— The recent public bashing of Michael J. Fox by extremist Rush Limbaugh has stirred up the debate of stem cell research. In recent news, Rush Limbaugh has been quoted as saying that while filming a political ad in favor of stem cell research, Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, went off of his medication and even acted to gain political support. In a rebuttal, Fox denied the accusations and stated that he actually was over-medicated during the taping of the commercial. Fox also explained that the jerking motions that go along with Parkinson’s are not easily predicted and that in some cases other circumstances can be attributed to the symptoms of uncontrollable movements.
Even though Fox did not go off his medicine for the taping, I say, “So what!” Even if he did not take his regimen of medicine, he displayed the symptoms of Parkinson’s. This is who he is. These are the symptoms that he and many others deal with day in and day out. I am sure that his recent ad was hard for extremists such as Limbaugh to watch because these people are sitting back and not doing anything. Furthermore, they are against the people who are trying to do something.
The debate over stem cell research, which could possibly contribute to cures of many conditions such as Parkinson’s and spinal cord injury, is being tied into issues such as abortion and cloning. The comparison between these issues begins when methods of how to go about stem cell research are discussed. Scientists would like to extract a single stem cell from a viable embryo. This opens a can of worms for people who believe that life begins at conception. Maybe it does. I am not sure, but when I compare the life of a frozen embryo, in a test tube, not living or breathing and not able to grow without the assistance of humans, to a young man such as Fox who is living, breathing, working, raising a family and surrounded by loved ones, I have to choose the life of the latter as the most important.
When a couple goes to a fertility specialist they usually harvest up to 30 embryos. In most cases they use an average of 10. This leaves an excess, an average of 20 embryos which, in most cases, are stored for a few months and then discarded. I ask you, “What is the difference?” Use these embryos for valuable research or throw them away?
Finally, when it comes to people like Mr. Limbaugh, I guarantee that if their family member or they themselves were forced to live with a condition such as Parkinson’s or spinal cord injury, they would change their tune very quickly. Also, I am certain that Mr. Limbaugh would use his platform to his advantage in this case. The conditions that I have spoken of are not limitless. These diseases can affect any of us at any time in our lives. We are not immune to them. So in closing we need to ask ourselves what explanation would we want to hear if one of our loved ones or ourselves were diagnosed? Would you want to be told that there is nothing that can be done and you will just have to live with it, or would you want to hear that every possible avenue for a cure is being explored and hopefully one will be found.
Robbyn G. Hill, Carpendale, W.Va.