Originally Published: July 28, 2004 7 a.m.
The media continues to report that the Reagan "family" is in favor of stem cell research, when the truth is that two members of the family have been longtime foes of this process of manufacturing human beings – my dad, Ronald Reagan during his lifetime, and me.
The media should keep in mind that we are also members of the Reagan "family," and my father, as I do, opposed the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of using their stem cells as possible medical cures.
Moreover, using the widely promoted and thoroughly discredited argument that stem cell research can lead to a cure of Alzheimer's disease, the media and proponents of stem cell research have suggested that had the research been done a long time ago, my dad might have avoided the ordeal he endured. This is junk science at its worst.
As William Clark, dad's national security adviser, interior secretary and one of my dad's closest friends and aides wrote in a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times my father's "suffering under Alzheimer's disease was tragic, and we should do everything we can that is ethically proper to help others afflicted with it. But I have no doubt that he would have urged our nation to look to adult stem cell research — which has yielded many clinical successes — and away from the destruction of developing human lives, which has yielded none." And he warned, "Those who would trade on Ronald Reagan's legacy should first consider his own words."
Here's what my father said way back in 1983: "My administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning."
To make matters worse, those arguing for embryonic stem cells have embarked on a campaign of disinformation, claiming that there are scientific reasons for expecting that their research can lead to a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
Listen to what Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, told the Washington Post: "People need a fairy tale," he said, explaining why scientists have allowed society to believe wrongly that stem cells are likely to effectively treat Alzheimer's disease. He added, "Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand."
A story line that is a flat- out lie.
Writing in the Weekly Standard, lawyer, ethicist and human life advocate Wesley J. Smith reported that "Researchers have apparently known for some time that embryonic stem cells will not be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's, because as two researchers told a Senate subcommittee in May, it is a 'whole brain disease,' rather than a cellular disorder (such as Parkinson's). This has generally been kept out of the news. But now, Washington Post correspondent Rick Weiss has blown the lid off of the scam, reporting that while useful abstract information might be gleaned about Alzheimer's through embryonic stem cell research, 'stem cell experts confess . . . that of all the diseases that may be someday cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit.'"
(E-mail Mike Reagan, a board member of the John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation, at email@example.com for Mike)