Bitter, Angry, Dying

I came across this letter to the Illinois Leader today, similar to many I've seen before on the topic of anti-research legislation. I thought I'd share:

Pro-life flat Earth thinkers lack compassion

The more people know about SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) or therapeutic cloning, the more likely they are to support it. But anti-abortionists ["STANEK: It's a mad, mad, mad, mad embryonic kill bill," May 4] want you to think a blastocyst or a few pluripotent cells, invisible to the naked eye, are a human being. Even an unfertilized egg with one's own DNA qualifies and probably individual sperm as well.

I think they want to bestow civil rights on cells so it will be easier to overturn Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, while the stall regarding stem cell research stymies progress, I am slowly becoming Christopher Reeve with my Parkinson's Disease, albeit alone and without his financial resources. Does my life count for anything? Apparently not. It's just my tough luck.

When I had ovarian cancer at age 43, I was not bitter or angry--after all, everything was done that could be done. But not so with this emergence of anti-science flat earth thinkers which include the President and his minions.

This is a real crime against humanity by the ignorant, non-compassionate people in power.

Rayilyn Brown
Murrieta, California

People with incurable, fatal diseases are justifiably angry at what is being done to them by the current US administration and anti-research pressure groups elsewhere. We have lost five years of progress in regenerative medicine and stem cell based cures already - and the cost of these delays in human life and suffering is staggering.

Those of us lucky enough not to be suffering from heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, or other degenerative diseases - those of us lucky enough to have health and remaining life measured in decades rather than months or years - should take a long hard look at why we are not participating more fully in the battles over research. After all, we all suffer from a fatal condition called aging. It will kill us all if medical research is blocked. The only difference between us and people like the author of the letter above is time, a few extra years before we are in her shoes. If compassion and altruism are not enough to motivate us, then self-interest must be - or we are all doomed to suffer, grow sick, crippled, and die.

We can do better.


I read the newspaper article where some bioethicist were commenting about the conventional life cycle. That is like an arc where you go up, are in the middle for a while, then start to come down.

What assumes me about these morons is that we want immortality because we view the life "arc" as a sort of imprisonment and seek to get free of it. These bioethicists seem to not "get it".

Is this because they lack the imagination of the greatly expanded life options that come from breaking free from this life arc, or are they aware of this and are actively hostile to it?

Any comments?

Posted by: Kurt at May 6th, 2004 3:22 PM

Well, it does seem to come down to the difference between people who are happy with the idea of dying, and those who are not. I don't see healthy life extension as any sort of escape process - but then bioethics has a lot in common with theology and social studies. You can pretty much say whatever you like since the field of the debate has been - quite deliberately - moved away from anything to do with facts or provable assertions.

Posted by: Reason at May 6th, 2004 5:09 PM

I am Rayilyn Brown and just found this after looking for myself on the Web.

Some people think we(the ill) are against death. Not so, I am against an existence that has robbed me of my life. I'll be glad to die, and you might be too if you were in my condition.

Posted by: Rayilyn Brown at June 13th, 2004 5:09 PM

That is a fair enough comment Rayilyn: I should have said "MOST people with incurable, fatal diseases are justifably angry..."

You should give some thought to cryonics:

You certainly don't have anything to lose by doing so.

Posted by: Reason at June 13th, 2004 5:14 PM

I hope you saw "Saving Millie"- 17 years of suffering. This is a quality of life question not just aging and suddenly dying or a desire to live forever
Also, Parkinson's isn't an old person's disease anymore. MJFox was 30 when diagnosed.

Posted by: Rayilyn Brown at March 15th, 2005 9:25 PM

I'm degreed in zoology and I'd like to point out ...

1) Cloning is unlikely in people ... it doesn't work in other primates and highly unlikely it ever will.

2) Cloning requires eggs. Ex. Over 2200 were wasted in the cloning scandal. Harvesting eggs has serious consequences to the donor ... including death. Women shouldn't die for man's folly.

3) All clones have something wrong with them. The genes are OK - reading/applying that information is screwed up. What goes wrong is random - hardly a good choice for therapies.

4) Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) form tumors in 70% of the subjects who receive them from their own species. Most subjects die from tumors - again, hardly a good choice for therapies.

5) ESC 'therapies' are generations away and would be more invasive than other stem cell treatments (ASCs for brevity)

6) ASCs have already put people in remission for diabetes, MS, lupus, crohn's, Parkinsons, bubble boy, sickle cell, and more. In just 2 weeks ASC studies show: 84% of diabetics off insulin. 50% of severe lupus patients disease free. MS patient walks. Brain cells regenerated. Functional breasts created. A 10 minute arthritis treatment developed.

7) ASCs will be paid for by insurance (and therefore affordable to the non-rich) way sooner ... is now in many cases.

Everything here can be sourced at the sited Yahoo website ... also, you can search for current clinical trials for your condition or stem cells at:

Sadly, people with illnesses are being used as pawns to promote an agenda and try to get $$$ for research that is unlikely to lead to cures. This isn't about religion. Believe the results, not the rhetoric.

Posted by: Mary Hamilton at February 24th, 2006 7:35 AM

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