Michael J. Fox Fires Back at Critics

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Fox: Well, the federal government has to be involved, because on one level, you talk about limitations; it's not just a matter of the stem cells being limited, but the restriction on federal funding. If you have an institution, a facility that can do this kind of work and it receives any federal funding at all, you lose that if you do, if you take a cell out of a Petri dish on government property. So you have to have duplication of facilities.

So now our resources are going into scientists having to duplicate federal facilities at enormous expense in order to do the most rudimentary work with stem cells, with embryonic stem cells. You have researchers that can't get funding. And so you have young researchers that are not going into the field. It's the iterations of limitation are endless.

So you say: Why can't the private sector get involved? Because they have to duplicate the entire resources of the federal government in order to do it. It's just not practical.

Stephanopoulos: What's the best evidence that you've seen recently of the promise of stem cell research?

Fox: Well, like I said, the fact that they can, that they can halt the symptoms of Parkinson's relative to us, again, with, you know, again, with, with flaws and with things that don't make it translatable at this point.

But, it's-- No. In answer to those that say it's false hope, you know, we're not fooling ourselves. This is a course that's going to take some time and have some setbacks. But it's a positive, forward-looking attitude and approach with, again, assurances that this is the most optimistic and positive and promising recourse we can take.

Stephanopoulos: And your goal now is to go out and elect candidates who will, I guess, help override the president's veto.

Fox: Of any stripe. You know, that's the other notion that was put out there, was that I somehow was recruited by the Democratic Party.

Stephanopoulos: Democratic shill, I think was the word.

Fox: Democratic shill, yes. I have to look up shill in the dictionary. I think it has something to do with supporting someone whose beliefs you don't believe in for ulterior reason or something.

But, yeah, no, I'm not a shill for the Democratic Party. I approached them. I sat down to find out what candidates are pro-stem cell in races where they're opposed by anti-stem cell candidates. And I had no predisposition toward Democrats or Republicans. It'd be fine with me either way.

In fact, a Republican candidate who's pro-stem cell would be someone I'd really like to talk to. And in fact in the past I've supported, I've done commercials for Arlen Specter, who is a very aggressive pro-stem cell champion. And I know that there are others, you know. There are people like Orrin Hatch and Danforth and others who've thought about it, weighed it really carefully and found that its pro-life possibilities aren't counter to their previous positions. This is a pro-life position, and this is the responsibility of our leadership to take it down this path. It will help Americans.

Stephanopoulos: You know, in your book, "Lucky Man," you really are unsparing in your description of the horrors of this disease. But you also make it seem almost like a gift. Do you still feel that way?

Fox: That's unique to me. I've been so incredibly blessed in my life. So lucky. So gifted with amazing things -- my family and my wife; my career; the things I've seen; the people that I've met.

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