Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Eyes Have It - At Least for Now

Imagine gradually losing your eyesight over the years until you reach the point that you can no longer see to drive, or cook, or read. Or grocery shop or walk down the street on your own. Imagine not being able to see your grandchildren as they grow and develop. Or not being able to blog and thus losing contact with all your friends - such as has happened to BJ of DemWit fame.

As your bright colorful world shrinks and turns into gray shadows, imagine being told by doctor after doctor that there is no cure. The lights slowly dim and your hopes of ever seeing again dim with them.

But just imagine someone flipping a switch and the lights coming back on. Suddenly you can see your hands in front of your face, and the wood grain in the dining room table, and the picture on the television. For perhaps the first time ever, you can see your granddaughter's smile. Just how amazing would that be?

And then imagine having the chance to once again see the world around you snatched away because of some archaic belief system.

Both scenarios are possible.

Two women with untreatable eye diseases report that they had dramatic improvement in their vision after injections of human embryonic stem cells. For the millions who suffer with a degenerative eye disease, the ramifications, although preliminary, have to be enormously exciting - more exciting even than winning a $10M lottery.

BUT - if any of the four Republicans vying to lead our nation were president today, this very exciting development that has the potential of restoring sight to millions of people might not be a possibility.

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, New Gingrich and Ron Paul
have accepted the ludicrous "personhood" stand that full human rights begin when sperm meets egg, caving in to the religious right in terms of stem cell research. On national television, Romney pledged to support a personhood Amendment to the Constitution, and the other three have signed a personhood pledge, as well as appearing at personhood rallies.
If the Right-to-Life people don't want to have an abortion, fine. If they don't want to use contraceptives, fine. But when they want to force others to live according to their warped dictates, that's not fine. More importantly, when they want to deny the living a chance to lead a healthy, normal life, that's anything but fine.

Even the Catholic Church, that male bastion of anti-contraception/abortion/choice, came out in support of adult stem cell research during a conference last November.
The conference ended with an extraordinary Papal audience at which Pope Benedict XVI spoke of our shared mission to ‘wake up’ the world to the here-and-now uses of adult stem cell therapies, and to form a collaborative network of scientists and doctors devoted to the advancement of adult stem cell therapies.
As the author states, "There is no area of medical science as misunderstood by the public as “stem cell” science and its extraordinary potential for transforming the health and welfare of our nation." (emphasis mine)

Just imagine a cure for diabetes, Huntington's (or what should be called "Woody Guthrie's disease), Lou Gehrig's disease (ADL), Alzheimer's (read about a recent development using skin cells), and cardiac disease.
When you begin to understand the promise of stem cell treatments when it comes to treating these diseases, along with maladies such as cancer in all its terrible varieties and autoimmune illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, and further recognize the trillions of dollars that can be saved in our health care system by pursuing stem cell research and development, this public misunderstanding becomes all the more tragic.
I suspect most of the Personhood male members, and maybe even their wives (or maybe not), might sing a different tune if they learned that stem cells have been shown to help penis problems in rats.


  1. A truly great post. I love the way you hit the men where it hurts at the end.

    If they, or a loved one, has one of the diseases you mentioned I'll bet they would change their minds.

    Until they do we should not give tax exemptions to churches who meddle with politics and try to force their misguided beliefs on the rest of us.

    1. Maybe these men need to start thinking with their heads instead of a certain appendage.

      I don't know if people who "think" - strike that - "believe" the way they do would in fact change their minds. They're just too rigid and closed minded, and they seem to almost have a perverse desire to see people suffer - even their loved ones.

      I sort of have mixed feeling about taxing churches, partly because I'm not sure that it doesn't cross the lines of separation of church and state in some way. There are plenty of church leaders, especially in these mega-churches and on TV, who push the envelope, though. We have one here who is a real doozy. At the same time, there are a lot of church leaders who only tend to their flocks - literally. They do "good works" for the most part and many are usually as poor as church mice. (yuck)

  2. Unfortunately, we are not dealing with rational thought processes with these people. Nor do they understand the real meaning of compassion.

