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Category Archives: Human Reproduction

Calves on the Ground Put Money in the Pocket – Drovers Magazine

The next crop of calves is what keeps the cattle industry in business. Knowing this, a Texas A&M University study aims to reduce reproduction failure, which can cause a significant loss to the U.S. beef industry.

Rebecca Poole, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in theCollege of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Animal Science, has received a two-year grant from theU.S. Department of AgricultureNational Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Pooles project, Hormonal and Immunological Influences on the Uterine Microbiome in Cattle, is aimed at developing a better understanding of the relationship between reproductive hormones and immune changes as well as the microbiome of the reproductive tract in beef cattle.

Like a fertility clinic for humans its the same idea, just bringing it to the beef cattle world, Poole said. They have found there are a lot of relationships between the microbiome of the reproductive tract and fertility in women, and so the research has continued from there to establish the understanding of microbiomes in other species, like our livestock.

She said now that the technology is available to better understand the microbiome, its a great time to work in this area of research. Microbiome research in the past was dependent on being able to culture certain bacteria in a petri dish, but that was a limiting factor, because only about 1% of the bacteria can be cultured.

Now, using a sequencing-type approach, we are able to determine all the bacteria in a certain environment, Poole said.

Poole said the presence and activity of symbiotic bacteria in the reproductive tract and its effects on fertility is relatively unknown in cattle, and so that is where she will concentrate her research.

She believes that variation in reproductive hormone secretion and/or immune function control the bacterial species diversity in the uterus, which subsequently affects pregnancy establishment and maintenance in beef cattle.

The producer doesnt necessarily need to understand the different types of bacteria, Poole said. My research will take the concepts the producers understand along the lines of the estrous cycle, estrous synchronization protocols, and reproductive hormones; and I will see how those relate to the microbiome so that we can find ways to potentially manipulate it, from a hormonal standpoint, to create a healthy microbiome to establish a pregnancy.

She said she will be using standard estrous synch protocols that producers are used to, such as using GnRH or prostaglandin injections to create a high estrogen or high progesterone environment and seeing how that manipulates the bacterial species.

We have found differences between cattle that are essentially able to establish a pregnancy versus those that do not, differences in their uterine microbiome before breeding, Poole said. So really we are just trying to figure out if there are other mechanisms that are controlling that microbiome, like reproductive hormones, and also the immune system is another component that is most likely involved with changes in the microbiome.

Pooles project further contributes to the Department of Animal Sciences Areas of Excellence pregnancy and developmental programming,which emphasizes an increased understanding of animal reproduction at molecular, cellular and whole animal levels.

The first objective of this project is to look at the relationship between differing levels of reproductive hormones and the reproductive microbiome prior to breeding. The second objective is to look at the relationship between the immune system and reproductive microbiome.

Poole said she will be collecting samples over the next month and will artificially inseminate the cows and then begin looking at pregnancy results. She expects by the end of summer to have results that will help begin establishing the relationship between the reproductive hormones and the reproductive microbiome.Poole holds a blood collection tube post-centrifugation. The tube is coated with sodium heparin for the extraction of plasma (yellow portion) which can be used for hormone detection assays.

This will help us gain a better understanding of what is influencing the reproductive tract microbiome in cattle and help us focus on improving fertility in beef cattle through enhance management practices, she said. The ultimate goal is to increase the sustainability of the animal production industry.

Poole said in addition to this research, she is a part of another project looking at nutritional effects on the microbiome, and that should be available around the same time.

So, our suggestions to producers could be based on nutrition or it could be a hormonal thing, which means we suggest they take a blood sample at a certain point in time to see where a cow stands is she a good contender for breeding based on her hormone concentrations? she said. It may mean, for example, suggesting the use of cattle heat detection patches, which is an indication of estrogen concentrations at breeding.

Poole said knowing this information will allow producers to feel more comfortable at the time of breeding based on information of the cows reproductive hormones, which will indicate what its reproductive microbiome looks like.

Not every producer will utilize this information not those, for example, who just turn the bull out in the pasture and hope for the best, she said. This would be geared toward someone who has an extensive management program of some kind, utilizing estrous synchronization and artificial insemination.

Based on my results, I can provide suggestions for producers and say, you need to take a blood sample at this time, and lets look at her reproductive hormone concentrations or her immune cell levels and see if her uterine microbiome environment is acceptable for breeding, Poole said. Again, it is like the human fertility clinic, and we can estimate likelihood of establishing a pregnancy.

