Sunday, April 29, 2007

A disciple's complaint.

More Steve Silvia. Love this guy!

Chaire, Kecharitomene Full of Grace

In one of those acts of serendipity that renew one's faith in one's fellow human beings, I stumbled across Steve Silvia's videos on YouTube.

I like his tagline: "Sharing my Catholic Faith. 'Preach the Gospel at all times...if necessary use videos.'"

Friday, April 20, 2007

"White embryos, good for babies; black embryos: perfect for cures!"*

Here's a new twist on the stereotype of the "good Negro" who sacrifices herself for the good of the rest of us. I don't mind a Christ-figure with dark skin if the sacrifice is intentional. But if it's not...

I wrote this as a longer Op-ed piece rather than a letter to the editor. I intend to release it to all the press venues I can think of, local and national. I will also snail mail it to our representatives, who at the last SB5 hearing exhibited ostrich-like behavior when alerted to this new wrinkle to the discussion. I am convinced that within a year, the feminist and minority communities will understand and be on board with the health issue of exponentially multiplying the number of instances of hyperovulation that will be necessary for SCNT. Meanwhile, let's fight the local bills and do all we can to bring people of good will to this realization before it is too late.

If Senate Bill 5 is passed in Delaware, what population of young women will bear the burden of providing eggs for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)? Is Delaware willing to mine the bodies of its poorest female citizens in order to get on the SCNT bandwagon in pursuit of tenuous, highly speculative cures?

Senate Bill 5 allows for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Most Delawareans by now are aware that SCNT creates a cloned human embryo that will be killed and stripped of its cells at the 5 th to 7th day of development (the blastocyst stage). Pro-cloning folks are content to sacrifice nascent human life in exchange for the possibility of cures for disease. But do even they understand the second reality of somatic cell nuclear transfer? Every instance of somatic cell nuclear transfer requires a human egg to be extracted from a young, fertile woman. To produce the thousands of cloned embryos needed for research, scientists will need thousands of young women to undergo the same complex, painful and risky procedure of egg extraction that IVF patients undergo.

On International Women's Day this year in March, an unlikely coalition of pro-choice and pro-life folks came together to hold a symposium on the implications for women's health and welfare of widespread egg extraction for somatic cell nuclear transfer. A You Tube video "Trading on the Female Body" ( ) summarizes that symposium. One of its most powerful testimonies comes from a woman whose daughter died from Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) while undergoing egg extraction as an IVF patient. What will happen when ovarian hyperstimulation moves beyond the confined population of women who undergo the procedure in hope of having a child to the wider population of women who endure the ordeal from economic necessity? Where will scientists obtain the eggs for SCNT?

IVF clinics regularly recruit egg donors from college campuses like University of Delaware because eggs from young, fertile, white women are what the mostly-white, mostly well-educated, mostly middle-to-upper class women who can afford IVF desire. "If you're trying to get a white middle class baby , you don't recruit egg donors from the ghetto."*

But somatic cell nuclear transfer, unlike IVF, has no requirements for egg donors other than that they be young, fertile and willing to undergo hyperstimulation. With IVF, a woman can earn $5000 a pop for donor egg extraction. Most childless couples able to finance IVF are white, and are willing to pay well for babies that are white also . Young women look at their $5000 "stipend" and figure that's a good trade-off for the risk of OHSS and the danger to future fertility.

It is doubtful, though, that experimental scientists will likewise pay $5000 a try to get donor eggs, especially when the SCNT embryo will be killed at 5-7 days. So where will researchers find a population of young women happy to donate eggs at a cut-rate price? People on both sides of the issue believe that poor and minority women will be a much-desired target population for the harvesting of eggs. Poverty lowers the threshold for what it takes to sell a precious resource. That's why paid blood donors are generally from the poorer populations.

If you need thousands of eggs to use and then quickly dispose of, and you don't want to pay top dollar because you don't have desperate, wealthy couples, you only have scarce research money, where will you court egg donors? Are you going to go to Hockessin, to Westover Hills? No. It's a no-brainer. You will look for egg donors among the young women who are poorest, most vulnerable, and most willing to undergo the procedure, no questions asked. You will target districts like Hazel Plant's (district 2), not Pam Maier's (district 21) or Debbie Hudson's (district 12).

