Eastern Europe's Biological Chamber of Horrors

Brian Clowes
Human Life International
email: bclowes@hli.org
Reproduced with Permission

This is the first of a series of four articles that center on the Ukrainian stem-cell scandal and its associated atrocities.

The Irresistible Nature of Evil Unleashed.

Don't be scared. We don't have to grow a whole new you. ... an embryo cloned from one of your cells would need just six or seven weeks to grow many of the tissues you need. We already condone harvesting of cells from cloned human embryos for the first two weeks. Why stop there? ... If all you want is tissue, who cares? You can tell yourself what we already tell ourselves about unwanted in vitro embryos: They're doomed anyway. Patients' lives are at stake. We can't let personal morality get in the way of science. We can't wait.

-- Slate magazine science reporter William Saletan.[1]

For decades, pro-life philosophers have been warning the world about the so-called moral "slippery slope." The concept is simple and has been proven countless times by history and human nature: Once you have accepted a little bit of a particular evil, it is impossible to resist condoning more and more of it. The first step is always the hardest, but once you have taken that first step, once you have become comfortable with a small dose of evil, once you have cracked that fatal door open just a tiny little bit, the question inevitably arises: "Why not just take one more step?"

Of course, after you have taken dozens of steps, there is really not much motivation to hold back -- nor is there any logical or rational argument for doing so.

The leaders of all of the many anti-life movements -- pro-abortion, `gay rights,' euthanasia, population control, pornography, pedophilia and all the rest -- ridicule the "slippery slope" theory while simultaneously taking full advantage of it.

All of the anti-life movements ultimately demand complete and total acceptance of their beliefs without limitation or exception and, if necessary, they insist that such endorsement be enforced by the coercive power of the State. However, the leaders of these movements also know that they cannot achieve their objectives all at once. Therefore, they advance through a strategy of slow and steady incrementalism, because the only practical way for a social movement to enact its goals is not in one huge leap, but in small and non-threatening stages.

In every case, we begin with requests that always seem reasonable and sensible;

Humanity does not seem capable of learning the harsh lesson that evil will not allow itself to be contained. Once people accept its smallest manifestation, it spreads irresistibly, unstoppably, sidestepping with contemptuous ease all of the legal and moral barriers that men attempt to place in its way. Once released, containing evil is as difficult as pouring a gallon of filthy, black motor oil into a crystal-clear forest pond and then attempting to confine its spread with one's bare hands.

We become accustomed to each new horror, perhaps as a defense mechanism. After all, if we think about such evils too much, our outlook on life would be permanently darkened. As we did during the Holocaust, we just pretend that certain evils do not exist.

And so, the inhumanity marches on.

Thirty-five years ago, leading ethicists suggested that defective newborn children should be killed by the State over their parent's objections, "for the good of society." Hardly anyone noticed or cared when this program was actually put into practice in many of America's hospitals.

Thirty years ago, immediately following the Roe v. Wade decision, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a series of articles entitled "The Abortion Profiteers," which exposed the corruption-riddled abortion industry in the Chicago area which had killed dozens of women and botched hundreds of abortions. Most of the abortion mills featured in the series are still operating.

Twenty years ago, pro-lifers exposed the forced-abortion program in the People's Republic of China. After an initial period of outrage by a handful of people, the controversy soon sank into oblivion.

Fifteen years ago, pro-lifers uncovered the partial-birth abortion atrocity. There was widespread anger -- for just a little while. But now the vast majority of people just shrug their shoulders while a fruitless battle continues year after year in the court system, out of sight of everyone but the attorneys, abortionists, and a few of the more committed pro-life groups.

This is the way every personal and societal addiction begins -- with just one dirty movie, with just one joint, with just one bottle of whiskey, with just one murder.

So it comes as a shock -- but really not as much of a surprise -- that Eastern Europe has become a virtual cornucopia of biological horrors that prey, as always, on the weak and defenseless.

The Beginning: Two Heroes.

Abominations are always exposed to the world by men and women who possess two essential qualities: A functioning conscience and unflinching courage. Two such people are Vadym Lazaryev and Vladymyr Ischenko, two Ukrainian medical doctors, who pierced the heavy shroud of secrecy around the ghastly activities in Eastern Europe for the first time in the mid-1990s.