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US Department of Agriculture Awards UNC Grant to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes in Dairy and Beef Cows – PRNewswire

To summarize: The recently conceived embryo must signal its presence to the mother, and a successful pregnancy can only establish when the signal preserves production of a pro-pregnancy hormone, progesterone, from a gland on the ovary called the corpus luteum. Progesterone from the corpus luteum in turn prompts the uterus to secrete nourishing factors that support the developing pregnancy.

Sometimes, there's a "miscommunication" between the developing embryo and the mother, resulting in the corpus luteum dying, progesterone levels dropping and the loss of the pregnancy.

For female dairy cows, the likelihood of this miscommunication has increased, resulting in fewer pregnancies. It's speculated that slower developing embryos miss their window of opportunity and fail to establish the maternal recognition of pregnancy. Burns and Haughian believe that omega-3 fatty acids could "extend the window" of time for perfectly healthy, yet slow growing, embryos to be recognized, resulting in more successful pregnancies.

"It's been documented that we do see an increase in pregnancy outcomes with the supplementation of omega-3 containing fish byproducts to the diet, and we're really interested in fine-tuning the mechanisms to make it even more efficient," Burns said.

Because the embryo is developing slowly, the mother cow doesn't recognize she's pregnant, so she naturally signals from the uterus to kill the corpus luteum gland, which resets her cycle and inadvertently also kills the embryo. The uterine hormone that ultimately kills the gland and the underdeveloped embryo is prostaglandin. Supplementing omega-3 fatty acids appears to shield the gland from prostaglandin, allowing the embryo more time to develop and be recognized, resulting in more successful pregnancies.

"Because the embryo develops slowly, the mother thinks she's not pregnant and, thus, releases the prostaglandin signal to kill the gland, and once the gland's going, then the embryo's also going [to die]" said Burns. "What we're trying to do is widen this window of opportunity so that if by chance mom makes a mistake and releases the prostaglandin hormone, then we can better protect the gland from the first initial signal with the use of omega-3 fatty acids in order to give the developing embryo more time to signal to its mother that she's still pregnant."

If Burns and Haughian's research proves positive, then dairy farmers and cattle ranchers could see an increase in profits that would then trickle down to consumers as cost-savings when purchasing milk and beef products.

"By increasing pregnancy outcomes, by say, 10%, this translates to an increase of profitability for American ranchers and dairy farmers in the millions of dollars in meat and dairy products," Burns said.

Another benefit is applying this research to other fields of biology. "You often also learn something about the way humans operate, as well," Haughian said. "In some ways, we know more about how we, as humans, reproduce due to work done in cattle, sheep, pigs, etc. There's this ultimate benefit to better understand human reproductive processes."

Burns and Haughian have partnered with Colorado State University's Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory to house, care and feed the animals the omega-3 rich fish byproducts for their research. They're also conducting research in their lab at UNC with the help of numerous UNC undergraduate and graduate students.

"This gives an opportunity for undergraduates to participate in authentic research experiences and an opportunity to work with large, domestic farm animals," said Burns. "It allows these students to get into the laboratory and develop hands-on laboratory skills."

The research's first trial is set to begin in March, dependent on public health guidelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

About the GrantProject Title: Influence Of Fish Oil On Corpus Luteum FunctionGrant Awards and Funding Agencies: $500,000 four-year grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and AgricultureResearchers: Patrick Burns (principal investigator) and James Haughian (co-principal investigator)Student Researchers: Anika Shelrud, Grace Kochman, Winford Rule, Hayley Stauber, Travis Kinn, Kathy Mireles, Aubrey Chacon, Natalia Sheppard, Allison Updike and Cam HuberMore information about the grant

Contact: Katie Corder Public Relations Strategist [emailprotected]

SOURCE University of Northern Colorado

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US Department of Agriculture Awards UNC Grant to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes in Dairy and Beef Cows - PRNewswire

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Small animals that carry disease adapt well to our activities A study suggests that small mammals – Sciworthy

On average, humans cut down 2,400 trees each minute for expanding farmland and neighborhoods. This increases our risk of being exposed to animal-borne diseases, according to a study published in the journal Nature. Researchers found that, compared to untouched land, heavily-modified natural landscapes are breeding grounds for animals that carry disease-causing viruses and bacteria.

As humans continue to transform forest land into farms and suburban housing, we cause many animals to disappear from their natural habitat. Some animals are negatively impacted if their main survival resources are removed. However, some species do better when wild habitats are disrupted. They often thrive in places where humans live. The researchers set out to understand whether these animals are more likely to carry pathogens that are harmful to humans.

