Don’t Use Christopher Reeve’s Death to Promote Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 11, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Don’t Use Christopher Reeve’s Death to Promote Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 11, 2004

Beaumont, Canada ( — A leading Canadian disability rights advocate has a message for scientists, lawmakers and the biotech community: Don’t use the death of Christopher Reeve to promote embryonic stem cell research.

Reeve died Sunday after a heart attack and living for nearly ten years with a spinal cord injury that resulted from a horse riding accident in 1995. He was a leading advocate of taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Canadian disability activist Mark Pickup, founder of Human Life Matters, is a victim of progressive multiple sclerosis and, like Reeve, is confined to an electric wheelchair. Both Reeve and Pickup have benefited from the support of a loving family throughout a long catastrophic disability.

Like Reeve, Pickup could benefit from cures found as a result of embryonic stem cell research.

But that’s where the similarities end.

Because of his opposition to the destruction of tiny unborn children — days old human embryos — Pickup doesn’t want to use treatments that may someday result from embryonic stem cells.

"I could not morally accept embryonic stem cell therapies to deliver me from MS — a disease that’s slowly destroying me," Pickup said in an email to "Don’t get me wrong, it would be tempting — incredibly tempting."

"While we all mourn the passing of Christopher Reeve, understand that fetal stem cells would not have delivered him from his quadriplegia. Embryonic stem cells hold the least promise for therapies of any kind," Pickup explains.

Pickup says anyone who is pro-life should strongly support stem cell research but oppose research that relies on the destruction of human embryos for stem cells.

"How can a person opposed to abortion — a person who knows the biological fact that human life begins at conception, and believes in the equality of human life, accept a therapy that requires the taking of another human life," Pickup asks.

Related web sites:

Mark Pickup’s recent article –
Human Life Matters –