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Posts Tagged ‘biology’

Why do we too often go along with the crowd, even when we know it’s wrong?  Instead of voicing what we know to be true, we remain silent when we should speak up.  Is it because we’re afraid of being different?  Ridiculed? Ill-equipped to defend the truth?

Polls reveal that the majority of people don’t like abortion, but let it be a “private matter.”  Biology proves that human life begins at conception, but the majority of people resist asking the questions that help make other people think.  A national silence has denied over 53 million babies the right to life and left their mothers in denial, depression, shame, unhealthy lifestyles, and grief.

Once we have seen, however, it is difficult to un-see. Abby Johnson’s conscience wouldn’t let her deny the facts any longer. As the director of a Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic in Texas, she had seen too much. Her book, Un-Planned speaks to everyone willing to hear.  Abby is not alone.  Sue Thayer managed a PP clinic in Storm Lake, IA., about two hours from where I live, until 2008.  Her clinic was scheduled to start doing telemed abortions.  Sue voiced her concern even though, as a single parent, she was uneasy with the possibility of losing her job and the benefits and health insurance that came with it.  Sue couldn’t be silent.  So she was fired.

Sue became a PP center manager in 1991.  It was required that she and staff observe at least one day of surgical abortions.  She did just that at the Central PP Clinic in Des Moines.  During that eight hour day, the doctor performed about 30 abortions.  Some of the women were further along in their pregnancies than they had reported.  “Contents of the uterus” were placed in glass bowls, then examined under a light.  Sue explained, “One bowl clearly contained three perfect, tiny arms.  I asked why there would be a third arm.  ‘Twins’ was the response and because it might upset the mother, this information wasn’t shared.”

Sue set about trying to prevent the need for abortion during her next 17 years at PP in Storm Lake.  But, in 2008, PP of Greater Iowa announced that all PPGI clinics would be offering telemed abortions.  Sue said, “A doctor in Des Moines would be connected via webcam with a patient at any one of the PPGI’s 17 centers.  According to PPGI, this constituted a doctor’s visit.  After speaking briefly via webcam, the doctor would push a button in the Des Moines office whereupon a drawer in front of the patient at the remote center would open.  Inside the drawer were two different medicines — one to kill the baby, taken immediately at the clinic, and a second one to take later at home which would cause contractions and eventually expel the dead baby.”

Sue continued. “PPGI ordered that all staff, medical and non-medical alike would be required to do vaginal ultrasounds.  I asked what qualifications were required to perform this invasive procedure and was told that ‘if you are breathing, you can do a vaginal ultrasound’ . . . I asked if they would be notifying doctors and hospitals in each community and was told that they definitely would not be sharing any information . . . PPGI wanted to establish a ‘standard of care’ with the goal of 500 to 1000 [telemed]abortions completed before any public announcement was made.”

Telemed abortions, Sue was told, would be done through 63 days from conception. “We were all familiar with using the morning after pill (“Plan B”), but this was only given up to five days after unprotected intercourse.”  Now, patients seeking abortions wouldn’t have to drive to a surgical center.  And, no waiting. Sue was told “forty five minutes, in and out.”  She remembers one PP manager commenting, “It’s about time women can get an abortion whenever and wherever they want.  It’s no different than getting a Pap smear.”

Sue was concerened about safety — for the patient, staff, and herself.  What would the complication rate be?  Would women be alone when they took the second pill at home?  Sue continued to insist that “we were all about preventing abortions.”  Now, she was being forced to be involved in every aspect of an abortion.  There were more questions for Sue.  What about the local doctors who might have to attend to women coming in with symptoms of an incomplete abortion?  Sue’s boss explained that telemed abortion patients are told that if they do have to go to the ER, not to mention the two pills they’ve taken.

But, once you have seen, it is difficult to un-see.  The new ultrasound machines, Sue explained, “were so high-tech that even little fingers and toes could be seen.  Long time surgical staffers struggled when they would see images of the baby they were about to abort . . . [yet] this amazing image of the baby is never shown to the mother.”  Sue voiced what she knew to be wrong.  She expressed serious concerns.  She was willing to be different.  To take a risk… for life. 