Researchers in the study first used a database called PREDICTS, which stands for Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems. This was their first step toward understanding why this happens. The PREDICTS database contains detailed information of the locations where various research studies found different species. This database helps us to analyze how different animal species respond to changes brought by humans in their habitat.

To make the PREDICTS database, researchers used information from other studies that had information about the species present in a location. For each of those studies, they classified the locations according to what they are used for untouched forests, forests recovering after logging, plantation forest, cropland, pasture, and urban. They classified the land by how heavily it is used for that purpose minimal, light, or intense.

The researchers used the PREDICTS database to see which animal species were more likely to be found in areas with a lot of people. Indeed, they did find that some species were more common in those areas than other species. Then they used other databases to look up those animals, to see if they were also known to carry human diseases. Animals that carry human diseases were referred to as host species and those that dont are referred to as non-host species. They used a strict definition of a host which was when a species either got sick from a disease causing pathogen, or if the species was found to carry the pathogen, even if it doesnt get sick from it.

Their dataset contained associations between 3,883 animal species and 5,694 pathogens. An association between an animal and a pathogen means that the animal was found to be capable of hosting a pathogen that can infect humans. But, it doesnt necessarily mean that the pathogens will be transmitted to humans.

Some species were not associated with any pathogens at all. This may simply be because there havent been enough studies done on those species. To account for this possibility, the researchers used a statistical method called bootstrapping. For example, if a particular kind of mouse was not associated with any pathogens, but a related species of that mouse had been studied more thoroughly and found to be a host, that mouse would also be classified as a host.

The decision to reclassify an animal as a host was not arbitrary. Bootstrapping is a mathematical procedure. The researchers began by stating two reasons that an animal might be misclassified as a non-host that animal might not be a host very often among others of its kind, and it might not be found to harbor human pathogens very often when it is studied. The researchers considered the probabilities of these two reasons when recalculating their classifications.

After building this dataset, they analyzed it to see if disturbed and undisturbed land had species differences. Overall, their analysis showed that in areas where land has been converted from forests to agricultural and urban lands, the species that are able to survive these changes are more likely to carry human pathogens. There were 21-144% more wildlife species that are known to carry human pathogens in human-inhabited lands than in non-inhabited areas.

Many of these disease-carrying species, such as rodents, bats, and perching birds, are small, highly mobile, and reproduce very quickly. They experience huge population increases in human-altered landscapes. The researchers suggest that it is possible that these species shorter generation times and higher reproduction make it easier for them to adapt to changes from human activity compared to large mammals.

Finding places on Earth for humans to live can be challenging in densely populated areas. To build and expand cities, humans will inevitably continue to alter natural landscapes, increasing our risk of exposure to wild animals that carry human diseases. This research was conducted to understand how human activities affect the environment, and how these decisions impact us in return.

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Is It Safe to Work With Your Laptop on Your Lap? – InsideHook

A year ago, the number of Americans working from home stood at just under five million. These days, its up around 70 million. Thats hard to process. We moved almost half the nations workforce home in a matter of months. And while some still treat it like a temporary measure water cooler chat now is just Zoom riffs on the question When do you think were going back? any shift that seismic comes with a measure of permanence.

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom expects the WFH era to outlive the reign of COVID-19. One survey, which he conducted with the Atlanta Federal Reserve and the University of Chicago, found that even after the pandemic dust settles, most top firms plan to keep employees home one to three days a week. That will change the world. Corporations will reconsider the value of a downtown high-rise. Workers without fast home internet will be left behind. Transit services will need to reconfigure their long-term goals.

Thats big-picture stuff. But extending telecommuting will result in countless tiny consequences, too some of them alarming. Just look at the habits youve picked up during quarantine. Are you prepared to keep them for years? Like, snacking all day. Checking emails hours after you logged off. Or working with your computer balancing on your lap.

Im especially guilty of that last one. Sometimes, in order to get my act together and draft an email, I need a change of scenery. There are only so many options in the house, so I move from the desk to the couch. Other days I climb back into bed (or put off ever leaving it), in order to get work done. I would guess Im not the only one. But is that a good idea, really? Is it okay to have a hot machine sitting directly atop your nether regions for hours at a time?

In the past, this wasnt much of a problem because it wasnt much of an option. Unless you worked in one of those open-floor startups, chances are you werent putting your feet up on a poof during the workday. But in a world that seems determined to not go back to normal, its important to know how a consistent laptop-on-lap routine could affect the body. Below, we break down four side effects commonly associated with the practice, and your risk of each.

