There was a time in my life when I lived with my parents as a young adult, during the height of my dad's Rush obsession. "Well, Rush says…" he would begin about half of his sentences. My dad is a good man, but he had been embittered by life, and Rush's television program was uniquely designed to find such bitterness, disillusionment, and frustration in its viewers and use it to political advantage. It hurt me horribly to watch this happen, and I still feel nauseous whenever I hear Limbaugh speak. So it's no surprise to me that he's up to his old (constant) tricks. But this one is particularly disgusting.
A few days ago, I watched online a political spot that Michael J. Fox had filmed
in support of candidate Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Stem cell research is a complicated issue. I know this because my husband and I went through IVF (in vitro fertilization) and if we had wound up with more embryos than we could use in our first attempt to have children, we would have had to freeze them. This was a difficult moral decision for us, but our doctors told us that I had "egg quality issues," and so it would be unlikely that we would get more embryos than we could use in our first attempt, although of course, anything could happen. We got four embryos, we used four, and we would up with two healthy, beautiful baby boys.
I've thought about trying IVF again, as it was so successful for us, and if my husband and I do anything well, it's make excellent babies. But, in addition to financial issues and the fact that we've also had great success in the adoption department, I also know that we dodged a bullet. We had decided that however many embryos we got, we would make sure that one way or another, each one got a shot at life. But could we really have done it? I would do it again, in a heartbeat, to get my boys. But I also would hesitate to recommend that path to anyone, knowing that we were extremely lucky not to have faced any major moral dilemmas.
There are thousands of people who went through IVF just like us, but who also still have embryos that are frozen. Most will go unused. Most will get thrown away. Few people question the morality of that. Would I rather see those frozen embryos used for research than thrown out? Absolutely. Do I support the creation of embryos so that stem cells can be taken from them? No, I do not. (For the record, Michael J. Fox is not talking about creating embryonic stem cells for research, but about using cells from embryos that are going to be thrown away, anyway.) Clearly, this is a deeply complicated issue.
That said, I was greatly moved to see Michael J. Fox speaking about stem cell research. His words were heartfelt, the effort it took to deliver them, considerable. I felt for him, for his wife, for his children. For everyone whose life is touched by Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury, and other diseases and injuries whose help and cure may depend on stem cell research.
Then Rush Limbaugh publicly accused Fox of exaggerating his symptoms.
Shame on Limbaugh. And shame on everyone who still listens to him, after decades worth of his mud-slinging and meanness.
Me, I'm riled up. But Fox somehow manages to stay calm and thoughtful. His response
is one of the bravest, wisest, most moving things I've seen in my life.