Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christopher Reeve & Sarah Palin: A Father Makes a Case for Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research is an emotional and often divisive issue that I wasn’t going to raise until I came across this excellent post from Don Reed, sponsor of the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999 and founder and co-chair of Californians for Cures. The Roman Reed Act was named for his son, who at 19, broke his neck in a college football game and was paralyzed from the shoulders down.

This legislation helped created the nation's first state-funded embryonic stem cell research, and Don Reed writes: "Today, we have hope. But it would all be swept away by Sarah Palin. Embryonic stem cell research would quite literally become against the law if Sarah Palin and the GOP get their way. The official Republican platform calls for the complete prohibition of embryonic stem cell research, both public and private; even George Bush did not take such an extreme position.

"Not only paralysis cure is at risk. We are fighting for relief from cancer, which killed my mother and older sister. Embryonic stem cell research is crucial in the battle against Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke, diabetes, blindness -- and Down Syndrome. In England, where the government supports it, embryonic stem cell research led to a clearer understanding of the causes of Down Syndrome, an important step towards cure."

Reed also points out that scientists overwhelmingly support stem cell research. Just recently, inspired by Christopher Reeve's advocacy, a bipartisan bill was introduced to expand stem cell research policies. And 518 health organizations, patient advocacy groups, research universities, scientific societies, religious groups, and other interested institutions and associations supported it. On the other side, opposing the legislation, were just 17 groups -- all of them conservative religious and ideological groups. I'll list those 17 here, but for the whole list of 518, you'll need to visit Reed's blog post and scan through about 14 pages of organizations like the American Medical Association, the National Down Syndrome Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AARP, the ARC of the United States, and more, and more, and more.

17 opposed:
National Right to Life Committee
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Family Research Council
Christian Coalition
Concerned Women for America
Focus on the Family
Christian Medical Association
Eagle Forum
Traditional Values Coalition
Southern Baptist Convention
Susan B. Anthony List
Republican National Committee for Life
Cornerstone Policy Research
Culture of Life Foundation
Religious Freedom Coalition
Coral Ridge Ministries
Center For Reclaiming America

And now you can add to that list Gov. Palin, our potential vice president (who recently claimed that Sen. McCain would put her in charge of innovative research to find cures for diseases). I know this is a sensitive ethical issue -- but if we are serious about finding cures, I'm more inclined to listen to 518 expert organizations that do research and seek cures for a living rather than 17 religious/ideological organizations that want to impose their beliefs on the scientific community. What about you?
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