WEEK IN READVIEW: Huntsman drops out, Miss America and politics, and fetomaternal microchimerism

Amanda Read's weekly brief review of current events-Huntsman steps down, Miss America political?, and  fetomaternal michrochimerism Photo: Associated Press

This is Amanda Read’s weekly brief review of current events.

OHATCHEE, Al. January 15, 2012 —Soon to endorse Romney?  Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (R-UT) has left the 2012 primary race after failing to win New Hampshire or even overtake Ron Paul (R-TX) in the final results. The former U.S. Ambassador to China and governor of Utah is expected to endorse Mitt Romney (R-MA).

The New Hampshire primary on January 10th followed the weekend ABC presidential debate, which was memorable for some quirks - particularly moderator George Stephanopoulous’ question about whether or not the Constitution prevents states from banning contraception. (Now try to imagine questioning the likes of James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson…”Sirs, is contraception an unalienable right?”)

Coming up next in the primary schedule is South Carolina’s primary on January 21st.

Should Miss America declare her political views?  On January 14th, Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America 2012. During the pageant, 23-year-old Kaeppeler was asked whether or not Miss America should express her political views (watch the scene here). “Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well,” she replied, “And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all.”

It was an aptly diplomatic response, considering that the stunning brunette and opera singer comes from a state that has been embroiled in political conflict lately.

Politics was also brought into the Miss America arena last year when then 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan was asked on stage about WikiLeaks. Scanlan, who was homeschooled most of her life and is an unashamed Christian and conservative, was also questioned by judge Joy Behar in the interview portion of the competition: Would you vote for an atheist? Scanlan handled the test deftly and won the crown.

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska crowns Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler of Wisconsin. (Photo from Miss America Organization Facebook page)

Kaeppeler’s platform is mentoring children of incarcerated parents. Kaeppeler is apparently an outspoken Christian, which led a reporter to awkwardly quip, “and tonight I think the Good Lord was more with you - or Miss America - than He was with Tim Tebow,” referencing the Broncos’ loss to the Patriots during the NFL playoffs the same evening.

Among the Miss America judges this year was dancer Mark Ballas, who was Bristol Palin’s partner on Dancing With the Stars in 2010.

Are there really such things as fetal cells that benefit mothers?  Recently an interesting scientific claim has gone viral in pro-life circles. On January 4th, LifeSite News reported that “far from being a parasite, the unborn child can help heal his mother for the rest of her life, as beneficial cells from the child pass into the mother’s body during pregnancy”. The article mentions that these fetal cells enter the mother via the placenta and can remain in a woman’s body for years, serving as a powerful aid to healing tissue damaged by disease.

I wasn’t entirely sure whether this was legitimate or wishful science, but it sounded quite interesting, so I posted it on Facebook. Thankfully I was contacted by Jay L. Wile, an acquaintaince of mine who is a nuclear chemist and science educator and keeps up with the latest science journals.

Wile was immediately skeptical of the story because he assumed that the mother’s body would reject the baby’s cells as foreign entities - if they even broke the barrier of the placenta in the first place. It made me wonder if perhaps it was science journalism lingo adding to the confusion (i.e. maybe wasn’t actually cells per se that were being discovered).

“Well…it turns out that I was dead wrong,” Wile later wrote on his blog after doing some research. “When I actually looked into the story, I found that while the story was a bit biased, the fact is that a baby’s cells do, indeed, cross the placenta,” he explains, “and they do, indeed, stay with the mother for a long, long time. In addition, the mother’s cells cross the placenta and stay with the baby for a long, long time. This phenomenon is called fetomaternal microchimerism, and believe it or not, scientists have known about for quite some time…

“…How do these cells escape the mother’s immune system? We don’t know. All we know is that the placenta is not a physical barrier to at least some of the baby’s cells. It is not a barrier to the mother’s cells, either. In fact, one study found the cells of a mother in her child 49 years after the child was born. During pregnancy, then, the baby sends some cells to the mother, and the mother sends some cells to the baby. Those cells take up residence and produce a lineage that can last for more than a generation. Interestingly enough, one study indicates that fetal cells do not last nearly as long in mothers who have experienced an abortion (spontaneous or induced).”

Wile has come across reports from some scientists who think that the fetal cells have negative effects, other scientists who think that the fetal cells have positive effects, and still other scientists who think the fetal cells have no effect at all (continue reading his article for more details).

Well, that’s the raw science for you, folks. It’s confusing and time consuming, but it will be fascinating to see what is discovered next!


Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.

Keep up with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmandaChristineRead and Twitter:

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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com

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