    As the saying goes, "Don't understand science? Get religion".

    Some of the most hateful people I've met, were every
    Sunday, church-going, bible thumping "Christians".

    1. I tend to agree with you but only to a certain extent. There are good people among Christians, Jews, atheists, and within every other group on the face of the earth. There are also some real assholes among all of these groups as well and I consider these Personhood folks to be among them.

      But I really don't want to get into bashing any one group across the board. There are just too many variables and it's too emotional a topic.

    2. Except for the religious right, but I do not consider them to be "Christian."

  3. 250 years ago these same nuts thought lightning rods were a violation of God's will, and they've been against every technological innovation ever since -- especially medical ones. They opposed the first antibiotic treatments for venereal disease because a cure would promote "immorality", and they're still doing it with the HPV vaccine.

    A few years ago some Congressional Republicans pushed for a law that would punish Americans if they went to other countries to get stem-cell treatments forbidden here. (It failed.)

    Hard-line religion has always been the enemy of progress and will continue to be so as long as it exists.

    1. "Hard-line religion...." That's it in a nutshell. But if embryos can be used without having to destroy them or if using skin for stem cell therapy proves successful, the hard-liners ain't gonna have anything to stand on. No doubt they'll come up with some other warped theory, though.

  4. I love this post L! I'm gonna share on FB too...I do believe, especially with Santorum, that even if a child or partner, parent or sibling of theirs was to benefit from a stem cell procedure they would still stand firm and watch their loved one suffer and possibly die without the medical help. Santorum is one who thinks suffering is something to be proud of! What a crock! Religious Righties are not capable of compassion, and they live in the Old Testament...scary!!

  5. Here’s my demand of anyone with the power to vote down embryonic stem cell research: wear a blindfold for a week while living alone. Then, vote your conscience.

    Infidel is right: religion has always attempted to stand in the way of science. In a recent Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) survey 73 percent of America’s protestant pastors said they do not believe in evolution and 46 percent believe the earth is approximately 6,000 years old. As a Christian, I find that embarrassing and harmful.

    Finally, note the “celebrities” who have suddenly become advocates for stamping out certain diseases or conditions when they or their loved ones became affected: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve and Nancy Reagan come to mind. Nancy has thrown her full support behind stem cell research.

    Thank, Leslie, for your continuing contribution to awareness.


    1. I really don't think a whole lot of these people have a conscience and they're certainly devoid of any compassion. That plus their rigid attitudes and closed minds is not a formula to be admired.

      I wonder if that survey included pastors of all denominations or just Baptists. I really can't imagine, say, Episcopalians believing that nonsense - at least not any of the ones I've run across throughout my life.

  6. Here is the link to the brief article about the SBC survey:

    1. Thanks for the link. I don't really trust this poll simply because it's only reasonable to expect the Southern Baptist folks to skew the selection of respondents as well as the way the questions are presented. The do have an obvious agenda, after all.

      More importantly, "what" protestant ministers did they survey, i.e., of what denominations? Were they mostly representative of the hard-liners, the store-front varieties and other fundamentalist/evangelical types? Or did they have a fair and balanced representation of the more established, if you will, denominations? I really doubt it, especially in light of the Gallup poll that CNN cites:

      "A 2010 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, versus 54% who said humans developed over millions of years."

      That's a significant difference.

  7. Should Colbert decide to donate the proceeds of his "Super Pac" to the candidacy of Frodo, then it will be announced herein that Frodo will declare his intention to run for President of the United States of the Shire. His candidacy will ensure a full vetting of the Democratic Party agenda for the 2012 Presidential Election. Frodo's candidacy is dependent however, on the acceptance of this beautiful writer as "Conscience Laureate" in the Hobbit Administration.

    Very well done.

    1. Awww, Frodo. Just wait till my next piece of conscience. Coming soon - with lots of smoke. You're much too intelligent to run for president, not to say sane, but yet, it's not such a bad idea. Hmmm.