Respect Life Blog

Telling the truth about stem cells

Date posted: September 16, 2014

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Yesterday’s New York Times contained a terribly misleading story about stem cells called “The Trials of Stem Cell Therapy: Plenty of Hope, But Halting Progress.” Online, the story leads with a photograph of embryonic stem cells. It then begins to profile a young man who suffered a heart attack, had significant heart damage, and received a stem cell transplant. His story is obviously one of success, as the next photo we are treated to is one of him break dancing.stem cells

Not once in the first 13 paragraphs of the article does the author differentiate between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells; they are all mushed together and lauded as “stem cell therapies.” But the 14th paragraph leads with this: “Stem cells harvested from an embryo can turn into any of the body’s 200 cell types…,” and below that, a photo of developing human embryos. Readers could easily conclude that embryonic stem cells had been used to successfully treat the young man.

Turns out, nope, not so much. Only at the very end of the article do readers learn that doctors used adult stem cells from the young man’s own bone marrow to treat his heart damage. These stem cells re-built his cardiac muscle cells, leading him on the path to recovery.

The overwhelming majority of success stories with stem cell treatments come from adult stem cells, an ethical source of these cells which does not require the destruction of innocent human life. Journalists have a responsibility to clearly explain the difference between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, and to advise the public of which therapies are actually working.

On the death of Robin Williams

Date posted: September 9, 2014

by Kathleen M. GallagherRobin_Williams

(The following Respect Life column was published in the August 27 edition of North Country Catholic.)

The recent suicide death of actor Robin WIlliams has prompted a renewed national conversation about depression, mental illness and the care and treatment of persons who suffer from these diseases.

I know something about this. My father struggled with severe depression and other anxiety disorders for much of his adult life. At times they were absolutely paralyzing for him, rendering him incapable of performing the simplest of tasks. As a child I did not understand the depth of his suffering; I selfishly focused more on the inconveniences I had to endure rather than the anguish of my father. More

Breaking up the Women’s Equality Act

Date posted: May 13, 2014

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today some of the most ardent defenders of Governor Cuomo’s 10-point “Women’s Equality Act” (WEA) called for the passage of one of the individual planks of that Act as a stand-alone bill. This is pretty significant, considering that less than a year ago these same women were demanding “ten or none!”

The particular bill in question is a human trafficking victim protection act. Democratic pro-choice Assembly members Amy Paulin, Aileen Gunther, Barbara Clark and Gabriela Rosa passionately condemned sex trafficking and said all efforts must be made to end the horrific scourge. That includes separating it out from the omnibus 10-point WEA and “ending the politics,” they said.

Wow. We’ve been saying that for more than a year now. The Senate passed each of the nine individual women’s bills (including the sex trafficking measure) last June, but did not pass the unnecessary and dangerous abortion expansion. And all nine died in the Assembly chamber, primarily due to the staunch opposition of the Democratic female members. Even Governor Cuomo was willing to break up his own bill last year.

Let’s pray that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hears the pleas of these lawmakers and allows at least this one bill to stand on its own. It definitely has enough bi-partisan support to pass, and by increasing penalties and giving more tools to prosecutors, it really could have a huge impact on the lives of so many young, vulnerable girls who are sold like slaves and exploited in unspeakable ways.

The only dissension comes from the pro-abortion lobby group NARAL, which says the bills should remain linked. Lawmakers should ignore their shrill and obstructionist voice.

Great resources on sex education and real protection

Date posted: April 15, 2014

by Kathleen M. GallagherExcellence-and-Ethics_4-14

Please take a look at the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Excellence and Ethics, a publication of the SUNY Cortland School of Education and its Center for the 4th and 5th R’s (Respect & Responsibility). It is filled with excellent articles promoting chastity and character-building, as well as information and practical advice about the growing threats of dating violence and sexual assault. It is appropriate for parents, teachers and students.

The Center for the 4th and 5th R’s was founded and is run by psychologist and education professor Tom Lickona, a dedicated and outstanding pro-life ally in New York State. Its mission is to promote the development of moral character in schools, families and communities. Learn more about the center here. Good stuff!

