Dakota Voice is reviewing the Report of the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, in light of the upcoming November vote on Initiated Measure 11 to end most abortions in South Dakota. Pertinent sections of the report will be reviewed each week for the next several weeks which may shed light on Initiated Measure 11.
First week: The Incorrect Assumptions of the Roe v. Wade Decision
Second Week: What Has Been Learned Since the Roe v. Wade
Third Week: The Current Practice of Abortion in South Dakota
Last Week: The Experiences of Women Who Have Had Abortions
The following is from Section II.B.1 on the findings of the report: ===================================
It has been known for the past five decades that human beings are biologically made up of molecular building blocks. The development of these building blocks is controlled by genetic material known as deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) and ribonucleic acids (RNA). DNA contains genetic information, and RNA contains instructions for the synthesis of proteins.
The Task Force received a declaration prepared by Dr. David Fu-Chi Mark, who explained the modern developments in molecular biology, the information it has recently revealed, and the significance of that information. Dr. Mark is a nationally celebrated molecular biologist who has patented various polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. In 1986, Dr. Mark was given the award of Inventor of the Year, which is a single award given across all disciplines of science and technology. That particular award was given to Dr. Mark for his work in obtaining a patent for Human Recombinant Interleukin-2 Muteins, which is used to treat cancer of the kidney and skin, and is still marketed internationally. He also obtained a patent for Human Recombinant Cysteine Depleted Interferon - B Muteins, which is a drug that is used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, and is also marketed internationally. These two drugs were developed by employment of new molecular biological techniques: DNA cloning, in vitro modification of DNA, and DNA sequencing.
Dr. Mark observed that until the development of molecular biology and modern molecular biological techniques,
"most scientific knowledge concerning human identity and human development prior to birth was based solely upon gross morphological observations and biochemical studies. Over the past [twenty] years there have been extraordinary scientific, medical and technological advances and discoveries which expose the rather rudimentary level of knowledge and ignorance of science, errors of fact and judgment concerning past scientific understanding of the child's existence as a human being, the child's early development and ability to react to the child's environment and feel pain prior to birth. The new techniques developed through the exploding revolution over the past [twenty years] permits scientists to observe human existence and development at a molecular level, which is applicable in determining genetic uniqueness, genetic diseases and related information through the analysis of human genes well in advance of the old gross, anatomical observation." (Mark Declaration, P. 5, Par. 6.)
Dr. Mark described and explained in technical detail, with full citations to the relevant literature, nine of the many new major molecular biological technologies, and how they have been used to discover information about the unborn child:
1. Use of Restriction Endonuclease Enzymes: a technique discovered early in molecular biology that allowed scientists to use enzymes to cut pieces of DNA so that DNA can be manipulated in a test tube. This technique has had great practical application. (Mark P. 5-7, Par. 7A.)
2. DNA Cloning: a technique first achieved in 1974 which allows a scientist to take a portion of DNA from a single cell, reproduce it, and make copies of it, allowing for the modern study of DNA and its reproduction. It was with the advent of development of DNA cloning in 1974 that molecular biology began in 1974. (Mark, P. 7-8, Par. 7B.)
3. DNA Probe: a technology, first developed in 1979, that allows scientists to determine whether information contained in a certain gene is being expressed; study genome structure and identify sites of cytosine methylation (discussed below); and facilitate the development of DNA fingerprinting technology. (Mark, P. 8-9 Par. 7C.)
4. Southern Blot: a technique that permits the study of a single gene fragment. The importance of Southern Blot is the new ability to visualize the DNA of specific interest to the scientist, and it has led to the discovery and use of DNA fragmentation patterns visualized by Southern Blot as DNA fingerprints. DNA fingerprints, as discussed below, allows for the identification of DNA fragments both specific to the species Homo sapiens, and the specific individual member of the species. (Mark, P. 10, Par. 7D.)
5. Northern Blot: a technique that permits detection of messenger RNA (mRNA) in extremely small quantities of material. The importance of Northern Blot is the new ability of science to determine whether a specific gene is expressed in a particular tissue, which led to an understanding of the role of DNA methylation in regulating gene expression. (Mark, P. 11, Par. 7E.)
6. DNA Mapping: an important technique that allows scientists to determine if there are differences in DNA sequences, which provide science with the ability to detect abnormalities due to mutations in DNA, and to identify sites of DNA methylation. (Mark, P. 11-12, Par. 7F.)
7. DNA Fingerprinting: a technique first discovered in the mid-1980s by Alec Jeffries in Great Britain which gained wide application in the early to mid-1990s being introduced as evidence in American courts. It was learned by DNA mapping and Southern Blot analysis that the human genome contains many repetitive DNA sequences. Jeffries and his colleagues discussed in 1985 that, with the combined use of DNA mapping and Southern Blot, that a highly polymorphic DNA fragmentation pattern can be visualized. It was discovered that the highly variable DNA fragmentation patterns are characteristic of each individual human being, and the same pattern is found in all the cells of an individual. The significance of DNA fingerprinting is that it demonstrates the uniqueness of each human being, even at the first cell stage. (Mark, P.12, Par. 7G.)
8. DNA Sequencing: the currently used rapid sequencing techniques were first developed in 1997. The importance of DNA sequencing is that from the gene code, science can better understand the functioning and development of the human being, including the ability to identify potential sites for DNA methylation. It also helps science determine the difference in genes in order to identify the nature of mutations. (Mark, P. 12-14, Par. 7H.)
9. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): without PCR, DNA could not be analyzed from a single cell. The PCR technique was first invented in 1985 to rapidly amplify a segment of DNA up to a million fold from a very small amount of material. PCR greatly enhanced the ability of science to understand the uniqueness of each human being. (Mark, P. 14, Par. 7I.)
The 2005 South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion was created when the South Dakota legislature passed HB 1233 with a bipartisan majority in both houses. The purpose of the task force was "to study abortion and to provide for its composition, scope, and administration." The report was completed in December 2005 after several months of meetings.