There are many like Abby and Sue.  Several years ago I invited Joan Appleton,  a former abortion nurse, to tell her story during a national conference.  Joan and hundreds of soul-weary and sick-at-heart men and women like her are part of the Society of Centurians.  They left the abortion industry to speak up.  Contrast right with wrong. Today, former abortion doctors and nurses, PP employees, and women who’ve had abortions are silent no more.  They know that the truth sets people free.

The Lighthouse, a caring pregnancy center that I co-founded with two other moms, is a place where we do more than speak up.  We walk with young women in times of difficulty.  Why?  Because once we see, it is difficult to un-see.   Then, it is time to help.  Shed light into darkness.  Equip with truth.  Risk being different…. for the sake of another.   

For more information on PPGI and Sue’s story, please visit Iowa Right to Life

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Maura and Nichole don’t know about oxytocin.  But, Matt doesn’t know about vasopressin.  Women are not the only ones who bond during sexual intimacy.

Vasopressin is the neurochemical responsible for the male brain response and synaptic change.  It plays a role in regulating blood pressure and, through its influence on kidney function, regulates fluid in the body.  In relationships, vasopressin works to bond a man to a woman and create attachment to his offspring.

Vasopressin is often referred to as the “monogamy molecule.”  Why?  Because it appears to be the primary cause of a man’s attachment to a woman with whom he shares close and intimate physical contact.  The God who creates and loves life has provided a way for the human race to survive.  This “monogamy molecule” is important not just to create a bond with a woman, but with the children that come from that bond.  In the healthy and selfless bond of husband and wife, children have a greater chance of being raised by two biological parents — both of whom are attached to those children.  Such attachment provides sons and daughters with an increased chance of better health and a more hopeful future.

If Matt is physically intimate with a woman — wisely or unwisely — he can bond with her.  If Matt is unwise in his choice, the bond may lead to a long-term, but unhealthy and destructive relationship.  Bonding may tie Matt to a woman who disrespects or abuses him.  It wouldn’t be unusual for Matt to keep going back to a woman who treats him poorly and, if asked, he wouldn’t know why he does it.  Simply put, vasopressin floods a man’s brain (just like oxytocin floods a woman’s brain) and produces a partial bond with every sexual partner.

Men, like women, can become addicted to the “rush” of sexual intimacy.  But, being sexually intimate with many women places at risk the vital ability to develop a healthy, long-term attachment to one woman.  Studies show that the brain can “mold and gel” so that, in time, it begins accepting that particular sexual pattern as normal.  Such a pattern, however, “seems to interfere with the development of the neurological circuits  necessary for the long-term relationships that for most people result in stable marriages and family development.  The pattern of changing sex partners therefore seems to damage their ability to bond in a committed relationship.”  (p. 43 of Hooked by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D.)

“The inability to bond after multiple sexual encounters,” writes Drs. McIlhaney and McKissic Bush, “is almost like tape that loses its stickiness after being applied and removed multiple times.”

Matt’s brain is the most powerful sexual organ in his body.  But, in keeping with God’s design, the brain needs to be used, molded and adapted in the right ways — for life — or, with wrong behavior, parts of it will wither and die.  Perhaps, for this reason, God’s Word says in Deuteronomy 30:19-20:

I set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him . . .”

Shame on adults who tempt Matt.  Who open the gates to adventures in sex, but fail to explain his “monogamy molecule.”  Who keep from Matt God’s Word for life.  Who ignore the lesson of the sticky tape.

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Maura is “hooked,” but she has faith in the Savior of her life.  His Word is real to her.  It will speak to her conscience.  Maura also has a friend who will be honest with her and always remind her why setting boundaries and guarding body, mind and soul is healthy and hopeful.

But, Nichole has faith in the things of the world.  She doesn’t have a friend who will be honest with her.  She, too, is “hooked,” but doesn’t realize it.   Nichole, like Maura and most every other young (or older) woman, doesn’t know about neurochemicals.