While practicing at the Donetsk Provincial Anti-Inflammatory Center, Dr. Lazaryev became aware of practices he believed to be both illegal and unethical. He wondered why doctors told almost all pregnant women in Ukraine that there is a very high probability that their preborn children have serious birth defects. His own wife Elena was advised to have an abortion on the grounds that her preborn son would have severe birth defects -- which, of course, he did not.[2,3] His own mother had thirteen pregnancies, eleven of which ended in abortion between his older brother and him.2

There are two reasons why Ukrainian doctors advise almost all pregnant women to abort. The first is that Ukrainian law states that any handicapped baby that is born becomes the responsibility of the attending doctor, so they err on the "safe side" in order to protect themselves. The second is that preborn children are excellent sources of organs and stem cells.

Dr. Lazaryev dug a little deeper and found that the abortion rate in Ukraine is much, much higher than the official figures would suggest -- in fact, about 1.2 million annually in a nation with a population of about 46 million. Three out of four Ukrainian pregnancies end in abortion. To put this number in perspective, Ukraine's abortion rate is more than six times higher than the abortion rate in the United States. As Dr. Lazaryev says, "The only thing which protects unborn life in Ukraine is the courage of pregnant women."[2]

According to the United Nations, Ukraine's population is declining by over 600,000 a year, and is expected to continue to plunge to a level that is less than half of what it is today by the year 2050.[4]

Dr. Lazaryev, who very much loves his country, laments that

After five hundred years, our descendants -- if we leave any descendants with our abortion legislation -- they will remember us not as a people who won the Second World War, but as a people who established and allowed this well-known from ancient times practice of human sacrifice. I mean abortion. So our generation, honestly, from my mind, from point of view of future generations, have nothing to be proud of. It is shame for me to belong to a generation which is responsible for making abortion legal.[2]

Dr. Lazaryev realized that Ukraine's enormously high abortion rate is suicide on a national scale -- a kind of self-immolation that has happened before. He says that

It is a very painful lesson. When people ask me `Where do you come from,' I say `I am not from Ukraine, I am from the Soviet Union. I am from the biggest graveyard in the world.' If you want a lesson from this graveyard, the State, over seventy years, waged war against the family. and when the State finally won this war, it was the date of the suicide of the State.[2]

Continuing his investigations, Dr. Lazaryev found that many women were paid $200 to $300 to carry their pregnancies to a very late stage and to deliver the babies alive, still cocooned in the amniotic sac and attached to their placentas, in a kind of forced premature birth. This procedure allows their organs to be harvested in the freshest possible state.[3] While abortion is legal in Ukraine to 22 weeks, procedures of this sort carried out in the latter half of pregnancy are given a different name -- "artificial delivery" -- and thus sidestep the law.

The babies are delivered this way because it is crucial that their cells and organs be harvested from them while they are alive. This can only be accomplished through a live birth -- babies from true surgical abortions and miscarriages are dead and are therefore useless for this purpose.[3]

Intrigued, Dr. Lazaryev went to work unearthing the details of what would eventually turn out to be a continent-wide biotechnical conspiracy. He found that every region of Ukraine has twin institutions, one of which does the late-term artificial deliveries, and the other which dismembers the live fetus and passes the parts on to other buyers.

The living babies, some at full term, are cut apart without the benefit of expensive anesthesia. As one witness has testified upon seeing one of the baby's exhumed bodies, "Look, here is the grimace of a human crying, it is hurt ... It has the grimace of a shouting person. So this is the proof. I'm saying that he was alive when he was being cut."[5]

Dr. Lazaryev also found several Ukrainian Web sites that advertised prices for the parts of late-term preborn children. One of these is Cell Transplantation, which features a menu for practically every part of early- and late-term fetuses -- liver, neuronal cells, thymus and thyroid, ovaries and testicles, eyes, and suspensions of liquefied fetal liver, brain and spine.[6] All of these tissues are tested for various viruses, including HIV and hepatitis-B and -C, and then are frozen live with liquid nitrogen.[7]

The (Stem-Cell) Empire Strikes Back.

Dr. Lazaryev: "Collecting Troubles in My Life." Dr. Lazaryev was beginning to grasp the depth and breadth of what we might call this "bio-conspiracy," and realized that he would need help if he was to proceed further. In September 1997, he attempted to register a modest little pro-life group called "The Right to Be Born" with the Ukrainian Department of Justice. He was refused on the grounds that his organization "threatened the rights and freedoms of citizens."[3] Undaunted, he continued to give talks, write news articles, and show Dr. Bernard Nathanson's film The Silent Scream.

