War on Iran talk ‘blus­ter,’ Obama tells pro-is­rael PAC

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY DAVE BOYER

Com­mit­tee (AI­PAC) con­fer­ence in Washington. “Now is the time to let our in­creased pres­sure sink in and to sus­tain the broad in­ter­na­tional coali­tion that we have built.”

While there is ris­ing spec­u­la­tion that Is­rael will take uni­lat­eral mil­i­tary ac­tion against Ira­nian fa­cil­i­ties, Mr. Obama said, he prefers for the time be­ing to heed the ad­vice of for­mer Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt: Speak softly and carry a big stick.

“I would ask that we all re­mem­ber the weight­i­ness of these is­sues, the

I didn’t know that was even pos­si­ble,’” said Ron Stod­dart, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Night­light Chris­tian Adop­tions, which in 1997 pi­o­neered the process of in­fer­tile cou­ples “adopt­ing” the ex­tra em­bryos that an­other cou­ple’s in-vitro fer­til­iza­tion process in­evitably pro­duces.

Han­nah Strege, the first of these frozen, unique “snowflake” ba­bies, was born in De­cem­ber 1998. Re­searchers think as many as 50,000 of the 600,000 cryo­geni­cally pre­served em­bryos in the U.S. even­tu­ally could be­come avail­able for adop­tion.

The fate of the em­bryo-adop­tion aware­ness pro­gram is not known. As with all White House bud­get re­quests, con­gres­sional ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tees will de­cide whether they be­come law.

Ap­pli­cant pools

The HHS re­port said the rea­son to end the $1.9 mil­lion em­bryo-adop­tion aware­ness pro­gram is “limited in­ter­est.” Only a “very small pool of ap­pli­cants, many of whom are re­peat re­cip­i­ents,” are seek­ing the grants, it said.

Mailee Smith, staff coun­sel at Amer­i­cans United for Life, said such a decision is more ev­i­dence of “the pro-abor­tion slant of this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“Why would the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion cut $2 mil­lion for adop­tion aware­ness, but keep $1 mil­lion a day for Planned Par­ent­hood?” she asked.

Also, hav­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of frozen hu­man em­bryos in stor­age “is a dev­as­tat­ing sit­u­a­tion” for many peo­ple, Ms. Smith said.

“What peo­ple dis­agree about is the so­lu­tion for these em­bryos,” she said, and if there is no sup­port for em­bryo adop­tion, “what we’re see­ing is the elim­i­na­tion of the moral so­lu­tion.”

Bar­bara Collura, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Re­solve: The Na­tional In­fer­til­ity As­so­ci­a­tion, said she thinks the $23 mil­lion Congress al­ready has spent on em­bryoad­op­tion aware­ness has “done the trick.”

“To be hon­est, it doesn’t sur­prise me at all” to see the pro­gram de­funded, said Ms. Collura, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion won more than $2 mil­lion in em­bryo-adop­tion aware­ness funds.

The fund­ing cer­tainly “made a dif­fer­ence in terms of peo­ple’s aware­ness about this fam­ily-build­ing op­tion,” and yet it serves a rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion, she said. “We have too many peo­ple who don’t know enough about” in­fer­til­ity, and “we would like to see more fund­ing in gen­eral” for that.

Vi­able op­tion

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cen­ter for Health Sta­tis­tics, 7.3 mil­lion women of child­bear­ing age, or nearly 12 per­cent, have “im­paired fe­cun­dity.” Male in­fer­til­ity is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue, too, as about 17 per­cent of in­fer­til­ity is linked to the “male fac­tor,” Ms. Collura said.

An em­bryo do­na­tion and adop­tion pro­gram is “a proven strat­egy” to help cou­ples achieve par­ent­hood, said Dr. Jef­frey Keenan, med­i­cal di­rec­tor at the Na­tional Em­bryo Do­na­tion Cen­ter in Knoxville, Tenn., which has won $3.5 mil­lion in fed­eral grants.