Oxytocin is a neurochemical.  It is present in both male and female, but is primarily active in females.  The female body releases oxytocin at four different times.  Take note!  Each has to do with procreation and the care of children.  Oxytocin is released:

  • During meaningful or intimate touching with another person (Action: bonding and trust)
  • During sexual intercourse (Action: bonding and trust)
  • During the onset of labor in a pregnant woman (Action: causes uterine contractions, results in birth)
  • After baby’s delivery (Action: stimulates nipples and produces flow of milk from mom for nursing)

How does the human race continue?  God said that husband and wife would become “one flesh.”  Sexual intimacy results not only in the bonding of two people, but in procreation.  Oxytocin plays a vital role in the continuation of the human race.  With sexual touch, the woman’s brain is flooded with oxytocin.  She wants to be with the man she has bonded to.  Long-term connectedness often results in healthy male-female relationships.  It is actually rare for an American woman in an intact marriage to have sexual intercourse with anyone except her husband.  Such stability is affected by oxytocin.  Think of the significance.  The bonding of father and mother greatly increases the chance for a child to be raised in a healthy, two-parent home.  Such a child is blessed, not necessarily with a perfect home (do they exist?), but with a hopeful environment for becoming all God desires them to be.

The world speaks about the emotions of love.  The emotions of connectedness.  In reality, the desire to connect is more than an emotional feeling.  Bonding is like glue.  And it can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain.

Whether Maura or Nichole realize it, they are “hooked” to the men with whom they are sexually intimate.  The flow of oxytocin serves to promote trust.  Oxytocin will trigger the bonding process even if a girl hasn’t “gone all the way,” but has kissed and hugged a boy.  For this reason, if he wants to “do more,” it will become increasingly difficult for her to say “no.”  Parents!  Do you know this?  When you allow your thirteen-year-old daughter to spend long periods of time with a boy, you are placing her in serious jeopardy.  Her protective boundary of modesty and inhibition will gradually break down with each kiss, each touch, each pledge of love… even though the boy she’s with has no intention of marrying her or having children with her.

Maura’s confession to me said it all.  “. . . It’s so very strange.  The more time I spend with my boyfriend, the more I need to be with him.”  Does Nichole find herself in the same circumstance?  Before a well-meaning counselor, Planned Parenthood clinic, or parent gets her on The Pill (or whatever), do they tell her about oxytocin?  Do they explain that she’s going to be “hooked” because neurochemicals are doing what they’re supposed to do?

The cruelty is this.  Our culture removes all the boundaries.  It encourages sexual activity among boys and girls.  Then it washes its hands by saying, “We explained how to do this safely.”  But, who turns off the oxytocin?  Maura has difficulty breaking with the boyfriend who isn’t good for her because she has bonded with him.  Nichole has been in several intimate relationships.  She has “hooked up.”  Has “friends with benefits.”  All seems so casual.  So harmless.  So sophisticated.  But, oxytocin is at work.  Every time that Nichole and her “friend” break up and she moves on to a new sexual partner, a bond is being broken.  This is emotional.  Painful.  Sometimes paralyzing.

In truth, being sexually intimate with one person, breaking up, and being sexually intimate with another is like a divorce.  Repeating this cycle again and again places a girl in danger of negative emotional consequences.  Nichole doesn’t realize it, but she is acting against — actually fighting — her own body and the way she was designed to function.  Eventually, damage is done to her brain’s natural connecting or bonding mechanism.

Sexual intimacy, as Maura has discovered, is addictive.  But, she has the hope for change in God’s Word and the honesty of a friend.  What does Nichole have?  Who will speak on her behalf?  Who will guard her body?  Mind?  Soul?

(Source: Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children  by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D.)

