by Steven Ertelt
October 11, 2004
Bedford, NY (LifeNews.com) — Superman star Christopher Reeve passed away on Sunday after succumbing to heart failure, a complication that resulted from a near-fatal horse riding accident in 1995. The accident turned the longtime actor into a national celebrity for spinal cord injury victims and put him at the center of the worldwide debate over stem cell research.
Reeve broke his neck during an equestrian competition in Virginia and, afterwards, became a top spokesman for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
That put him at odds with pro-life groups and President Bush, who oppose using embryonic stem cells because human embryos must be destroyed to obtain them. They favor adult stem cells, which come from more ethical sources and have been proven more effective in clinical trials.
Despite the disagreement, one pro-life group said it mourns Reeve’s death.
"Today we mourn the passing of the great entertainer Christopher Reeve. Our sincere condolences go to his brave family and friends who supported him through his long years of struggle," said Austin Ruse, president of the Culture of Life Foundation.
Ruse said he was concerned that embryonic stem cell research advocates would use Reeve’s passing to crusade for more taxpayer funding in the same way such advocates latched onto the death of President Ronald Reagan.
Unlike Reeve, Reagan was pro-life and would likely have opposed research that relied on destroying tiny unborn children.
While scientists and researchers tout the potential cures from embryonic stem cells, Ruse said such miracle cures are a disingenuous false hope for patients like Reeve.
Ruse said embryonic stem cell research "was nowhere close to helping Mr. Reeve walk again. To suggest otherwise does a disservice to those who suffer by raising profoundly false expectations that will not be realized."
"The fact is that after twenty years and many millions of dollars, embryo-destructive research has not successfully treated a single patient or a single disease," Ruse said.
In fact, the use of adult stem cells have already helped victims with injuries like Reeve’s.
"[A]dult stem cell therapy has already helped those with severe spinal cord injuries to walk again — two of whom testified before the US Senate last month," Ruse explained. "One of those who testified even suffered from quadriplegia just like Christopher Reeve."