News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2006


Hartselle twins reminder stem-cell research needed

Three-year-old Hartselle twins Conner and Carson Lovelady are a delight.

Their parents, Chris and Stephanie, love them. In a perfect world, they would be destined for happy lives. In our imperfect world, however, they are destined for a great deal of frustration and sadness.

Conner and Carson have merosin-negative congenital muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes muscle weakness in infancy. Because of a genetic defect, they lack the muscle protein merosin. Will they ever be able to walk? Will their heart muscles fail?

Their parents do not know.

Is there a cure? No. Are we doing all we can to find one? No.

Muscular dystrophy is one of many diseases that scientists believe might be treatable if they had unfettered access to embryonic stem cells for medical research.

Sue Richardson, 76, has Parkinson's disease. In the last decade, she has watched a slight tremor in one hand turn into a debilitating tremor in both hands and both legs. With painful self-awareness, she has been a helpless bystander as she watches her ability to perform the easiest tasks disappear. She takes every medication available, but she continues to deteriorate. She desperately schedules as much time with her children and grandchildren as she can, knowing that she quickly is running out of time to interact with them.

Is there a cure? No. Are we doing all we can to find one? No.

President Bush's executive order, in 2001, denying federal funding to scientists testing new strains of embryonic stem cells, leave Conner, Carson and Sue hopeless. Sue knows the difficult future she faces; Conner and Carson one day will know as well.

There is a temptation to view the issue of stem-cell research as a single issue. Shall we, or shall we not?

It is not one issue, though. It is a life-defining issue for Conner and for Carson and for Sue, and for millions of others who now or in the future might benefit from the advances that could come from aggressive research of stem cells. A single decision by President Bush has devastating consequences for those living and for those not yet born.

God is comfortably in control of his creation. If he has permitted humans to develop the knowledge needed to ease human suffering, why would the president withhold it?

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