Senator John Kerry wasted no time to subvert and use the death of President Reagan to start hawking stem-cell research. In his weekly radio address:
Yesterday, we said goodbye to President Ronald Reagan.
For his children and his friends, and most of all, for his courageous wife Nancy, this painful goodbye began almost ten years ago, with the diagnosis of a disease that took Ronald Reagan away before it took his life.
There is a moment after you get the call from a doctor that you or a loved one must face a disease like Alzheimer’s where you decide that it can’t mean the end – that you won’t let it. So in our own way, we become researchers and scientists. We become advocates and friends, and we reach for a cure that cannot – that must not – be too far away.
Some call this denial. But I’m sure that Nancy Reagan – the wife of an eternal optimist – calls it hope.
She told the world that Alzheimer’s had taken her own husband to a distant place, and then she stood up to help find a breakthrough that someday will spare other husbands, wives, children and parents from the same kind of heartache.
Millions share this hope, and it is because of their commitment that stem cell research has brought us closer to finding ways to treat Alzheimer’s and many other diseases.
In a recent article by a stem-cell researcher we heard the opposite.
“I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer’s brains by putting in stem cells is small,” said stem cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, echoing many other experts. “I personally think we’re going to get other therapies for Alzheimer’s a lot sooner.”
Today, more than 100 million Americans have illnesses that one day could be cured or treated with stem-cell therapy. Stem cells could replace damaged heart cells or cells destroyed by cancer, offering a new lease on life to those suffering from diseases that once came with a certain death sentence. Stem cells have the power to slow the loss of a grandmother’s memory, calm the hand of an uncle with Parkinson’s, save a child from a lifetime of daily insulin shots, or permanently lift a best friend from his wheelchair.
Chances are that you love someone with such a disease. You may be that someone. So what can we do to make sure that doctors and scientists keep learning, keep discovering, and keep researching stem cells so that the incredible potential for discovery becomes a reality in people’s lives?
We must lift the barriers that stand in the way of science and push the boundaries of medical exploration so that researchers can find the cures that are there, if only they are allowed to look. We can do this while providing strict ethical oversight.
His whole radio address is deeply dishonest. Not one time does he make the necessary distinction between embryonic and adult stem- cells. There are zero barriers for working with adult stem-cells. Researches are not prohibited in any way by using the more promising research into adult stem-cells. Currently there is only a federal ban on scientists from doing research on embryonic stem-cells other then those lines that already exist. Unfortunately there are hardly any limits on research on embryonic stem-cells by private researchers. The barriers he wants lifted are the ones currently protecting human life. He uses the words “allowed to look” and reality translates that to embryo farms where humans are experimented on and die in the process of “looking.”
We must make the funding of stem cell research a priority in our universities and our medical community. And we must secure more funding for it at agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Above all, we must look to the future not with fear, but with the hope and the faith that advances in medicine will advance our best values. America has always been a land of discovery – of distant horizons and unconquered frontiers. But progress has always brought with it ethical concerns that this time we have gone too far. Believe it or not, there was a time when some questioned the morality of heart transplants. Not too long ago, we heard the same kind of arguments against the biotechnology research that now saves stroke victims and those with leukemia.
To compare heart transplants to the use of embryonic stem-cells is a ridiculous example. Sure some people initially had problems with the idea of organ transplants, but the Catholic Church has no problem with transplants in most circumstances. The only problem arises when organs are harvested prior to a person dying. Because of the short time-period some organs can be used doctors are tempted to remove organs prior to death. For embryonic stem-cells they take live human embryos and then destroy (murder) them when they remove the stem-cells. This is the moral equivalent of harvesting organs from healthy children. There is no difference between raising children for the purposes of an organ harvest and taking human embryos and harvesting them for stem-cells. Unfortunately this is what we have come to expect from John “My faith is important to me” Kerry.
I know there are ethical issues, but people of goodwill and good sense can resolve them. For I also know the fear that most Americans feel at some point – the fear of a diagnosis that may take our life or sentence us to a diminished life.
This is part of modern alchemist word-smithing. Transform the word morality to ethics and before long you can easily dismiss any qualms.
In the past few years, I have seen cancer and stroke take my own parents. Last year, because of the remarkable medical advances we have made, I was cured of prostate cancer. Now everywhere I go in America, people come up to me and tell me about their struggle with illness or the bravery of family members who faces it. They share their worries, but they also believe that this is a country of the future, a can-do country.
The medical discoveries that come from stem cell are crucial next steps in humanity’s uphill climb. And part of this nation’s greatness lies in the fact that we have led the world in great medical discoveries, with our breakthroughs and our beliefs going hand-in-hand.
If we pursue the limitless potential of our science – and trust that we can use it wisely – we will save millions of lives and earn the gratitude of future generations.
Except the generation of lives offered on the altars of unrestrained science. It is hard to find gratitude at the sharp end of a scalpel coming to kill you.
That John Kerry takes this position unfortunately does not put him in the minority. Recently a letter signed by 56 or 57 senators (reporting varied) asked President Bush to ease stem-cell research restrictions. We have come to expect the abortion-as-sacrament political party to ignore life at conception. Senators Trent Lott , Orrin G. Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison and 10 other Republicans also signed this letter. This is consistent for Hatch but previously pro-life Senators like Trent Lott and Kay Bailey Hutchison and other should be ashamed of themselves.