the exploits of both good and wicked men and women. A selective view of a deleted history serves no noble purpose. We must face the truth, both rough and smooth. Unmanipulated history teaches us valuable truths – read your Bible for explicit examples!

Try telling that to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion agency in the US and around the world. It has had to face the link between its founder, Margaret Sanger, and the modern eugenics movement. She campaigned for, ‘the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks – those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization’ as she so indelicately put it.

Then there is the very British Marie Stopes. Her name is associated with the British charity with 12,000 employees which claims to be ‘one of the world’s largest providers of high quality, affordable contraception and safe abortion services.’ Each year it helps around 5 million women procure an abortion. It has clinics in 37 countries around the world.

The problem is that Mrs Stopes, pioneer of birth control, was also an ardent devotee of eugenics, advocate of compulsory sterilisation, a devotee of eugenics, an enthusiast of social Darwinism and admirer of Adolf Hitler. How to bury that despicable history? Simple, in November 2020, they expunged her by renaming Marie Stopes International as MSI Reproductive Choices. It is called PR, public relations. Problem solved. Except that renaming or denaming is not the right way to address historical wrongs. After all, does abortion now have neither contemporary nor historic connections with eugenics? Hide the truth and you fool yourself.

IVF and ARTs

The 14-day rule

‘For the past 40 years, the 14-day rule has governed and, by defining a clear boundary, enabled embryo research and the clinical benefits derived from this. It has been both a piece of legislation and a rule of good practice globally.’ That is how Sophia McCully opened her article entitled, ‘The time has come to extend the 14-day rule’ in the Journal of Medical Ethics published online on 2 February 2021. She continues, ‘In this paper, I argue that the current limit for embryo research in vitro should be extended to 28 days to permit research that will illuminate our beginnings as well as provide new therapeutic possibilities to reduce miscarriage and developmental abnormalities.’

None of this is new. Since 1984, when the Warnock Committee cobbled together some arbitrary and specious arguments to recommend limiting human embryo research and destruction to an upper limit of 14 days, scientists have complained that it is too restrictive. On the other hand, many said it was too liberal. Eventually, the 14-day rule became part of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Now, as part of their case for extending the limit, proponents are even claiming that Warnock’s arguments were random and spurious. Well I never!

The current calls for change centre on scientists’ probable ability to culture human embryos beyond 14 days – a sort of ‘if we can, why not?’ reasoning. The popular bid is now for 28 days – just as arbitrary and compromising as Warnock’s original. But the hook is, 28 days would ‘permit research that will further explore our origins as well as potentially provide new therapeutic possibilities to reduce developmental abnormalities and miscarriage’ as McCully has written elsewhere In other words, it would allow exploration of the so-called ‘black box’ period of human development.

Will just one slice of pizza satisfy the hungry teenager? And so how long will 28 days satisfy? This is where robust bioethics should be at its best. Everyone knows that life is not a free for all – boundaries are needed for people and civilisations to thrive. Just as the limit of 24 weeks is not enough for abortionists, and transferring just two embryos is not enough for IVF practitioners, so 28 days would ultimately become inadequate. If the deliberate destruction of human life is to be avoided, then abortion and embryo experimentation should be illicit. The boundary should not be 14 or 28 days, it should be zero.

Expect a UK government consultation on the issue in five years’ time, maybe sooner.

A 27-year-old embryo is born

Mess with biology and that is the sort of strapline you get. Molly Gibson was conceived in 1992, transferred to a womb in February 2020 and born in October 2020. Accordingly, she has set a new world record for the longest-frozen embryo to result in a live birth.

Tina and Ben Gibson of Knoxville, Tennessee, struggled with infertility for nearly five years. They approached the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville. The NEDC is a Christian, non-profit organisation that stores ‘spare’ frozen embryos donated by IVF patients.

Families, like the Gibsons, can then ‘adopt’ a stored embryo and use IVF to maybe give birth to a child that is not genetically related to them. Both Molly’s and her sister Emma’s embryos were donated by the same couple and frozen simultaneously. Emma was born in 2017 and had held the previous record for 24 years as a frozen embryo.

After the whoops of delight caused by Molly’s birth had subsided, a serious issue arose. Currently, the UK has a ten-year storage limit for frozen human gametes and embryos as defined by the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. At the end of the storage period, the woman must decide whether to become a mother, or have her ova and/or embryos destroyed. An extension can only be granted for medical reasons and premature infertility.

