During a campaign appearance in Des Moines on Monday afternoon, t.v. sitcom star Michael J. Fox waded into the political debate in Iowa about stem cell research.
Fox, who has Parkinson’s Disease, campaigned with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver because Culver promises to change the state law which has effectively prohibited embryonic stem cell research in Iowa. “It’s no secret I am a vocal advocate for medical research,” Fox said. “I have every confidence that the future of science will improve the lives of people living with numerous diseases and disorders, including cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, but I am not alone. A majority of the United States House, a majority of the United States Senate and over 70 percent of the American people support expanding funding for stem cell research.”
Fox told the crowd gathered in the student union at Drake University that he’s often asked what his “Family Ties” character, the conservative Republican “Alex P. Keaton,” would think of his outspoken support of embryonic stem cell research. “I think he’d probably tell me to put my tie back on no matter how hot it is,” Fox said. The crowd, most of whom had waited for over an hour in a stiflingly hot room, laughed. “But I think he would tell me I’m doing the right thing.”
Fox has been campaigning in U.S. Senate and governor’s races around the country where the candidates differ on the use of embryos in stem cell research. “And I’m supporting candidates who support all stem cell research in races where their opponents simply don’t,” Fox said. “The idea of restricting one of the most promising areas of research is simply shortsighted.”
Fox not only praised Culver, the Democratic candidate for governor, for his position on the issue, but Fox praised Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, for backing embryonic stem cell research, too. Then Fox lambasted the Republicans who’re running against Culver and Boswell. “Both Jim Nussle and by the way, President Bush, his name is Jeff Lamberti oppose expanding the current stem cell research policy,” Fox said, ribbing Bush for slipping a couple of times last week at a Lamberti campaign rally and calling Lamberti “Dave” instead of “Jeff.” “They both side with President Bush to stall research and its potential.”
Fox briefly referred to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh who questioned whether Fox had manipulated his meds so his symptoms would be at their worst when he taped campaign ads for candidates who support embryonic stem cell research. “I recently had a — you might have heard about this — had a run in with a not-so-compassionate conservative who suggested that I not talk to anybody until my symptoms go away when actually they just want me to go away, but I’m not going anywhere,” Fox said, as the audience applauded. “I’m not going to go away and the people on this stage are not going to go away and you’re not going to go away until the diseases go away and let’s get that done.”
Congressman Boswell earlier had told the crowd “a top Republican” had taken the debate about stem cell research “into the gutter” but Boswell added that if anybody was “qualified” to “speak about prescription drugs” then it would be Limbaugh, who in the past has faced legal questions about how he acquired prescription medications.
A crowd of over 1,000 gathered to hear Fox speak, and he closed with this. “Embryonic stem cell research transforms embryos already marked for destruction into potentially lifesaving research. I can think of no better affirmation to the culture of life,” Fox said. “The future has been stalled by a lack of belief in science and our leading researchers and a lack of action. Forgive me, but it’s time to get back to our future.”
As you may know, Fox starred in a trilogy of “Back to the Future” movies.
Click on the link below to read another Radio Iowa story about the stem cell research debate in Iowa.
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Frozen embryos part of stem cell debate in Iowa