It also opens a door for cou­ples with ex­tra em­bryos who have moral ob­jec­tions to de­stroy­ing them, ei­ther by dis­card­ing them or giv­ing them to re­searchers, said Dr. Keenan, adding that the cen­ter has 150 “sets” of frozen em­bryos in stor­age, with up to 15 em­bryos in each set, wait­ing for adop­tive par­ents.

Be­tween 2004 and 2009 alone, about 1,900 in­fants were born from the adop­tion process in the U.S., said Dr. Reg Fin­ger, di­rec­tor of the Em­bryo Do­na­tion Ser­vices Cen­ter, which also was cre­ated with fed­eral grant fund­ing.

Em­bryo adop­tion “gave me a 40 per­cent chance to have a baby, af­ter be­ing told there was a 1 [per­cent] to 2 per­cent chance of ever hav­ing a child,” said Les­lie War­ren, an Alabama so­cial ser­vices worker whose 15-month-old son is one of nearly 400 ba­bies born at the cen­ter.

If there’s no aware­ness pro­gram, “who is go­ing to ad­vo­cate for these em­bryos?” asked Jen­nifer Wright, a Phoenix-area mother who writes a “Snowflake Fam­ily” blog about her and her hus­band’s 1-year-old son.

Adopt­ing par­ents might be able to find out about em­bryo adop­tion, but the ge­netic par­ents might con­tinue to think that their “only choices” are to use their em­bryos or de­stroy them, Mrs. Wright said.

“If you are not in­volved” in an in­fer­til­ity sit­u­a­tion, “you have no idea of the need” for em­bryo adop­tion, said Marti Bai­ley, who has twins from em­bryo adop­tion and talked about the process with adop­tion lawyers, coun­selors, clin­ics and adop­tion agen­cies when she worked with the do­na­tion cen­ter sev­eral years ago.

Stem-cell re­search

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has funded em­bryo-adop­tion aware­ness since 2002 in re­sponse to the furor over stem-cell re­search, which de­stroys the em­bryos in the process of culling them for the stem cells.

Pres­i­dent Bush stead­fastly ve­toed leg­is­la­tion open­ing up fed­eral fund­ing for re­search on new stem-cell lines and in­stead touted em­bryo adop­tion as a choice for cou­ples with “ex­tra” frozen em­bryos.

“The chil­dren here to­day re­mind us that there is no such thing as a spare em­bryo,” Mr. Bush said at a 2005 White House event with “snowflake” chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

“These lives are not raw ma­te­rial to be ex­ploited, but gifts,” he said point­edly.

But in March 2009, Pres­i­dent Obama au­tho­rized more fund­ing for em­bry­onic stem-cell re­search, and fed­eral guide­lines now let cou­ples do­nate un­wanted frozen em­bryos to such re­searchers with the pro­viso that they can­not re­ceive cash, ser­vices or spe­cial treat­ment in ex­change for their do­na­tions.

Mr. Stod­dart, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion uses fed­eral funds to run em­bryoad­op­tion.org, said there are sev­eral rea­sons to con­tinue the fund­ing.

The num­ber of hu­man em­bryos in stor­age is still in­creas­ing, as are the num­ber of ba­bies born from em­bryo adop­tion, he said, not­ing that his agency’s own Snowflakes Em­bryo Adop­tion pro­gram is ex­pect­ing its 300th child to be born March 30.

The num­ber of adop­tion agen­cies open­ing em­bryo-adop­tion pro­grams also is in­creas­ing, said Mr. Stod­dart. “So those three fac­tors would clearly in­di­cate to me, and I think, any ob­jec­tive ob­server, that there’s an in­creas­ing in­ter­est in em­bryo do­na­tion and adop­tion.”

But, ex­cept for the fed­eral pro­gram, “there is no other source of fund­ing for an aware­ness cam­paign,” he said.


CON­DEM­NA­TION: “Iran is an evil, cruel, morally cor­rupt regime,” Is­raeli Pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres says at the open­ing ses­sion of the Amer­i­can Is­rael Public Af­fairs Com­mit­tee’s an­nual pol­icy con­fer­ence in Washington on Sun­day. He says Is­rael will not al­low Iran to de­velop a nu­clear weapon. Story, A11.

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