Archive for Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Actor campaigns for stem-cell backers

October 25, 2006


— The symptoms of Parkinson's disease that all but ended Michael J. Fox's acting career are making him a powerfully vulnerable campaign pitchman for five Democrats who support stem cell research.

In 30-second TV ads for Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is running for the Senate in Maryland, Senate candidate Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Fox shakes and rocks as he directly addresses the camera, the effects of his disease clearly apparent.

In the McCaskill ad, which has been viewed by more than 1 million people on, Fox tells voters, "What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans. Americans like me."

Fox was considering appearing with several political candidates who support stem cell research around the country.

Celebrities have a long history of supporting political candidates. But there's no question that Fox, who campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race, is uniquely suited as a spokesman for embryonic stem cell research, which some scientists believe could aid in discovering treatments or cures to Parkinson's and other diseases.

"The reason that he's powerful is that he's comparatively young," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director for the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. "As a result, a lot of people in that age range can look at him and say, 'If that can happen to him, it can happen to me."'

Actor Michael J. Fox listens to Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Illinois' 6th District, during a rally for stem cell research in Wheaton, Ill. Fox is campaigning for several other candidates, including Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, in a race for a U.S. Senate seat.

Actor Michael J. Fox listens to Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Illinois' 6th District, during a rally for stem cell research in Wheaton, Ill. Fox is campaigning for several other candidates, including Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, in a race for a U.S. Senate seat.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system that leaves patients increasingly unable to control their movements.

Fox, 45, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and revealed his condition publicly in 1998. In 2000, the "Spin City" and "Back to the Future" star quit full-time acting because of his symptoms and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which has raised millions of dollars.

He has since acted sporadically in smaller roles, such as in a several-episode guest appearance earlier this year on ABC's "Boston Legal," playing a business tycoon with cancer. For that role and others, Fox generally has sought to control his movements, though his illness was evident. He told The Associated Press in January that one long scene was physically taxing and that because of Parkinson's disease, he "can't show up with a game plan."

Some have criticized Fox's ads as exploitive. Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed Fox was "either off his medication or acting" during the ad.

Others defend Fox's aggressive campaigning for a Parkinson's cure.

Dr. John Boockvar, a neurosurgeon and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, called Limbaugh's claim that Fox was acting "ludicrous." Boockvar said those with Parkinson's have "on" and "off" spells.

"If there is one single disease that has the highest potential for benefit from stem cell research," Boockvar said Tuesday, "it's Parkinson's."


SettingTheRecordStraight 11 years ago

We're ALL for stem cell research-- adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells. What many people find repugnant is destroying human embryos for research purposes.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 12 months ago

I guess as long as abortion is viewed by our society as a moral form of bith/population control, we'll have a raging human-embryo-as-science-experiment debate.

Of course, private labs with private funding can legally experiment on stem cells from destroyed human embyos, but I won't be complicit in having my tax dollars used for such a gruesome scheme.

mom_of_three 10 years, 12 months ago

But if the embryos are going to be destroyed anyway, because they aren't needed, then why not use them to help others?

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 12 months ago

I appreciate that question, but to use that line of thinking, why don't we use human fetuses for experimental purposes? Why not use those condemned to death in prison for experimentation?

Because it's wrong.

Godot 10 years, 12 months ago

You would think that a big star like Michael J. Fox would actually read the bill he supports before he endorses it.

The Missouri bill does not make stem cell research illegal, as Fox implies. It does not even deal with stem cell research, even though that is in the title. The bill legalizes cloning in Missouri, and it makes it legal for labs to pay women for their eggs.

Maybe they don't teach reading comprehension in actor high school.

jcantspell 10 years, 12 months ago

It's all moot Who ever has the most money will get there way And if god lets what ever happens happen then its god will

sourpuss 10 years, 12 months ago

If God wanted the little children to survive, He would not have given us abortion.

Dice 'em, slice 'em, and put 'em in a blender. Then we can consume them and gain their power!!

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 12 months ago

You'll have to explain yourself, scenebooster. How is my argument "obtuse" and "BS"?

Godot 10 years, 12 months ago

We would not even be having the argument about what to do with unused embryos if they were never created in the first place. Allowing that to become common place was the first ethical and moral blunder, and it lead us to this connumdrum.

The next unintended consequence of "doing good" that we will have to argue about will be "what do we do with these cloned 7 or 8 or 9 month fetuses?" If they happen to survive that solution, we will have to deal with, "what do we do with these parentless, possibly disfigured, possibly disabled, cloned babies?"

And, my guess is the arguments will be similar to the ones about using, or not using, embryos for research.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 12 months ago

last time i checked clones aren't given any rights in our legal system

Godot 10 years, 12 months ago

Who is to say?

Will they be, (or, worse, are they):

1) people 2) citizens 3) property 4) pets 5) medical waste 6) something we do not want to recognize as being human.

Choose all that apply.

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