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Friday, June 25, 2004

Ellen Goodman’s at it again (only this time, someone else calls it a "fairy tale"):" “[Embryonic] stem cells may not be an instant ‘cure’ for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's or diabetes. But as Nancy Reagan said, ‘I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this....We have lost so much time already and I just really can't bear to lose any more.’

“This is the final one to win for the Gipper. And his widow.”

I have the greatest respect for Nancy Reagan and sent her a long condolence letter. In it, I described my delight at having seen the President and taken his photo with my dinky little "pocket-110" camera from ten feet away at a 1981 American Irish Historical Society black-tie affair, for which Reagan interrupted his conversation up there at the dais table to pose just for me.

Nancy has been through hell and back out of her great love for “Ronnie” but I do believe that in her grief over this past ten years, she has missed something for which her husband adamantly stood.

So did The Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman. All she and her “fact-checkers” had to do——again——was to read a little bit. Two weeks ago,
The Washington Post
(may require free registration; another post of the article is here.) quoted ES cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center, when The Post reported that "of all the diseases that may someday be cured by ES cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit."

The Post
, along with this article and this article, also quoted Ronald D.G. McKay, an ES cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, as saying, "People need a fairy tale. Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand."

In my local paper, a letter to the editor this week said, "To the handful of those who feel that ES cell research is linked to abortion, I pray Alzheimer’s disease never strikes anyone you love and hold dear. But should it silently attack anyone in your family, you would beg for a cure...Ask yourself if you could live with yourself knowing that your opposition to [embryonic] stem cell research might take away the person you love. Your heart knows the truth and you must follow your heart."

The writer supported such research for Alzheimer’s and cancer, and seemed to agree that because President Reagan could have benefitted from ES cell research for Alzheimer's, Reagan too might have supported it, unlike the "heartless" President G.W. Bush.

My mother died of cancer. I remember being given the "fairy tale" of "monoclonal antibodies" holding out a cure for her cancer——just not in time for her. But my heart does know the truth——that ES cell research ends lives of all human persons that are every embryo——so yes, I could live with myself knowing that I hadn’t supported ending another’s life just to save my mom. In no instance would I "beg for [such] a cure", much as I’d love having my mom back——and, for that matter, my brother who died during a grand-mal epileptic seizure.

Neither would President Reagan beg, as he said in his own words: "There is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning."

"No cause more important," not even his own.

In Reagan’s essay, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation," he also wrote: "Every legislator, every doctor, and every citizen needs to recognize that the real issue is whether to affirm and protect the sanctity of all human life, or to embrace a social ethic where some human lives are valued and others are not…We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life – the unborn – without diminishing the value of all human life."

I wonder, does everyone know that embryos destroyed in ES cell research and in fertility treatments are human persons? The discoverer of the Down's Syndrome chromosome pattern, Dr. Jerome LeJeune, Genetics Professor at Paris’ University of Descartes, does. He testified under oath at an April 1981 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the question, "When does human life begin?", saying, "To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence."

Several other scientists testified also. Dr. Landrum Shettles, discoverer of male- and female- producing sperm and in-vitro fertilization pioneer, said: "I accept what is biologically manifest——that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances."

Adult stem (AS) and cord-blood stem cells successfully have treated leukemia, anemia and lymphoma and have restored dead heart- and spinal cord- tissues. Over 3,500 transplants worldwide from these cells culled from the pancreas, muscles, corneas, bone marrow and neurons have proven effective. ES cells have not.

I believe that those of us who oppose ES cell research number in the millions and do not "feel" that ES cell research is "linked to abortion." It is an abortion, in that each embryo is "prematurely terminated."

Ellen Goodman even could have checked with Reagan’s own son, who is a board member of the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation.

President Ronald Reagan publicly supported the protection by law of the right to life of all persons, including the unborn. I don't believe he could ever have been so selfish as to condone the deliberate fertilization and destruction of others just so he could enjoy his last ten years or those of his loved ones.

When my local paper printed two letters——mine and another letter also calling Ellen Goodman to task for this same thing——the paper chose to put this headline in bold large type over both letters:

"The human embryo is not a guinea pig."

Wish I'd thought of writing that.

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