Molly’s birth in the USA has sparked calls for this time limit to be scrapped in the UK. Sarah Norcross of Progress Educational Trust commented, ‘It’s time for the Government to change this arbitrary law which damages women’s chances of becoming biological mothers and limits their reproductive choices.’ That’s all very highfalutin jargon, but IVF is a bioethical and practical ‘can of worms’ and its legal boundaries are there for a reason.

The NEDC is one of several embryo adoption agencies in the USA. Like others it has a strong Christian ethos – its website states, ‘The NEDC firmly believes in the sanctity of life beginning at conception and recognizes marriage as a sacred union between man and woman as defined by scriptures of the Holy Bible.’ Since its inception in 2003, NEDC has assisted in over 1,000 births and received more than US$3.9 million in federal funding. But the concept and practice of embryo adoption poses thorny bioethical problems. For more details, read Chapter 3 and especially pages 94-95 of my 2014 Bioethical Issues book.

IVF and the stupid

Paris Hilton, the 39-year-old American heiress, media personality, businesswoman, socialite, model, singer, actress and DJ, wants a baby or two. More precisely, she wants a boy and a girl. So, as recommended by the famous Kim Kardashian, she is undergoing IVF treatment with her boyfriend, Carter Reum.

She wants to start the process now to ensure she could have ‘twins that are a boy and a girl’ since parents can, for an added cost, sex select which embryos they want to use. ‘I think it’s something most women should do just to have and then you can pick if you want boys or girls’, Ms Hilton added somewhat dimwittedly, and ‘The only way to 100% have that is by doing it that way.’

Apparently, many felt Hilton’s comments were ‘out of touch’ and insensitive to people struggling with infertility who cannot afford IVF, a procedure that can cost upwards of $12,000. A celebrity website, Insider, commented on some ethical problems associated with choosing the sex of IVF children. And, ‘In addition to being an expensive procedure many people in the US can’t afford, the idea of ‘picking’ a child’s gender before they are born may present some problems. Since a child could be transgender, and may not identify with the gender they are assigned at birth, no one truly knows what gender their child will be.’

If Paris Hilton thinks that IVF plus PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) will fulfil her baby dreams, she has yet to face some harsh realities. Sometimes I feel I don’t belong in this world.


Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide


Canada goes for broke

Here is a bioethical truth – open a permissive door a little and soon it will swing wide open. Here is proof from Canada. In June 2016, the Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allowed eligible Canadian adults to request ‘medical assistance in dying’ (MAiD). On 5 October 2020, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada introduced Bill C-7 with proposals for a major expansion of the country’s 2016 euthanasia laws. Critics say that the amendments will make Canada’s law the most permissive in the world.

Bill C-7 would give access to MAiD to people whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. It would also establish more relaxed eligibility rules for those who are near death, including a form of advance directives.

Critics insist that C-7 will change MAiD ‘from a procedure to facilitate dying into a terminal therapy for life’s suffering.’ In particular, the Bill would do away with a doctor’s traditional ‘standard of care’, which obliges ‘physicians to apply their skills and intricate knowledge to a patient’s particular clinical circumstances.’ Instead patient choice, effectively self-diagnosis, of ‘enduring and intolerable suffering’ would become the criterion for deciding whether or not he or she is eligible for MAiD and the prescription of the remedy, death.

It gets worse. On 17 February 2021, Senators overwhelmingly approved a revised version of Bill C-7 by a vote of 66-19, with three abstentions. In addition, Senators approved five amendments, two of which would expand access even more than the government proposed. One amendment would allow people who fear losing mental capacity to make advance requests for assisted death. The other would impose an 18-month time limit on the Bill’s proposed blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses. The revised Bill will now be sent back to the House of Commons for MPs to decide whether to accept or reject some or all of the amendments. The government wants the Bill passed by 26 February.

Parliamentary critics have expressed alarm at the haste with which the Canadian law is changing. But that is what happens with bad laws – they become slippery slopes. Consider the figures from Ontario, Canada’s largest province. In 2020, there were 2,378 cases of MAiD, up from 1,789 the previous year, 1,499 in 2018, 841 in 2017 and 189 in 2016. Is that not a slippery slope?


Palliative care provision

Oh, for something life-affirming and positive! Here it is. The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched the UK’s provision of palliative care. According to researchers from Cicely Saunders International, the predicted capacity of about 0.5 million people in England and Wales needing such care by 2040 has already been reached.