Michael Oxendine/Unsplash

Male infertility is the first issue that comes to mind here. Theres a reason for that. In 2005, Human Reproduction published a study titled: Increase in scrotal temperature in laptop computer users. The conclusion was laptops could raise the temperature of a lap by five degrees Fahrenheit. Remember what laptops looked like in 2005, though? They were as thick as textbooks. Their cooling systems were useless.

A 2011 study, meanwhile, found that heat from a laptop could raise the temperature of yourscrotumby up to 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit. To be sure, any heating of that area is not a great idea; your testicles dangle for good reason sperm production occurs at around 93.2F. Thats well below the normal body temperature of 98.6F. The more sperm you make, the better chance you have that a few of them will be properly-shaped, straight swimmers.

But for years now, urologists have agreed that sitting with a laptop over your pants will not be the reason you lose fertility. That information hasnt exactly filtered its way through the public yet. Perhaps people have been reticent to ask, fearful that the answer they might hear. If youre struggling with fertility, you probably shouldnt plant something hot on your privates why risk it? but that falls in the category of low-caliber behavioral changes, like opting to wear loose-fitting boxers to bed.

There are larger forces at play that will damage your sperm count. Like obesity, drug or alcohol abuse, chromosomal defects, prior surgeries, and infections. If working with a laptop is going to lower your sperm count, itll be from working at night and missing out on sleep. Graveyard shifts have been linked to insomnia, which adversely affects fertility.

A close cousin to the sperm count discourse. People like to cite RFR, or radio frequency radiation, as another reason to keep the laptop away from the body. This point is reminiscent of the stand too close to a microwave and youll catch cancer myth. But radiation youre exposed to from long periods with a laptop is about the same amount youd experience from flying across the country. In other words, its not something to get too worked up about.

This condition has three over-the-top names: academic branding, toasted skin syndrome and erythema ab igne. Buckle up, cause its a doozie. Back in the day, elderly people used to sit too close to open fires or electric space heaters. Without central heating, it was more common for those who desperately needed heat to crowd around a single source. Over time, that habit could result in a reticular pigmented dermatosis, which is a fancy way of saying a big red rash.

The modern comeback of erythema ab igne, while still uncommon, has been fueled by direct contact between computers and thighs. When skin is consistently exposed to the surface of a laptop say, for at least six months, according to one study its at an increased risk of looking like this. Hence the fun nicknames. The key, clearly, is to make sure theres at least a pair of jeans (if not a pillow or blanket) in between you and the device.

Male infertility, radiation and skin scalding are essentially fringe fears of getting too intimate with your laptop. They could happen, they probably wont; youd be better served just getting off the bed or couch and not taking the chance. That said, one non-negotiable, not-great outcome of sitting or lounging with a computer is the hell it wages on your posture. Weve been beating this drum for a while now.

Looking directly down at a screen puts extreme pressure (up to 50 pounds!) on your neck. It morphs your back into an unnatural C. When staring at your computer, the top third of the screen should be as close to eye-level as possible. That allows your body to stay in a neutral position,whereby the spine is naturally aligned absolutely straight from head to toe. Feet planted firmly on the floor is extra credit.

This is why its worth setting up your WFH space correctly. Get a chair that doesnt want to destroy your back. Pick up a laptop stand. And experiment with other floating stations throughout the house; if you really have to sit at the couch, put a raised platform on your coffee table. Books and boxes can help you out there. Or pick up an adjustable tripod desk, which will give all sorts of heights to play with.

It might seem strange to worry about posture in the middle of a pandemic. But the world the pandemic has created isnt going away and the habits we create now are likely to stay, too. Give your back a break, keep your testes cool, and duck that toasted skin nonsense, too. Take the laptop off the lap.