Are Representatives Hudson and Maier, both of whom are co-sponsors of SB5, sensitive to that fact? Does Representative Plant, who is not a sponsor of the bill but appears to have jumped on the SCNT bandwagon, know what SB5 could bring to her district? If I were any of these three women I would look long and hard at the implications, for women's health in Delaware, of widespread somatic cell nuclear transfer.

So, go to You Tube. L ook at that video made by that unlikely and remarkable coalition of pro-choice and pro-life voices on International Women's Day. Then ask yourselves these questions again: If Senate Bill 5 is passed in Delaware, what population of young women will bear the burden of providing eggs for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)? Is Delaware willing to mine the bodies of its poorest female citizens in order to get on the SCNT bandwagon in pursuit of tenuous, highly speculative cures?
*For the hyperbole-impaired, these statements do not reflect my views but my personification of the unspoken socioeconomic realities of IVF and SCNT.

Concerned? If it happens in Delaware, it can happen in your state. Consider contacting Delaware Representatives Deborah Hudson (, Delaware Senator Robert Venables (, or Delaware Representative Pam Maier (>) -- all sponsors of SB5 in Delaware --to voice your concerns.

Another favorite raepoem

Oh, and this one. I love it mostly because it sprang from an inconsequential break room conversation at work. Do men have any idea how much time the female of the species spends analyzing their actions? My husband discovered this with a shock the eight months he spent in a hospital a decade and a half ago. He developed a great respect and admiration for nurses, who bear the brunt of the work in patient care and comfort. But he was amazed to discover that the nurses, most of whom were female, day in and night out discussed husbands, boyfriends, suitors, and relationships. Any woman coulda told him...


This day awoke in sheets of rain --
May morning drenching -- like time before and time again
but bud new.
The head upon the blanket moved in startled praise
for absence of complicity
in damage.

Catherine spoke directly to me.
Through the young, self-involved windows
of her eyes I saw a woman kneeling nearly shadowed
by the flowers she was picking, hair done up in bun to match
her loose romantic dress, greens trailing her basket
from untrimmed wildflowers she would later cull.

Catherine's voice was confident.
Each proud detail of her story spoke of teasing
girl entitlement. Her face a shining testament
to beauty's self-excuse.
"I told him that I knew that he was innocent but still
I had to punish him to make my point."

The woman in the shadows offered gesture
of untangling thick brown tresses of woman foliage
and fastening mother of pearl to Catherine's upswept crown of hair
but shhhhh, shhhhh, -- the woman in her violet eyes blinks out of sight
and royal Catherine longs to flick her whip again.

middle night musings

I was ego-surfing in the wee hours of the night, googling "rae stabosz" to see my name in print all over the Internet. I find it fascinating to run across pieces I have written with such passion and have totally and completely forgotten about.

I found some poems of mine from my rec.arts.poems days that I'd forgotten, and discovered a gratifying discussion from August 2006 of one of my poems, with a reference (a writer's dream) to 1990 being "the year of Rae on r.a.p"

Poetically, this one is kind of mundane but I laughed when I came across it again. This is as close as I've come to trying to justify my embarrassing preference of genre fiction over good literature.

I never can finish a non-fiction book

I don't read good fiction;
I don't want to linger over language
when romance and plot propel me to conclusion;
quick reads are my forte
in the Novel

Ah but the slow rich colors
of non-fiction!
(and there is only one category
of the form)
Every thread stitched carefully to
blend brocade, linen and trim
to royal weighty glide of cloth;
Theology is the dress of queens
and the empress's new clothes;
I finger each square inch of cloth
but will never close the final hook

I never can finish a non-fiction book.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A great, big, belly laugh

I saw a news headline titled "Doctors Denounce High Court Ruling" that I just had to click on. I hadn't read any other actual news reports of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling and had kept abreast of things just reading the headlines. But this one intrigued me -- I was cynically amused by the Call to White-Coated Authority implied in that amorphous subject "Doctors" (Which doctors? How many? What political side do they take on abortion?)

But I broke out in a downright belly laugh when I read the first three paragraphs of the news article:
The controversial abortion procedure outlawed Wednesday by the Supreme Court is rarely performed but may offer distinct advantages over other second-trimester abortion methods, Bay Area doctors said Wednesday.

The point, doctors said, is it should be up to medical professionals to decide what's safest for their patients.

"There are medical situations where this procedure is necessary to protect a woman's health," said Dr. Anne Foster-Rosales, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. (italics added - Rae) "This ruling tells us that women's health is no longer the priority."
Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, you may recall, gave us that delightfully violent cartoon "Superhero for Choice" featuring a costumed avenger blowing the heads off of pro-life picketers with a condom gun. (You won't find this on their site anymore. They removed it shortly after it appeared.)