Initially, "Right to Be Born" had about 15 people who kept the discussion abstract, arguing for the humanity of the unborn and for a limitation on the extremely liberal abortion laws in Ukraine, where women might obtain ten, twenty, thirty, or even more abortions, all paid for by the State.

Dr. Lazaryev became convinced that the abortion industry was fueled by the simple greed of doctors, who could multiply their income by a factor of ten, twenty, or even fifty times.

One of the many central contradictions of all of the anti-life movements is that they are all absolutely convinced that what they are doing is moral and acceptable -- but they savagely attack those who make their activities public. Dr. Lazaryev discovered this principle firsthand.

At the end of 1997, Grigorii Bondar, the General Director of the Anti-Inflammatory Center at which Dr. Lazaryev worked, began experimenting with the injection of fetal cells, and began making a lot of money from the practice. When Dr. Lazaryev objected, Bondar fired him, saying that "there is no room for traitors in the hospital."[3]

In 1999, he was finally allowed to register his pro-life group. From that moment, government informer Sergei Tikhomirov became a constant and unwanted part of his life, visiting him at home on a weekly basis and grilling him on his activities.[3]

As Dr. Lazaryev continued his investigations, he was subjected to greater and greater pressure to cease and desist. First, he was denounced and threatened by his fellow doctors. A high-ranking official, the Commissioner for the Protection of Child Care and Maternity, informed him that he was no longer eligible for medical care in Ukraine. When he became gravely ill in April 2004, local hospitals refused to treat him. One doctor, Yelena Yeremyenko, told him to "look for somewhere else to get treatment" and said "your politics are your death." Two corporations offered him high-paying "plum" assignments -- but only if he gave up his opposition to abortion and stem-call research.[3]

He refused to give up, and the pressure rapidly became more and more direct and malicious. On August 13, 2004, an official from the Donetsk Anti-Tumor Center called him and informed him that he was coming over with a gang of thugs to "break his head off."[3] As promised, the official did appear at his house with a gang, but Dr. Lazaryev had called witnesses over and so the threatened physical beating did not occur.

Then the Tax Police suddenly began a long and exhaustive examination of his business, which shut it down. The leading tax official in the area told him that he could only begin business again when he made "the right decisions."[3] Meanwhile, an SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) official visited him and told him that he had better get rid of all the evidence he had, or his life was in danger. Major Roman Drebishev, commander of the local anti-crime section, described several instances of people who had found themselves in Dr. Lazaryev's position and had suddenly died of violent -- and naturally uninvestigated and unsolved -- "accidents."[3] These officials apparently were not speaking in theoretical terms, because a few days later, while he was driving to a meeting in Slavyansk on a dark and deserted country road with his colleague Dr. Vladymyr Ischenko, a bus rammed their car at high speed and then drove off into the night. One policeman thought that the incident had been carried out by professionals, because the bus had aimed for the car's fuel tank and had expertly run the car off the road.[8]

Although he had properly reported all of these threats and acts of violence to the proper authorities, they repeatedly told him that they would do absolutely nothing.

In September 2004, Dr. Lazaryev finally concluded that his position was hopeless, and fled the country of his birth. He traveled via Belarus and Portugal and requested asylum in the Shannon Airport. Two years later, his family finally fled Ukraine in an almost miraculous escape, and he said that "My children, when I leave Ukraine, they were sure I'm going to put my car in the garage. So the father returned from the garage after two years."[2]

There is no doubt in Dr. Lazaryev's mind that, if he returns to Ukraine, "I will be killed because investors lost money. I will be killed as a lesson for people who one day decide to raise their voice against this evil."[2]

Dr. Ischenko: Getting Personal. In October 2003, Dr. Lazaryev invited pediatrician Dr. Vladymyr Ischenko to join his pro-life group "The Right to Be Born."