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Is It Safe to Work With Your Laptop on Your Lap? - InsideHook

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Molecular characterization of the human kidney interstitium in health and disease – Science Advances

The gene expression signature of the human kidney interstitium is incompletely understood. The cortical interstitium (excluding tubules, glomeruli, and vessels) in reference nephrectomies (N = 9) and diabetic kidney biopsy specimens (N = 6) was laser microdissected (LMD) and sequenced. Samples underwent RNA sequencing. Gene signatures were deconvolved using single nuclear RNA sequencing (snRNAseq) data derived from overlapping specimens. Interstitial LMD transcriptomics uncovered previously unidentified markers including KISS1, validated with in situ hybridization. LMD transcriptomics and snRNAseq revealed strong correlation of gene expression within corresponding kidney regions. Relevant enriched interstitial pathways included G-protein coupled receptor. binding and collagen biosynthesis. The diabetic interstitium was enriched for extracellular matrix organization and small-molecule catabolism. Cell type markers with unchanged expression (NOTCH3, EGFR, and HEG1) and those down-regulated in diabetic nephropathy (MYH11, LUM, and CCDC3) were identified. LMD transcriptomics complements snRNAseq; together, they facilitate mapping of interstitial marker genes to aid interpretation of pathophysiology in precision medicine studies.

Molecular characterization of the human kidney interstitium in health and disease - Science Advances

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Could the fate of society depend on how we think about bodies? – Angelus News

Abortion. In vitro and other forms of assisted reproduction. Euthanasia. End-of-life decisions. They are among the most sensitive social issues of our age, and public policies in these areas generate heated moral argument and debate. So why cant our society agree about them?

According to O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame University law and politics professor and director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, the reason is that we have lost any shared understanding of the meaning of human life.

O. Carter Snead (Courtesy image)

We have indeed forgotten who we are and what we owe to one another. We desperately need to remember, he has written.

Sneads new book, What It Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard, $39.95), was recently named one of The Wall Street Journals Top 10 books of 2020.

In it, Snead takes a deep look at the way our society looks at the human person and human life what he terms expressive individualism. This philosophy, he argues, reduces human persons to the sum of their feelings and desires, forgetting that we are living bodies with deep personal histories, and that we belong to one another in families and communities.

In an interview with Angelus, Snead explains how this way of thinking leads to policies that diminish the most vulnerable and encourage divisions in society. He also calls for a new anthropology and better laws that would lead to greater compassion for the weak and greater respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life.

Why write this book and why now?

Ive been involved in public bioethics for almost 20 years, including time as general counsel for President George W. Bushs Council on Bioethics. Ive always been struck by how frequently the law fails to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us in the context of public bioethics.

Public bioethics began in scandals. Think of the Tuskegee scandal in which American researchers systematically deceived and exploited poor African American sharecroppers who were suffering from syphilis in Macon County, Alabama. Or of the research involving the intentional injection of Hepatitis into intellectually disabled children, chronicled by Henry Beecher in the New England Journal of Medicine. Or of the scandals involving research on newly born, just aborted, and imminently dying children in Scandinavia by American researchers.

So I started asking why it was that the law failed in this way, and what I came to was the view that our laws are rooted in a false and impoverished vision of what it means to be human and to flourish as a human being.

Laws dealing with abortion, assisted reproduction, end-of-life decision-making, euthanasia, and assisted suicide have a flattened, false vision of the person that excludes those who are not capable of high-level cognition, who cannot articulate their inner selves, and who cannot chart their own lifes course.

Its an anthropological vision that Robert Bellah, Charles Taylor, and others have referred to as expressive individualism, in which a person is conceived of as a singular, atomized individual unit abstracted from any social context such as connections to family, community, or country.

Expressive individuals are thought to flourish by their self-discovery of interior truths. They must chart their path accordingly and everything else relationships, the body, and nature are instruments to be harnessed in pursuit of that goal.

Excluded from that vision are the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the marginalized, and children including unborn and newborn.

A doctor draws blood from one of the Tuskegee test subjects in 1932. In his book, Snead argues that laws are failing the modern society's most vulnerable the same way they failed African Americans deceived during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. (Wikimedia Commons)

In U.S. abortion jurisprudence the moral status of the developing human person is entirely determined by each individual pregnant woman. What are the dangers of building laws about the human person based on such a subjective approach?

In Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun framed the question of abortion on the anthropology of expressive individualism, even though he didnt acknowledge it. He described the context of abortion as a clash of strangers, in which the child in the womb was considered to be an invasive burden, a parasite, something subhuman and sub-personal.

Blackmun declined to take a position on the moral status of the unborn human being. But he did say the state may not recognize that child as a person, not just under the Constitution but under the domestic laws of the state. The state may not adopt, as he said, one vision of personhood or one definition of personhood.

So the unborn childs moral status is an entirely subjective matter, to be determined by the woman carrying the child. It is a declaration that that child is sub-personal, has no rights under the Constitution, and may not have rights under state or federal law insofar as that conflicts with the interests and desires of the woman.