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Maura, a young and spirited woman, invited me into her life.   She seems to welcome the experience of age and expresses the need for a “mother” figure.  Maura is intelligent.  More mature than most her age.  She has a tangible dream and works hard in college.  Maura displays all the normal feelings and emotions that come with being female.  But, there is more.  Wisdom speaks to Maura through her conscience.  The answers to my questions consistently reveal that Maura delights in all things of God… but, she is “hooked” to her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend’s words of love cause Maura to feel special.  He has demands.  She tries to please.    The warmth of his embrace encourages her loyalty.  But, his lack of commitment makes her vulnerable.  She isn’t sure how he really feels about her because his attention is easily distracted away from her.  She hopes the relationship will change.

Time passes between our visits.  We have talked at length about our identity as creations of God, so every now and then, I remind her of her value by mail or text.  Maura almost always responds with a request: “Can we get together?”  At lunch or on a walk, she brings me up to date.  She is busy with work and studies.  When the conversation turns to relationships, Maura smiles when she talks about her dad.  “I’m happy when I’m with him.  I feel safe at home.”  But, when I inquire about her boyfriend, Maura’s smile always fades.

During our last visit, Maura seemed less confident.  More sad.  She uttered not one positive or hopeful word about her boyfriend.  “So,” I asked, “why do you stay with him?”  Her shoulders drooped.  She stared past me for a few seconds.  Sighed.  Then shuttered.  “He isn’t good for me,” she confessed.  “But, it’s so very strange.  The more time I spend with my boyfriend, the more I need to be with him.”

The honesty of our friendship compelled me to take a deep breath… then look into her eyes.  “Maura, you’ve fallen into a bad habit.  You’re hooked.”  Tears that flowed were evidence of the tug-of-war for Maura’s heart.  Mind. And soul.

Maura is “hooked” not because she is uneducated, but because she is wrongly educated.  The culture has told her: “We are sexual from birth.”  (What does this mean?)   Maura is “hooked” not because she missed out on “Sex 101” but because she was encouraged at a young age to “be comfortable with” her “sexuality.”  Maura is “hooked” not because she is rebellious, but because she followed the rule: “Be responsible by practicing safe sex.”

Planned Parenthood-style sex education instructs in the act of sex, sexual fantasy, contraception, abortion, self-pleasure, gender role stereotypes, sexual diversity, HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.  Maura’s well-meaning school, counselors, and adult mentors probably followed SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) guidelines, thus believing they had provided everything Maura and her peers needed to know.

Sex education seems comprehensive, doesn’t it?  Would appear to reveal all the facts, right?  Then why is Maura, like countless other young women, in conflict with herself?  Why is her soul troubled?  Does her heart ache?  Are her thoughts confused?   Because, observe physicians, psychologists, and biologists, some vital information has been kept from Maura and her generation.  I agree.  Truth has been withheld.  That truth is: Male and female are different.

Militant feminists deny this difference.  They’ve been working feverishly to repress this difference so that women can shed their role of “helper” and, instead, compete with men.   So, everything girlish and womanly is minimized, managed, and sadly misguided.  No one informed Maura that her female brain predisposes her to yearn for love, understanding, connection, and communication.  No one informed Maura that her chemistry promotes attachment and trust of her boyfriend.  No one told Maura that her female wiring causes her to take risks by overlooking her boyfriend’s shortcomings.  Maura’s unique physiological vulnerability to intimate behavior was never explained because that would be a “gender stereotype.”

Maura knows her relationship isn’t what it should be.  As a Christian, she knows it isn’t what God desires for her.  But, even if she wasn’t a Christian, she would sense that something was wrong.  What is wrong is that educators in “sexuality” have failed girls and boys.

As a “helper,” I have promised not to fail my young friend by fooling her.  Or manipulating her.  There is one truth for Maura… and all the rest of us.  It is the truth of our design.  Divine design.  This design by God is evidenced by our anatomy.  Pure biology and scientific study.

Sure.  This messed up world complicates everything.  We may be “hooked” into harmful relationships.  But, Maura matters.  So, we are discussing a new life — unhooked and set free.  Set free to be all she was created to be.

(Recommended reading: You’re Teaching My Child What? by Miriam Grossman, M.D.)

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Is this life after The Pill?

