There’s No Substitute for the Truth

ChelseaDisabled, Stem Cell Research1 Comment

As much as it feels like it sometimes, I’m not the only one with a disability/disease who oposes the use of nascent human life for scientific research. MSNBC reports on a man with ALS with just such a principle.

ALS is a terrible, terrible disease and Mr. Jim McKevitt is in its advanced stages. Says his wife, “He’s losing ground. I can see it all the time.” And yet, he insists that he won’t take part in any experiment that “costs another life.”:

As soon as he heard that President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, (Jim) McKevitt fired off an e-mail to the president, calling him a “member of the culture of death.”

McKevitt, 71, is appalled, he said, by the groundswell of support for what he calls an immoral and “pointless” approach to pursuing cures when so many other routes such as adult stem cell research already have shown promise.

“If experimenting on just one embryo would lead to a cure for me, I absolutely would not do it. It’s murder of a human being,” McKevitt said…

“If experimenting on just one embryo would lead to a cure for me, I absolutely would not do it. It’s murder of a human being”

There are actually many of us who have disabilities or suffer terrible diseases who oppose ESCR. You just wouldn’t know it, esp. when you see news stories like this typical piece wherein the pro-ESCR side is represented by a patient with diabetes (or SCI or some other debilitating disease/condition) and the anti-ESCR side by a representative from the Family Research Council (or some other pro-life/conservative organization – who is not sick).

News stories like this always have me screaming, “NOT ALL SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE SUPPORT ESCR!” and wondering where all the patient advocates from our side are hiding. These stories frustrate me to no end as many people put their support behind this research out of sympathy for those who suffer and the general assumption, which the media perpetuates, that all of us want to explore every avenue of scientific research if there is even the slightest hope for some relief. Example: I ran into the mother of a friend of mine a few weeks ago, shortly after the President issued his stem cell research executive order. She asked, sincerely: so, are you excited about the news this week about stem cells?! No, I said. And I had to explain to her, as she then looked shocked and a little confused, that I don’t approve of destroying human embryos for research and I don’t appreciate the President rescinding an order that required funding for ethical and more effective alternatives.

This is why I try to be an alternative voice to the many sick and disabled people who are used, or use themselves, to push the pro-cloning/ESCR agenda. However, looking back now to the campaign for Amendment 2 and cloning here in Missouri in 2006, where I first got heavily involved in this issue, does have me questioning whether these pro-ESCR patient stories really do the job they’re supposed to do in garnering sympathetic support for research that destroys nascent human life in the process.

The entire pro-cloning, pro Amendment 2 campaign centered around this kind of emotional manipulation. Every news story was about cures and giving “hope” to the sick and suffering. People in wheelchairs and small children with deadly diseases were put on billboards and in campaign commercials as those who would benefit from “stem cell research” (they never dared differentiate between the different kinds of stem cell research or mention the word cloning). Besides their regular campaign commercial they also aired, a couple of times, a 30 minute infomercial on most or all network channels that detailed the lives and the hardships of a handful of patients (with diabetes, spinal cord injury, etc…) and why “stem cell research” (really, cloning/ESCR) is their only hope. And of course there was the infamous and manipulative Michael J. Fox ad for Claire McCaskill.

Yet despite this massive $30 million emotional campaign, with a little (junk) science mixed in here and there, they only managed to pull off a victory of less than two percent. In fact, in the final weeks leading up to the election they were continually losing support. Why?

It turns out emotions are no match for the truth. Although people certainly have the desire to help those who are suffering, the more people learned about the facts of the issue (whether spoken by the sick or the able) from an ethical and scientific standpoint the more they opposed the research and the idea of enshrining it as a right in our state Constitution.

Of course I am delighted when the mainstream media picks up on the fact not everyone who is sick or disabled supports research that destroys human life. I hope they do it more often and that many others with spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson’s and more will have the courage to speak out on behalf of the life in danger of being manipulated or destroyed in the name of curing people like themselves. But even if the media still leaves us out and our side of the story continues to go unheard, we can rejoice because the truth is on our side and it will win out in the end.

One Comment on “There’s No Substitute for the Truth”

  1. Thanks, Chelsea, for your witness and voice on this issue. I pray truth does indeed win over emotion.

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