Yesterday I had news for Nancy Reagan. Now it’s Fox’s turn. As a well known public figure with Parkinson’s Disease, Michael J. Fox made himself quite the spokesman for research that requires the creation, use and destruction of human life as a means of finding cures for diseases such as his own. No doubt he was excited to hear that some mice were successfully treated for Parkinson’s with embryonic stem cells derived from cloned mice embryos as this seems to be the research that is nearest and dearest to his heart. But is he also aware that human Parkinson’s patients have been treated in a clinical trial with bone marrow stem cells from their own bodies? From the story (h/t Don Margolis):
To date, Dr. Armestar’s team has implanted stem cells in 15 women and 32 men. The average age of the patients was about 50 years; Parkinson’s disease had been diagnosed from 1 year to 18 years before implantation.
At the 1-week follow-up, 39 patients had achieved a 35% improvement as assessed by a battery of Parkinson’s disease validated tests. At the 1-month follow-up, 34 patients showed a 52% improvement. At 3 months, 23 patients had improved an average of 59%; at 6 months, 6 patients had improved 76%; after 12 months the 1 person to reach that level had achieved an 80% improvement (P < .001), he said.
In a political ad two years ago Fox showed Missouri voters the dramatic effects of his disease while asserting that a man who is an steadfast and enthusiastic supporter of the kind of ethical and effective research mentioned above is an opponent of stem cell research who doesn’t share Fox’s “hope for cures”.
As a disabled person, I can sympathize with Michael J. Fox and others who honestly believe in cloning/ESC research and want to finally end the lasting effects of some of the most deadly diseases and crippling disabilities. But high expectations and good intentions do not justify the creation of life for experimentation or destruction.
The truth is, those of us who oppose the manufacture, use and destruction of human life, even to treat disease, are not against science, research or the finding of cures. In fact, we so desire scientific progress that truly benefits mankind that we reject any action that violates the dignity of human life in favor of more ethical and effective alternatives. For technical progress must be guided by clear ethical and moral standards in order to truly be considered an improvement and not a threat to the future of mankind. And guess what? If this were a game to keep score of, ASCs would be winning!