But a mother and her unborn child are not strangers. They are related to each other, both biologically and in a deeper relational way. If you were to understand the crisis of abortion through that lens, the conclusion is very different.

If we were to reframe abortion law as a unique crisis involving a mother and her child, we the community and the government would be summoned to their aid. By atomizing the mother and the child, Blackmun sets up an adversarial relationship of strife that can only be resolved through violence. Thats precisely what he gave us: the right to abortion.

You also explore the lack of laws that regulate artificial reproductive technologies (ART) and argue that this area of bioethics is also neglectful of the body and relationships. What would a coherent legal approach to ART look like?

People can do almost whatever they want in the quest to create a biologically related child. I argue that laws should treat these practices in light of the parent-child relationship that they involve.

The relationship between parent and child has certain implications and creates unchosen obligations on the part of the parent to care for the child, a right which that child does not need to earn.

When we begin the process of conceiving a child and initiating a pregnancy and birth through ART, were not just talking about an individual that is undertaking a project. Were talking about a person that wants to be a parent and who is a parent once they begin to participate in this process.

The best interest of that child is to be welcomed and unconditionally loved and cared for throughout his/her life. That means the law has to offer inducements, protections, deterrents, and other behavior-shaping devices to make sure that people act as they should vis-a-vis the well-being and the best interests of a child.

The way we practice IVF right now involves sex selection, multiple gestations, and all kinds of techniques that can modify the childs body. It involves gestational surrogacy and the buying and selling of eggs or batches of living embryos. Thats not an endeavor thats about being a parent and rightly taking care of children.

We have legal frameworks and policies that are designed to protect the well-being of children in American family law. And we have mechanisms to help support and shape the behavior of parents to ensure their childrens well-being.

Thats precisely the kind of norm that we should draw upon when thinking not only about ART, but about abortion, too: We should think about abortion as the proposed use of lethal force on behalf of a mother on an innocent child.


Many states are passing laws that allow people the freedom to choose the time, place, and manner of ones death. How can we make the case for protecting life from conception until natural death?

Expressive individualism doesnt take seriously what it means to be an embodied being that were fragile corruptible bodies in time, that were mutually dependent upon one another, and that were subject to natural limits, including disease, age, and death.

Because were embodied beings, we have to have certain kinds of support systems in our lives. We need what the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre calls networks of uncalculated giving and graceful receiving made up of people who are willing to make the good of others their own without seeking anything in return for it. The most obvious example of a network of uncalculated giving and graceful receiving is the family.

We all depend on these networks for survival, from our time as newborns, when we get sick, and as were nearing the end of our life. But we also depend on them to learn to care for others without expecting anything in return.

The law goes wrong when it fails to acknowledge this, especially when it comes to end-of-life decision-making. In places like California, which has legalized assisted suicide and promotes aggressive termination of life-sustaining measures for quality of life reasons, the law assumes that the highest good of the person whos sick is to assert his/her unencumbered will.

And so proponents say, Lets give them the freedom to kill themselves, to author the last chapter of their book in a way that coheres with their life story.

But anybody whos familiar with the clinical context in which these issues arise knows thats not reality. A person whos having suicidal ideation is almost always a person whos suffering from depression or from intractable suffering. And thats not a zone where autonomy is operating at its height thats a zone where a person needs help.

If you come to their aid and treat someones depression or pain the right way, studies show that a lot of suicidal ideation goes away.

Now, are there people, probably rich, maybe white or privileged, who can make the decision to end their lives in a full and free way? Maybe there are, but you dont make law and public policy for the richest or most privileged people. You make law and public policy to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.

In California, there are just too many of those people the elderly, the disabled, members of marginalized groups, minorities, and others who already dont have enough protection from inequalities and the health care system that we have.

These laws create a path of least resistance toward assisted suicide, especially for the marginalized. This is why the disability rights community largely opposes assisted suicide, and why Bishop Charles Blake and the Pentecostal African American community in California rose up against it.

When it comes to persuasion, its important for arguments to be sound, to be grounded in evidence and good reasoning. But even more than that, I always come back to Mother Teresa: you cant really persuade someone without loving them first, and not in a cynical or strategic way.

People who disagree with us wont hear us and we wont listen to them if we dont take that approach. Hopefully that will touch their hearts in a way that they will be open to listen.

But even if not, you still have to love them, not only because its the right thing to do, but because its the only way were going to actually have a conversation in which we hear one another and think about what is being said.

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Could the fate of society depend on how we think about bodies? - Angelus News

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