Foxy Ads for Democrats

Written by Drew on October 30th, 2006

Michael J. Fox has caused quite a stir this election season by making a powerful appearance in TV ads for three Democrats running for a Senate seat in the states of Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The ads are heartbreaking for those of us who grew up watching Fox’s television shows and movies. The actor had to retire from full-time acting in 2000 due to Parkinson’s Disease. In the ads he sways uncontrollably to and fro, a sign that the ravages of the disease are slowly taking over his body.

Rush Limbaugh angered millions of Americans after he criticized the ads as exploitive and said Fox was “either off his medication or acting.” Fox has responded saying he was not off his medication but, rather, over-medicated, which explains why his symptoms appeared worse than usual. As it turns out, Parkinson’s is a difficult disease to regulate. Sufferers have better days and worse days. The Senate ads were evidently filmed on one of Fox’s bad days.

But is Limbaugh’s charge of exploitation wrong? If Democrats are not exploiting a victim to rally voters to their side, what are they doing? Why not feature a medical doctor in the ads instead of an actor? Wouldn’t a health-care professional make a better spokesman?

A health-care professional might have been more accurate in his portrayal of embryonic stem cell research’s potential. One of the Democratic ads featuring Fox claims,

Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s…. But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.

These statements are patently false. First of all, no legislation exists on the federal level prohibiting stem cell research of any kind. States are allowed to fund the research using tax dollars, and, of course, private funding is also legal. The only limits the U.S. government is placing on the research is on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. In fact, last year President Bush approved a bill that provided federal funding for adult stem cell research, which has shown some promise in the last few years.

Secondly, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever indicating that embryonic stem cell research offers hope to Americans suffering from Parkinson’s or any other disease. In an article entitled, “The Unconscionable Claims of Michael J. Fox,” obstetrician and gynecologist Mary L. Davenport writes,

The plain fact is that embryonic stem cell research is proving to be a bust. There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells. Scientifically-minded readers can review this medical journal article on the status of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapies are already being advertised and promoted while no such treatments are even remotely in prospect for embryonic stem cell research.

The fact is that adult stem cells have already produced remarkable cures, whereas embryonic stem cells have failed. This should come as no great surprise to anyone with a background in high school biology. When an embryo is created by the union of the sperm and egg, the cells begin to divide, creating embryonic stem cells from which all future tissues and organs are derived. Within days, the embryonic cells differentiate into three cell layers Â? ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Cells in these layers continue to differentiate into tissues and organs. As the embryo matures into a fetus, child, and adult, some undifferentiated cells of the three types remain in various tissues such as bone marrow, fat, skin and olfactory tissue.

These adult stem cells are multipotent: they have the ability to turn into a variety of types of tissues. Successful stem cell therapies cause the DNA in the adult stem cells to further differentiate into more specific types of cells. There is no point in getting the adult stem cell to turn into a less differentiated type of cell, or using the more primitive embryonic stem cells. This would be going backward, in the opposite direction of providing a clinically useful therapy. Difficulties abound with proposed embryonic stem cell therapies. The growth of the more primitive embryonic stem cells is more difficult to control and leads to tumor formation. Recent research suggests brain tumors may result. Additionally, the use of embryonic tissue foreign to the patient can potentially lead to problems with immune rejection of tissue, a problem not encountered in using a patientÂ?s own adult stem cells.

If adult stem cell research shows more promise, why aren’t the Democrats talking about it more? The truth is, embryonic stem cell research is part of a larger debate involving abortion. Democrats know that if we determine that embryonic stem cell research is unethical, we are on our way to overturning Roe v. Wade.

An embryo is nothing less than human life at a very early stage. That being the case, experimentation leading to the destruction of human embryos is murder, no matter what the research may promise.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Scott says:

    Thank you for providing the truth on this very important subject. Your readers might also check out the book “The Party of Death.” It has some great information on this subject as well as abortion and euthanasia.

  2. Chris says:

    I don’t know. Your points about stem-cell research are well taken. But whatever one believes about stem-cell research (I don’t think it’s a good idea myself), what Limbaugh said was in extremely poor taste. Disagreement on a particular political/moral issue doesn’t excuse him from acting like a decent human being. Period.

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