Their 2020 Report, which makes an urgent call for reforms to the UK’s palliative care system, is entitled, You matter because you are you: an action plan for better palliative care. It asserts that too many people who had life-limiting illnesses, or were approaching death, were spending unnecessarily long periods in hospital without being offered alternatives, when most would prefer to die at home. Around 80% of people would prefer to die at home, or in their place of residence, but in some parts of England and Wales less than 50% do so.

To help meet people’s needs the authors call for face-to-face care, including symptom management, seven days a week access to hospitals, as well as 24/7 support and advice in the community. Prompt access to therapeutic, nursing, and pharmacy services to support people in their homes are also needed. Other recommendations in the Report’s seven-point action plan include increased investment in social and community care services, a strategic approach to training, and a system of continuous learning and improvement. And it draws attention to a government-commissioned review, which estimated that £150m is needed to provide a ‘national choice offer’ to patients and carers for end-of-life care.

Irene Higginson, scientific director at Cicely Saunders International, commented, ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that, when the demand for health and social care services goes up, the provision of palliative care falls short. It’s vital that we learn from this experience and implement the changes necessary to secure high quality palliative care for all patients.’

And Kathryn Mannix, a palliative care physician, said, ‘Access to support for wellbeing, person-centred care, and excellent symptom management should be seen as a human right throughout life. It is time to recognise that people approaching death have the same rights and to fund the services that will allow them to live well for the remainder of their lives.’ Could all that not be a positive outcome from the Covid-19 pandemic?

Genetic Technologies


Anti-CRISPRs

In the last decade, the world of experimental biology has been transformed by the discovery and application of the CRISPR-Cas gene-editing procedure. Simply by changing a little of an organism’s genetic code, it has been successfully applied to curing human diseases as well as improving crops and livestock.

But sometimes a good thing needs controlling, even stopping. What if gene-editing cannot be halted, could it have disastrous consequences? What we need is an off-switch, an anti-CRISPR mechanism. And several have recently been discovered.

When bacteria are invaded by viruses the latter are susceptible to the bacterial CRISPR-Cas defence system. But sometimes the invading viruses survived. How come? It turns out that viral genes were somehow capable of shutting down the CRISPR-Cas system so the bacteria became susceptible. Anti-CRISPRs were realised. Now more than 50 anti-CRISPR proteins have been characterised.

Scientists now have a toolkit for keeping gene-editing in check. But it is early days. As Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneers of CRISPR gene-editing, has asked, ‘How do you actually use these in a way that will provide meaningful control?’

Here is one such example of progress. In 2017, biologists at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China deciphered the molecular mechanism by which one anti-CRISPR protein, called AcrIIA4, can shut off Cas9 activity. A few months later, Doudna and colleagues, demonstrated that anti-CRISPRs have practical value. They showed that delivering AcrIIA4 into human cells could not only halt gene-editing activity, but also limit those dreaded ‘off-target’ effects of gene-editing. That was back in 2017. [Dong et al., Nature, 2017, 546: 436–439. Shin et al., Science Advances, 2017, 12 July].

Two years later in 2019, a US team, led by Erik Sontheimer, at the RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, demonstrated that the approach can work in mice – so far the only demonstration that anti-CRISPR proteins can work in a living animal, and not just cells.

Sontheimer and his colleagues wanted to allow editing in the liver while suppressing it in all other tissues of the mouse. So they designed an anti-CRISPR protein that would be active everywhere except in the presence of microRNA-122, which is found only in the liver. In the mice, the anti-CRISPR successfully blocked Cas9 editing throughout the body, except in that one organ. [Lee et al., RNA, 2019, 25: 1421-1431].

This is remarkable, even exciting, progress. CRISPR-Cas9 and the other techniques of gene-editing have proved to be revolutionary. Now to have a start-stop control mechanism of the system is phenomenal. Biology will never be the same.

Brains in a dish

Where are the bioethical boundaries of human genetic technologies? We already have genetically-engineered babies, three-parent human embryos and novel family combinations. Now consider this – human brains in a dish, created from stem cells.

Not only is that physical prospect unnerving, but could these clumps of cells, these disembodied brain organoids, become conscious? Electrical activity in these structures has already been reported. A review article by Sara Reardon in Nature (2020, 27 October) entitled, ‘Can lab-grown brains become conscious?’ included this statement, ‘The studies have set the stage for a debate between those who want to avoid the creation of consciousness and those who see complex organoids as a means to study devastating human diseases. [Alysson] Muotri and many other neuroscientists think that human brain organoids could be the key to understanding uniquely human conditions such as autism and schizophrenia, which are impossible to study in detail in mouse models. To achieve this goal, Muotri says, he and others might need to deliberately create consciousness.’

