A questioner at the second presidential debate raised an important, though misguidedly phrased question about stem cell research: she asked Kerry why he isn’t satisfied with Bush’s ham-fisted compromise which only alows scientists to use a few lines of adult stem cells for their research. Kerry gave a comprehensive and convincing answer in which he invoked Christopher Reeve, who died yesterday (Christopher Reeve, ‘Superman’ and Crusader for Stem Cells, Dies):
Christopher Reeve at 1996 Democratic National Convention, a lone individual who fought for a huge cause (credit: Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)
“Like Nancy Reagan and so many other people – you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire, who’s suffering from Parkinson’s. And he wants us to do stem cell, embryonic stem cell. And this fellow stood up and he was quivering. His whole body was shaking from the nerve disease, the muscular disease that he had. And he said to me and to the whole hall, he said, you know, don’t take away my hope because my hope is what keeps me going.
Chris Reeves is a friend of mine. Chris Reeves exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again. And I want him to walk again.”
In light of Reeve’s sad and untimely death, I hope that Kerry manages to work a tribute to Reeve into the upcoming debate. Also, if (or dare I say ‘when?’) Kerry becomes President, I’d like to see a future stem cell research bill (one that would permit the use of embryonic stem cells) carry the name of Christopher Reeve. Even better, how about the Reeve-Reagan Stem Cells for Life Act? I think it would be a fitting tribute to two individuals and future illness victims whose lives might’ve been shortened because George Bush believes in putting politics and so-called morality ahead of science.