The Washington Post reported on Rush Limbaugh’s outrageous attack on Michael J. Fox for political ads backing candidates who support stem cell research. Mr. Fox suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, one of many terrible ailments that stem cell research may help cure. Mr. Limbaugh accused him of faking his symptoms and not taking his medication to increase the impact of the ads. This is an appalling lack of sensitivity for a person dealing with a serious illness. I’ve listened to Mr. Limbaugh’s show since I was a child, though I generally disagree with his views on social policy I find it interesting to hear the conservative side of political issues. I’m curious if he would similarly attack Nancy Reagan for her pro-stem cell research stance.
While I can respect that conscientious people may place higher value on the life of a few cells that are about to be thrown in the garbage over the suffering of fully formed adults with terrible diseases, I must respectfully point out that they are kind of being asshats. Seriously, this is not about abortion or right to life or pro choice. Nobody wants to take your baby and kill it to save someone else. We are talking about using barely formed embryos that are the waste product resulting from artificial insemination procedures where too many embryos were created. They are essentially garbage. They will NEVER become human beings. Those cells can either die a useless death or they can be put to good use saving millions of real, living people from needless suffering and death.
Most scientists claim that embryonic stem cells are the best hope for saving people like Mr. Fox who are suffering. How anyone can argue that discarded cells are more important than fully formed human beings dying slow, painful, wasting deaths from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases is beyond my ken. I support the use of discarded embryos for research because it is our best prospect to save real people. I support politicians who will fight bans on stem cell research or funding of that research. My Grandpa McIntyre died with Alzheimer’s and it pains me to think that other people have to go through what my Mom and the rest of the family did in watching him lose his memory and die. Mr. Fox, Ronald Reagan, my Grandpa, and everyone else who is or was suffering from potentially curable diseases all deserve more regard than discarded embryos from a fertility clinic. Mr. Limbaugh, President Bush, and other opponents of stem cell research are wrong.
Michael Kinsley of Slate writes a compelling piece regarding the morality and logic of opposing the use of leftover embryos from fertility clinics. He is more eloquent than I am on the topic.
Garry Trudeau’s April 4, 2006 Doonesbury strip helps to illustrate what I see as the out of whack priorities that President Bush has when it comes to preserving human life.