Where are the boundaries? So far, they have been little more than voluntary guidelines. And, after all, what is unethical – what does that mean? It is easy to be soothed by talk of ‘essential research’ and prospects of overcoming serious diseases. Should we not be appalled by these trends? Is human dignity at stake?

Alysson Muotri, a world leader in this field at the University of California, San Diego, remains indifferent. As Reardon states, ‘For his part, Muotri sees little difference between working on a human organoid or a lab mouse. “We work with animal models that are conscious and there are no problems,” he says. “We need to move forward and if it turns out they become conscious, to be honest I don’t see it as a big deal.”‘

Not everything about genetic technology is wonderful.

Stem-cell Technologies

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

The election of the President of the United States was not the only question on recent US ballot papers – in California on 3 November, Proposition 14, the Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative (Prop 14), was on the ticket too. This ballot initiative would allow CIRM to borrow US$5.5 billion in the form of bonds. Californian taxpayers would have to repay this sum with interest over the next 30 years. Prop 14 divided the residents of the Sunshine State, but on the day it sneaked passed by 51% to 49%.

CIRM was opened in 2004 with typical West Coast zest and zeal and with an allocation of $3 billion funding. It was controversial for many reasons including its major intent of destroying human embryos to create embryonic stem cells. But its record has been mixed. True, CIRM research has led to two approved cancer drugs and a host of prospective therapies, but the promised ground-breaking stem-cell cures and therapies have been wanting. More than half the original funding went on buildings and other infrastructure, education and training.

By 2019 the CIRM was running out of money and it suspended applications for new research projects. It had also been dogged by a string of political and bureaucratic wrangles. Nowadays California is suffering from huge budget deficits, a largely uncontrolled Covid-19 pandemic as well as housing and unemployment crises. This time round taxpayers, investors and scientists will be keen to see some solid returns from their US$5.5 billion venture. If CIRM still insists on funding major embryonic and fetal stem-cell research projects, they will probably be very disappointed. Adult stem-cell therapeutics have already won the day.

Miscellaneous


Updating the Hippocratic Oath

It was the Hippocratic Oath together with the Judaeo-Christian doctrines that created wholesome human medicine and guarded it for over 2,000 years. The Oath has often been tinkered with and inevitably watered down. Some examples are given on pages 24-25 of my 2014 book, Bioethical Issues. Now comes the newest revision from first-year medical students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. It is a thin affair.

The traditional Oath is concerned with the big and bold topics of bioethics, such as abortion, conscience, euthanasia, confidentiality and sexual abuse. This new version instead champions diversity in medicine and society, being a friend to the poor and marginalised, and restoring trust in the healthcare community.

Here are extracts from the new and the old. Can you guess which is which? ‘I will be an ally to those of low socioeconomic status, the BIPOC community, the LGBTQIA+ community, womxn/women, differently-abled individuals and other underserved groups in order to dismantle the systemic racism and prejudice that medical professionals and society have perpetuated.’ And ‘I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.’

Thankfully, the medical students took the traditional Oath as well as their new-fangled rendering. Such novelties as students creating their own versions suggest that medical ethics and medical practice are flimsy, fashionable issues rather than those built on robust, historic foundations.

Bioethics and the Covid-19 pandemic

In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) arranged a meeting in Geneva to discuss the pandemic. During the two-day gathering, some ethical principles were considered. These were published under the title, ‘Key Ethical Concepts and Their Application to COVID-19 Research’ by Dawson et al., in Public Health Ethics, 2020, 13: 127-132.

Bioethical principles are typically summarised under four headings, namely, autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice, as devised by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in their famous 1985 textbook, Principles of Biomedical Ethics. The new Genevan principles are quite different, moving away from autonomy towards community and the common good. Here, according to Michael Cook of BioEdge, is a summary of the new six:

Solidarity. ‘The practice of standing up together and acting in common.’ ‘Just as infection spreads through connection, our ethical response requires us to act together to ensure recognition of our common nature, needs and value.’

Equal Moral Respect. ‘There can be no room for disagreement regarding the equal moral respect that is owed to every individual. In short, equal moral respect serves as a fundamental precondition for fair and equitable treatment.’

Equity. ‘Treating people equitably means treating like cases alike, e.g. treating people in accordance with their unique needs.’

Autonomy. ‘An autonomous individual is able to control what happens to their bodies and lives. Autonomous people may also forego making choices.’