Supreme Court hears religious liberty cases

Date posted: March 25, 2014

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments from two businesses which say that the federal HHS mandate in the 2010 Affordable Care Act compels them to violate their religious beliefs. Specifically, they object to the mandate that requires them to purchase insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs that can cause early abortions. The Green family, which owns and operates the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, are devout Evangelical Christians; the Hahn family, which runs Conestoga Wood Specialties, are practicing Menonites.  Don’t believe anyone who says this is a “Catholic” issue.

The basic issue before the High Court is this: can the government coerce Americans to give up their religious freedom simply because they enter the marketplace to establish a business? Do people forfeit their religious liberty rights when they try to earn a living to sustain their families?

The cases hinges on the federal ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act,’ passed almost unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Upon the signing on November 16, 1993 on the south lawn of the White House, Clinton declared, “What this law basically says is that the government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”

Amen to that. What in the world could be so compelling that it meets that level of proof? What could possibly be so important to the government that it would strip First Amendment protections from legitimate businesses and cripple them with massive fines for non-compliance?

Oh, of course: free birth control for everyone.

You gotta be kidding me.

Meet the baby born to mom on life support

Date posted: February 12, 2014

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

A terrific and heartwarming story, but what’s really exciting is that I’m reading it in the mainstream media, the Albany affiliate of ABC news! Note the use of the words “unborn baby.” You gotta love and baby

Do your thing: respect life!

Date posted: January 23, 2014

by Kathleen  M. Gallagher

I am not a  marcher. I never have been. I don’t participate in Life Chains or pray the  Rosary outside in front of clinics. It’s just not my thing.

Nevertheless,  on Sunday, January 12, I marched. I marched with the Champlain Valley Right to  Life organization in Plattsburgh at their annual March for Life. I was  thoroughly impressed with the dedication and passion of this group of people.  These are believers who are literally willing to “walk the walk,” and their  public witness sends a strong message to the community.

But you know what? Marching is still not my thing.

Read the rest of this column here, in the North Country Catholic.

Which is more dangerous: tanning or abortion?

Date posted: December 11, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today the New York City Board of Health voted to assume regulatory control over tanning salons. City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley called the practice of indoor tanning “unnecessarily dangerous.” So, since the city has no power to ban the salons, they are going to vigorously enforce the health and safety standards on the books: cracking down on unlicensed shops; requiring operators to undergo training; ensuring there are adequate warning signs and eye-ware for patrons; and certifying that no one under 17 years old gets inside (that’s state law.)tanning salon

All good. I have no beef with any of it. But come on! When was the last time New York City did anything about the unlicensed abortion clinics all over the five boroughs? Shouldn’t abortion facilities be held accountable to at least the same standards as tanning salons to protect the health and safety of women? Are routine inspections ever done to ensure trained staff, sanitary conditions, emergency back-up, and overall patient well-being?

The murder convictions against Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year should give us all pause. Gosnell blatantly disregarded the law, preyed on indigent women who were in their final weeks of pregnancy, and callously killed at least one woman and three babies born alive in his abortion mill. The grand jury report on his actions indicated that his abortion facility was not inspected in 17 years, and that the reason for this was purely political: administration officials concluded that inspections would be “putting up barriers to women seeking abortion.”

C’mon, New York City, we are better than that, aren’t we? Please, please enforce the law, inspect the clinics, provide necessary oversight, and safeguard vulnerable women.

“My Abortion”

Date posted: November 13, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I just came across this feature article in this week’s edition of New York Magazine. It’s quite possibly the saddest thing ever. A decidedly “pro-choice” publication, the magazine shares 26 personal stories of women who have had abortions. Their words are filled with regret, uncertainty, and shame. And even those women who don’t express such feelings outright, reveal deep pain and loss when you read between the lines.

Abortion rights advocates have a new campaign they are promoting to strengthen support for abortion. In their words, they want to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion.”

I have news for them. Women are not made to feel that way. Abortion goes against human nature. And women, particularly women who have gone through it, know that.

Abortion is what it is. It will never be something to laud or to celebrate.


Identity Theft – DNA Style

Date posted: September 10, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Last month an historic agreement was reached between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the family of a woman named Henrietta Lacks. It didn’t get a lot of media attention, but it is critically important. If you’ve heard of Henrietta’s name, it’s likely because of the 2010 book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, a non-fiction gem that stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. The book begins with this quote from Elie Wiesel from “The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code”henrietta lacks

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

Read my column on the new NIH pact and why it’s important here, in the Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.