Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stem cells, Galileo and sunsets

One of the reasons the issue of stem cell research resonates with so many people of all political persuasions and in all walks of life is that we all know someone -- a friend, relative, co-worker, fellow church member -- who could potentially benefit from the research.

Here is one story, from Michael Rosen, economics professor and union activist:

Many of you know my ex-wife Helen Robertson. Helen suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson's disease. She is now wheelchair bound.

These diseases have robbed her of the things that give life meaning. In May, she was simply too ill to attend our youngest daughter's college graduation just as she was too ill to attend senior night when our oldest daughter was honored by Ohio State University. Helen will never be able to walk her children down the aisle on their wedding day or take her grandchildren to the park. Illness forced her to retire prematurely from MATC and abandon her passion for writing and teaching. Her loss was also our students' and community's loss.

Helen's life has been destroyed by this disease. In one of her more despondent moments, she recently asked: "Why did this happen to me?" and said:" Sometimes, I think I would be better off dead."

Embryonic stem cell research, scientists believe, may provide a cure for illnesses like MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Juvenile Diabetes and spinal cord injuries.

It might be too late for this research to help Helen. Her diseases may have progressed too far too fast. But it is nothing less than immoral to oppose or limit this important research that provides so much hope to so many who have suffered so much.

The opposition to embryonic stem cell research has historic parallels. Galileo Galilei, the great Italian scientist, was called to Rome in 1633, and tried for the crime of heresy for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun. The aged Galileo, in his 70's, was taken down into the dungeons of the church and shown the instruments of torture that would used on him if he did not recant. Fearing torture, and that he might share the fate of Giordano Bruno, whom the church burned at the stake a generation earlier for the same crime, Galileo recanted. He was confined to his home under house arrest, neither allowed to leave or to receive visitors, for the last seven years of his life.

The persecution of Galileo, however, did not end with the end of his life. His heirs were refused permission to bury the great scientist in his family tomb at Santa Croce.

It wasn't until 1832 that Galileo's work was removed from the list of banned books that Catholics were forbidden to read. 200 years after the trial... and well after Sir Isaac Newton established the truth of the theory!

In 1992, Pope John Paul II formally apologized for the persecution of Galileo.

Those who oppose embryonic stem cell research are no more right or moral than those who attempted to silence Galileo centuries ago. They are extremists pure and simple. Their twenty first century inquisition against researching potential cures for debilitating diseases must be stopped.

Governor Doyle has consistently supported stem cell research (see his latest ad) and the University of Wisconsin has been a leader in the field. Nancy Reagan, whose husband, President Reagan, suffered from Alzheimer's, is a strong, proponent of embryonic stem cell research.

When you vote in November, please remember that Governor Doyle has consistently supported stem cell research and think about what has happened to Helen. If that doesn't convince you, think about an old Italian scientist named Galileo and watch the sun set. Then do the right thing.


At 12:21 AM, Blogger Troy Fullerton said...

Yes, we may all know at least one person who may, at some point way in the future, benefit from research that thus far has not produced any results...but I bet we all know a lot more people who would benefit from lower property taxes right away.

Advantage Green?

I just can't believe your polling shows this is a top three issue in this race, Xoff. Everyone I ask, nobody has this as a key issue in whom they will vote for, Republicans or Democrats.

Then again, maybe that's why they pay you to manage campaigns and they pay me to sell cell phones??

At 8:57 AM, Blogger EC Butthead said...

Troy, there were a couple of things about the WPRI poll that came out a while back that caught my attention. One was the low number of undecided voters given the high numbers of people that did not know who Mark Green even was. To me that says there are a lot of people that have decided they do not need to know who Mark Green is. They are voting for the warm body under the party label.

Another was Doyle's lead with people describing themselves as politically middle of the road. This is where staewide elections in Wisconsin are decided. I have no problem at all believing that embryonic stem cell research is a big winner with that group, both for medical and economic development reasons. This may not be the top issue, but the approve/disapprove has to be lopsided for Doyle.

I also think you are way underestimating the difficulty of selling a current member of congress to that group as fiscally responsible.


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