Vulnerability. ‘Its core ethical function is to mark out the need for additional ethical consideration, or heightened ethical scrutiny in the context of research towards the risks and threats faced by a person or group regarded as potentially vulnerable.’

Trust. ‘During public health emergencies, such as COVID-19, action is required to ensure the maintenance of trustworthiness in those given responsibility for the response.’

USA and Elsewhere


President Trump’s pro-life legacy

Whatever you think of the man, it cannot be denied that Donald Trump’s four years as President of the USA were marked by major pro-life gains. There are, according to Katey Price of the Lozier Institute, at least four:

1] Mexico City policy. This programme, begun under the Reagan Administration, bars taxpayer funding for organisations that provide abortion or involuntary sterilisation overseas. Its renewal was the first pro-life action of the Trump administration in 2017.

2] Title X of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). In 2018, the Trump administration supported rules affecting Title X family planning programs, which impact low-income and uninsured Americans, specifically women and girls. Title X grantees receiving federal funding could no longer provide or refer for abortions.

3] Appointing judicial nominees. As well as appointing over 200 judges across the country, Tump appointed three to the Supreme Court. They were Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. These are considered to be pro-life and could affect any consideration of Roe vs. Wade.

4] Recent pro-life actions. In 2020, the Trump administration took action to protect individuals with disabilities. In his last week of office the President issued a draft rule to protect infants born alive with disabilities.

Joe Biden, though a declared Roman Catholic, is also an ardent pro-abortionist. With his inauguration as the 46th President of the USA, it is expected that his administration will seek to repeal many of the pro-life gains of Trump’s time in office. For example, on 28 January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order revoking the Mexico City policy. He has also called for a review of the Title X rule. And he wants to dismantle Trump’s proposals that would have cut taxpayer’s funding of Planned Parenthood by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perhaps the one enduring bright spot of the Trump legacy is that the balance of the Supreme Court now appears to be decidedly pro-life. Local and federal laws and regulations imposing the Biden’s administration’s extreme policies on abortion may yet be struck down.

The March for Life 2021

Every year, on 22 January, pro-life Americans commemorate the day that Roe vs. Wade legalised US abortion 48 years ago, by joining in the March for Life. The event has always centred on Washington DC, but this year it had to go virtual on 29 January.

This year one of the keynote speakers was former NFL star Tim Tebow. He encouraged pro-lifers not to lose hope or give up the fight but to continue advocating for life at all stages, born and unborn. He continued, ‘You know, I’ve given so much of my life for sports … but that’s for trophies that rust …’ ‘But you see, being passionate about Jesus … and passionate about those that have been thrown away and neglected and forgotten? That is worthy.’ ‘You see, when you’re pro-life, I believe that we’re called to be pro-life in every area – for the unborn, for the hurting, for the orphan, for the thrown-away, for the special needs, for the trafficked, for all of humanity.’ He encouraged pro-lifers to always be pro-life, ‘… all the time, everywhere, no matter what.’

Is the USA pro-life?

The group, Students for Life of America, recently released results of a poll conducted during January 2021 among 800 registered voters aged 18 to 34, namely Millennials and Gen Z.

Asked about reversing Roe vs. Wade, returning the issue of abortion to the individual states, most Millennials and Gen Z supported the proposal by a margin of 44 % in favour to 36 % opposed with 18 % unsure. These first two figures changed to 57 % and 30 % when respondents learned that Roe vs. Wade allows for abortion through all 9 months. In addition, almost half (47%) of those questioned supported banning abortion after a heartbeat was detected.

Also in January, a new nationwide poll, conducted by Marist College, found that a majority of all-aged Americans are pro-life and opposed to all or virtually all abortions that take place in America today. For example, 51% of Americans self-identified as pro-life. Legal limits on abortion were supported by 76% of those polled, while 77% opposed taxpayer funding of abortions. And only 19% of Americans either ‘support’ or ‘strongly support’ funding abortions outside the US.

These findings are significant because they are contrary to President Biden’s and Planned Parenthood’s position that abortion should be freely available at any time during a pregnancy, either in the US, or anywhere else.

John Ling is a freelance speaker, writer and consultant bioethicist. He is the author of three books on bioethical issues. He regularly updates his personal website.

(A fuller version of John’s regular update of bioethical news and views can be found at www.johnling.co.uk)

(This article was originally published in the Affinity Social Issues Bulletin for February 2021. The whole edition can be found at www.affinity.org.uk)

Image: "File:Ivf.png" by DrKontogianniIVF is marked with CC0 1.0


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