Yes, this is the same group who now hopes to be the first Planned Parenthood affiliate to get 5000 YouTube hits on an ad that in the words of its producer, "challenges popular conceptions of religion and sexuality". Yes indeed, it is quite a bold challenge. In the words of the Planned Parenthood press release:
The thirty second spot features a hip, young couple that is saved from engaging in unprotected sex by divine intervention.
Wow, so the Holy Spirit wants to help kids fornicate? Who knew??

You can see why the belly laugh. Oh yes, Dr. Foster-Rosales is certainly the keen-eyed, objective professional I would go to for a quote on the effect of ending a practice that butchers, without anaesthetic, a nearly full-term infant after allowing it to partially complete the birth process. No incredibility there, no, none at all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Schizophrenia rears its horrific head?

This is the saddest suggestion yet I've seen out of the Virginia Tech tragedy:
Posted By: Les Feldman (4/17/2007 at 8:12:59 PM)

Comment: The fact that Cho's parents are dry cleaners probably is a important factor in understanding what was wrong with him. In a study published by one of the finest researchers there is, Dr. Dolores Malaspina it was found that the offspring of dry cleaners had a tremendously high rate of schizophrenia compared to the offspring of other type of workers. PERC or its equivilant is a potent neurotoxin. It might have damaged Cho in a number of ways. Ask Dr. Malaspina the head of the dept of psychiatry at NYU.

Sure enough, if you go to that NCBI website, you see an abstract for an article titled Tetrachloroethylene exposure and risk of schizophrenia: offspring of dry cleaners in a population birth cohort, preliminary findings.

How very, very awful if the young man was schizophrenic because his parents pursued the American dream by going into a traditional Asian-in-America profession.

Trading on the Female Body

From International Women's Day 2007 comes this video made by pro-choice and pro-life women joined in an unlikely alliance to warn about the dangers of ovarian hyperstimulation.

Watch it and remember: EVERY act of somatic cell nuclear transfer (aka "research cloning") requires an egg from a fertile young women whose uterus has been hyperstimulated to undergo exactly what women who want to be mothers undergo in IVF. But while IVF is relatively confined in numbers, research cloning will involve hundreds of thousands of acts of somatic cell nuclear transfer. Each one of them requires an egg.

Hands Off Our Ovaries urges everyone, whatever their abortion politics might be, to join in calling for a moratorium on egg extraction for research purposes until the impact on public health of assembly-line egg extraction of thousands of young women can be assessed.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Calling Catholics to a new politics

The political debate on human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR) has turned ugly in Delaware. As our state legislature gets ready to vote on SB5, a bill that will bring destructive hESCR to Delaware as well as allow "cloning to kill", ie. human cloning for research purposes, I am trying to keep my head above waters dealing with an opposition which seems irrational and angry. That stirs up my own anger. I don't like being called a liar because I have a different interpretation of bioethics than you.

In my estimation, what has happened is a full-blown demonstration of what I have seen elsewhere -- that the folks who espouse peace, respect for diversity, and separation of church and state cannot tolerate Christian thought.

They refuse to see us as human beings, and marginalize us as fanatics and anti-science fundamentalists. They seem to honestly believe this, too. Hatred and self-righteousness has made them irrational. I understand this, because I am tempted to indulge those vices myself.

John Carr spoke at a recent Theology on Tap in Wilmington. He is director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Social Development and World Peace department. He spoke of the church's social mission to participate in the political arena beyond simply voting.

Some things that I liked from the news report of his talk:

Perhaps the most countercultural aspect of Catholic teaching today "is not that all life is precious, or that war ought to be a last resort, or that the poor ought to come first... The most countercultural thing our church teaches may be that politics is a good thing. We're in an age of cynicism, and we are disenchanted with political life.

Nevertheless, our faith says that responsible citizenship is a virtue and that participation in public life is an obligation: it is an integral part of being a Catholic believer."
The nation's bishops are proposing a new kind of politics, that is "focused more on moral principle than the latest polls, more on the needs of the weak than the contributions of the strong, and more on the search for the common good rather than the advance of special interests." [note from Rae: this doesn't sound new, but classic]

How to accomplish such a debate faces a number of challenges. Among them:

A better understanding about the separation between church and state. "The First Amendment protects our right to participate in public life and to bring what we believe into the public square. When people talk about the wall of separation, I think what they are really trying to do is to dilute our voices."