Shirley Wang is the author of “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction — Taking Birth-Control Pills May Mask the Signals That Draw the Sexes Together, Research Shows.”  (Wall Street Journal)

Rush Limbaugh’s program of May 10, 2011, featured “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction.”  My husband happened to be listening.  I thank him for catching this… and sharing it with me.  Whatever  you may think of Rush Limbaugh, research is research.  The thing is, some of it gets shared… some of it stays hidden.  This research helps make sense of many choices, behaviors, and lifestyles that I’ve been watching or aware of as a post-pill woman.

“Much of the attraction between the sexes is chemistry.”  Not hard to swallow, eh?  Let’s continue.  “New studies suggest that when women use hormonal contraceptives, such as birth-control pills, it disrupts some of these chemical signals, affecting their attractiveness to men and women’s own preferences for romantic partners . . . Evolutionary psychologists and biologists have long been interested in factors that lead to people’s choice of mates.”

The article goes on.  “One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the T-shirt study, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men’s T-shirts.  The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors knows as pheromones.”

Continuing, “The study also showed that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women’s own immune system genes known as MHC . . . the family of genes permit a person’s body to recognize which bacteria are foreign invaders and to provide protection from those bugs.  Evolutionarily, scientists believe, children should be healthier if their parents’ MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more pathogens.  More than 92 million prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, including pills, patches and injections, were filled last year in the U.S., according to data-tracker IMS Health.  Researchers say their aim isn’t to scare or stop women from taking hormonal contraceptives.  ‘We just want to know what we’re doing’ by taking the pill, says Alexandra Alvergne, a researcher in biological anthropology at University College London in the U.K.  ‘If there is a risk it affects our romantic life and the health status of our children, we want to know.’ ”

Wang, in her article, explains that, “Both men’s and women’s preferences in mates shift when a woman is ovulating” (most often day 14 of her cycle) . . . “Some studies have tracked women’s responses to photos of different men, while other studies have interviewed women about their feelings for men over several weeks.  Among the conclusions: When women are ovulating, then tend to be drawn to men with greater facial symmetry and more signals of masculinity, such as muscle tone, a more masculine voice and dominant behaviors . . . The women also seemed to be particularly attuned to MHC-gene diversity.  From an evolutionary perspective, these signals are supposed to indicate that men are more fertile and have better genes to confer to offspring.”  (Limbaugh comments here: “All of this happens in a split second.  It’s not something that’s calculated . . . but it does dictate behavior and choices . . . .”)

Wang’s article continues, “Women tend to exhibit subtle cues when they are ovulating, and men tend to find them more attractive at this time.  ‘Women try to look more attractive, perhaps by wearing tighter or more revealing clothing,’ says Martie Haselton, a communications and psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Research on this includes studies in which photos that showed women’s clothing choices at different times of the month were shown to groups of judges.  Women also emit chemical signals that they are fertile; researchers have measured various body odors, says Dr. Haselton.  Such natural preferences get wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown.”

But, “Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation.  Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears.  And men no longer exhibit shifting interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, perhaps because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say.”

Also, “There is accumulating evidence indicating men react differently to women when they are on birth control.  A 2004 study in the journal on Behavioral Ecology used the T-shirt study.  But instead put the shirts on 81 women.  A panel of 31 men, smelling the T-shirts, experienced the greatest attraction for the non-pill-using women when they were ovulating.  Twelve women on the panel didn’t detect any difference.”  (Limbaugh comments: “Basically, if this is true, the natural selection process of a woman wanting a traditionally masculine guy when she’s ovulating goes out the window.  Nothing to do with sexual orientation here.  But this, for example, could give rise to this whole notion of the metrosexual [a man who likes to shop, is in tune with fashion and appearance], if this is true.  That’s why if all of this is true, then it changes everything we know about our lives since when the pill became profligate in 1970.)

Take it… or leave it.  Limbaugh concludes, “It’s fascinating.  Now, you couple all this with the obvious role changes that militant feminism brought on, and it could explain a lot about general unhappiness, confusion, who’s supposed to be what that both sexes seem to exhibit.”

