With only 29 days left until Election Day, democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and actor-turned-activist Michael J. Fox discussed the issue of stem cell research with an enthusiastic crowd Monday morning at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H.
In August of 2001 President Bush announced that the federal government would only support restricted study of stem cells. This allowed for 60 stem cell lines to be researched, many of which Kerry and Fox said are either useless or tainted. Advocates of stem cell research believe that conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and spinal cord injury, among others, could be aided or cured through stem cell therapy.
Kerry, who promised at least $100 million dollars of federal funding a year toward stem cell research, said, “President Bush just doesn’t get it. Faced with the facts, he just turns away. Time and time again, he’s proven that he’s stubborn, out of touch, and unwilling to change.”
Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s, said that President Bush, “gave us a car with no gas and then congratulated himself for giving us the car. Instead of leading the world with our research, we’re following it.”
Over 100 million Americans and over 600,000 New Hampshire residents who suffer from a variety of diseases could potentially benefit from stem cell research, according to the Kerry campaign.
One of those 600,000 is the son of Steve Walter, of Londonderry. Walter voted for President Bush in 2000 but his seven-year-old son Alex has made him a Kerry supporter. Alex has type I diabetes and endures over 12 needle pricks and five insulin shots a day. Walter believes stem cell therapy could help his son Alex, who has developed scar tissue under his stomach and triceps and is susceptible to blindness, nerve damage and stroke, all of which are side effects of diabetes. Walter said, “President Bush is being morally irresponsible [and is showing] total disregard for human life.”
According to a Harris Interactive Poll taken in August, 73 percent of Americans support stem cell research.
Kerry bolstered his stance by citing backing by Nobel Prize winners, scientists and many U.S. senators, including Republican John McCain. Kerry told the crowd that America has always been known for searching and finding medical breakthroughs yet, “now we stand at the edge of the next great frontier-but instead of leading the way, we’re stuck on the sidelines. This president is making the wrong choice to sacrifice science for extreme right-wing ideology.”
Martha Fuller Clark, a long time New Hampshire house representative running for state senate, said, “Kerry was outstanding and inspirational. He was clear about the choice Americans and students have.”
Louise Testa of North Hampton said that she is “living and dying of Parkinson’s and today Michael J. Fox and John Kerry gave me hope.”
By Jessica Fish
Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2004