The abortion issue soon became personal and tangible to him when he and his wife Inna experienced the same ordeal that Dr. Lazaryev and his wife had endured. Medical professionals told Inna that one of her twins had Down's Syndrome, and that the second twin was severely malformed. Inna refused to abort, and carried the pregnancy to term. As with Irina Lazaryev, both were perfectly healthy.[8]

The practice of telling pregnant mothers that their babies are handicapped in the hope of obtaining their babies for research or the fetal tissue trade is well-documented. Investigator Sergei Shorobogatko said that "When a doctor wants a foetus [to sell], he tells a girl there is a medical reason for an abortion later than 12 weeks. A special procedure extracts it with the placenta."[9]

Dr. Ischenko performed an undercover investigation to test the veracity of the claims of fetal organ trafficking. He traveled to clinics advertising such material in the cities of Donetsk, Mariopol and Kharkov, and was offered small quantities of live fetal brain tissue for 1,500 Euros in each location. He actually succeeded in purchasing a child's brain at the VitaCell Clinic in Donetsk.[8]

Such trafficking in living human organs is not only in violation of Ukrainian law, but also contravenes European Council resolutions.[3]

Dr. Ischenko soon learned that such practices were not confined to just his own country, but were run by a kind of "biological mafia" that spread throughout Eastern Europe.

Eventually, he fled the country with Dr. Lazaryev, and for the same reasons: Death threats and attempts on his life went uninvestigated by an indifferent and corrupt police force. In fact, Dr. Ischenko noted that well-known journalists who are critical of the government, and other witnesses of illegal activities, have been murdered, and the government makes not the slightest effort to bring the killers to trial.

He left his wife Inna, pregnant with twins, in Ukraine. Soon after he left, she began to receive phone calls demanding to know where he was. A policeman appeared at her home and, without a warrant, searched it and confiscated her only protection, a properly registered pistol. Frightened, she moved to her sister's house in Kharkov, but the threatening telephone calls followed her there.[8] Inna still languishes in Ukraine, but efforts are being made to rescue her and her twins.

Yet, after all of this, Drs. Ischenko and Lazaryev have still not been granted asylum in Ireland, despite the obvious threat to their lives. Speaking of their cases, Irish Member of the European Parliament Kathy Sinnott said that

Their situation is very straightforward in terms of being genuine asylum seekers. They are not here for economic reasons, they have put their lives and careers on the line. They are coming from a country where we know that law enforcement is very poor and the government is very corrupt. There is every reason to believe them and, on that basis, they should have been given a favorable decision a long time ago. ... Irish parliamentarians were in Washington lobbying Congress to allow undocumented Irish to stay in the United States, and at the same time I'm driving to the court to plead with the judge to allow a legitimate case to go through here, to allow these people to stay, and I felt that the level of hypocrisy was just breathtaking ...[10]

So why is the Irish government so stubbornly denying the doctors a legitimate asylum request? Mrs. Sinnott goes on:

We have developed pharmaceuticals as our leading export in Ireland. Our government brings in pharmaceuticals and tells them that they can do what they like. They like their companies to feel comfortable here, and if they want to do tissue research, our government is not going to ask too many questions. In 2001, the head of the research board for the government, Bruce Barrington, said that we really have to get over our opposition to things like embryo research and cloning. In other words, we have to get over our ethical problems and get on with the real business of making money and attracting pharmaceutical companies and frontline research.

In Ireland, we have a very poor record, because we have a scandal in which our government and our health boards for years allowed orphans and children in disabilities in homes to be used for scientific experimentation. We have an organ retention scandal that went on for years and even probably involved my own niece, who died at 26 days of age. Babies who died, children, even some adults had their organs removed without any knowledge of their parents, any permission being sought, and many of these organs wound up in drug companies, we know that ...

Drug companies seeking tissues and organs haven't stopped seeking them, they've just had to leave countries like Ireland because of parents, because of scandals, but they've moved further East ... Wherever there are poor people it moves. Ireland was very poor, was cash-hungry, when this was happening here. It just moves to wherever people will accept cash and not think too much about how it's being obtained ...[10]

In summary, then, the situation is this: The people exploiting the poor, the children and the unborn for their tissues and organs were kicked out of Ireland and moved to Eastern Europe. Now two doctors from Eastern Europe have discovered these horrors and are seeking asylum in the country that helped to start it all -- and are being turned away because their cases are awkward and embarrassing to the government, and because they glaringly highlight its hypocrisy.

Next Page: Just a Simple Matter of Supply and Demand
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