And, finally, another thought on the impact of hormonal birth control and how it affects women and men: “When the pill was approved for use in the U.S. in 1960,” said Limbaugh, “the divorce rate was less than 10%.  Over the two decades that followed, divorce rates climbed to over 20%.  So maybe it’s harder to stick it out in a marriage if the power of attraction wanes, and if the attraction wanes because the chemicals aren’t there that make it possible, well, that would explain a lot, too.”

Fascinating, don’t you think?

Men… women… not the same.  Dare we say created to be different, yet attracted to one another as part of the design… for a purpose.  Life.  Generations to come.  Hmmm.

But, what happens when we tamper with the design?

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Did I get carried away with too many blogs about girls and wrestling?  Just when I was beginning to think so, I received a surprising e-mail from a man I’ve never met.  This gentleman (I’ll call him Bill) has a PhD in biology.   Apparently he pays close attention to any and all discussions of boys and girls on the mat.  Somehow, he found ezerwoman.

It’s important that you hear from this gentleman, not only because he agrees that “equal” does not mean “the same,” or that he encourages me to continue mentoring Biblical manhood and womanhood, but because he proves that Christians help build bridges for the benefit of the human race when we ask questions that help people think.  When we enter into dialogue on moral and ethical issues.  When we appeal to what was once called “common sense.”

This gentleman wrote,  “I am an arrant agnostic — a self-styled poet-philosopher-canary-priest-with my spiritual roots in nature.  But I could not agree more vigorously with your objections to the decadence — as in Roman — of allowing (or more accurately) of forcing boys to wrestle girls.  I have been following this issue for at least ten years.”

It was obvious that Bill had carefully studied the most physically intimate of all contact sports.  He offered many sane and sensible reasons why boy/girl wrestling is a terrible idea.  He is concerned that civilization is wounded by such foolishness.  He wrote,  “I believe in self-sacrifice for others, in kindness, in consideration for others before myself.  I remember the mantra of our YMCA boys’ camp:  God first, others second, me third.  Today, as we watch boys and girls in violent combat on wrestling mats, that mantra seems to have become ‘Me first, me second, me first.'”

Then, he really caught my attention.  “The values you mention in your blogs are simply ignored in our modern culture,” wrote Bill.   “Even as an agnostic biologist, I think your Christian values are essential to any civilization that wants to live above the animal level of material-sensual gratification.”

I thanked Bill for taking the time to write me.  He responded with a second e-mail, explaining that he had become a writer after leaving the scientific community.  But, after some time passed, he wanted to get back in touch with biologists.  For a few months, he subscribed to the blog of an evolutionist.  Bill found the site “instructional in professional matters,” but disappointing in its Christian bashing.  “Christianity was dismissed as sheer stupidity without any redeeming value.” Bill explained to me that he felt “uncomfortable in this steady current of arrogant meanness,” so he unsubscribed.  He didn’t agree with such hatred being poured upon an institution (Christianity) “that embraced all of life, from birth to death, from reason to faith, from beauty and goodness to ugliness and evil.”

Then, wrote Bill, “this wrestling incident occurred, and because the young man cited his Christian faith, it catapulted the small, cloistered world of wrestling into the national spotlight and presented to view the grotesque, distorted values that have evolved there.  It seems like a microcosm of society at large and the moral decadence we have enshrined as moral good.  And against all this, the best aspects of Christianity began to emerge from the smoke — the dignity, the calm, the pure, measured decency of 2000 years of Christian ‘evolution’ (can’t help myself!).  Anyhow, just wanted to express this to you.”

Thank you,  Bill.   You remind me that Christianity is needed in this hurting world as much today as yesterday.  I’m so sorry that we Christians do such a poor job of following Jesus Christ and are more easily influenced by false teachings.

But, I am encouraged to stay the course by a secular biologist who sees that good and evil, right and wrong, morality and decadence really do exist.  Each rises from a core belief.  Each has a consequence.

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