Individual Catholics must learn how to "integrate our faith and politics into the rest of our lives. We have to practice what the bishops call ' everyday Christianity,' where our faith is not a weekend obligation but touches everything we do every day of the week."

Catholics active in one issue must learn "to allow other people who have the same principles that we do, the same truth, to apply those principles in a conscientious way and come to a different tactical decision."

"We are in this together. We can divide up the work (for life from conception to natural death, for peace, for better health care and housing) but we cannot divide up the church. What unites us is our faith."
"The best place to understand the strength and direction of the church's social mission is not on Capitol Hill, it's not in the food pantry although we belong there, and it's not even in Theology on Tap although it's good to be here. The best place to discover the strength and direction of the church's social mission is gathered around the altar in Eucharist, the most social sacrament. It's where we get the strength to go forth and be the leaven, the salt and the light of the world.

Without prayer, this all just becomes activism for its own sake, and it burns out."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Welcome, welcome to my newest grandbaby.

"She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. "
- Proverbs 3:15

This gossamer figure, captured by a cell phone camera, is my beautiful new grandbaby Amelia Thyme Norton. She came into the world in Birmingham, Alabama, on Good Friday in the evening. Her mother Gabriel and her father David are overjoyed, as are we all at the Stabosz household. No word yet on how big brother Zeke has reacted.

It's exciting to have a girl grandbaby after three boys! It's been 9 years since granddaughter Ruth was born.

images of Resurrection, circa Stabosz-Danyo household 2007

From my grandson Owen's Care Pages, my daughter Reetie writes:
25 April 09, 2007 at 10:55 PM EDT

Owen walks! His balance is very good and rapidly improving. It has almost become his main mode of travel. He no longer needs to pull himself to standing. He is very proud of his achievements, walking back and forth, yet teetering on the brink of falling, and falling so well that we barely need to spot him except near the steps.

The P-T has one more goal with him before she's done: walking up and down steps unassisted. The psychologists and developmental pediatritions at CHOP agreed that Owen is "right where a 13-month-old ought to be" cognitively and developmentally.

We visited Dr. Evans, Owen's noenatologist from yesteryear. She was very happy with all that she had heard and with the little boy, aware and vibrant, she saw looking back at her. She said that she had never seen such a remarkable recovery for a patient with this degree and nature of brain injury. She was excited to spread the good news to everyone involved with Owen's early care.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He is Risen!

"How much suffering there is in the world!

... I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons.

...Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis, and for this reason the bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward...

...In Darfur and in the neighbouring countries, there is a catastrophic, and sadly to say underestimated, humanitarian situation...

... In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the violence and looting of the past weeks raises fears for the future of the Congolese democratic process and the reconstruction of the country...

... Nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees...

... Through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope.

Brothers and sisters in faith, who are listening to me from every part of the world!

Christ is risen and he is alive among us!

It is he who is the hope of a better future."

-- Pope Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi (To the City and to the World), Easter 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

The cry that rent the temple veil

The cry that rent the temple veil
And split the earth as deep as hell

And echoed through the universe,

Sounds, in bombardments, down to us.

There is no ear that has not heard

The deathless cry of murdered God;

No eye that has not looked upon

The lance of the crucifixion:

And yet that cry beats at the ears

Of old, deaf-mute interpreters,

Whose querulous and feeble cries

Drown stronger voices, and whose eyes

Will let no light of lances in:

They still will clamor for a sign!

Thomas Merton, from "An Argument -- Of the Passion of Christ"

Let us therefore frankly state that we are realists; we do not care for a system of philosophy so personal that nobody save ourselves would be ready to accept it. The true freedom of mind is to yield to the teaching of facts; to reject our own preconceived ideas every time somebody else is able to show us that they are wrong; in short, mental liberty consists in a complete submission to reality. This is the true spirit of scholastic realism... The Gospel does not ask us to say: "It seems to me, hence it is"; or, "I do not think so, hence it is not so"; but, "Est, est; non, non: that which is, is; that which is not, is not."

Either we shall be free from things, and slaves to our minds, or free from our minds because submitted to things.

-- Etienne Gilson, "Medieval Universalism and Its Present Value."
May you all have a most blessed Good Friday. Pray for this sinner, as I will pray for you.