Stem-Cell Research -- May 22, 2005

ByABC News
May 22, 2005, 12:06 PM

  -- A weekly feature on This Week.

With a bill on Capitol Hill threatening to roll back federal restrictions on stem cell research, we hear from two passionate women who have a very personal stake in the debate -- Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve, and Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Anne Graham Lotz: "My father has Parkinson's disease. I have a son who has cancer, a mother who has degenerative arthritis and I have a husband who has diabetes. And those are four very close family members, each one of whom has a disease that I have read, anyway, could be possibly affected by stem cell research, which is exciting to me, but embryonic stem cell research, which is still distressing to me. I would not want any one of my family members to benefit from the willful destruction of another human life."

Dana Reeve: "If someone has a disease that could possibly benefit from stem cell research, and yet, is still opposed to stem cell research, it really becomes a personal decision. And, again, you're getting into a very tricky area. Making end of life choices is a tricky area."

Lotz: "An embryo, as tiny as it is, is still a human life, created in the image of God, with the capacity and the maturity to know the creator. And to destroy that human life willingly, for any reason, is abhorrent to me. It comes close to thumbing our nose in God's face."

Reeve: "A lot of people will say, 'Well, you have no right to tamper with human life.' By 'tampering with human life,' I believe that they're talking about using an early cell that even if it were implanted, that it would not become a human being. That's where you get stem cells from. This is not a baby. It's not an embryo. It is pre-embryonic. This is something that would not, once it was implanted, turn into a human being."

Lotz: "I'm not sure that anyone can prove that embryonic stem cell research will benefit anyone."

Reeve: "Opponents to stem cell research will say, 'See, there's no promise in stem cell research; nothing's been discovered' -- when, in fact, that's a distortion of the facts. That is because not enough money is being poured into it, not enough attention is being paid."

Lotz: "My father is a powerful, productive human being in the state that he is in. You don't have to be in perfect health. You don't even have to be in improved health to be someone who can contribute to society, who can make a difference in our world, who can impact the lives of other people in a positive way."

Reeve: "Chris was very vocal on stem cell research, and he really did became the face of stem cell research for a while. Michael J. Fox is the face for stem cell research. Lance Armstrong is the face for stem cell research. There is not a disorder you can name that wouldn't name from stem cell research -- eyes, heart, lungs, every part of the body. These are incredible things. The stem cell discovery is going to be the most prominent discovery, I think, in our lifetime, for sure."

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: "Well, this is a big news story. These pictures of Saddam in underpants [are] all over the news today. Actually, see how trim he looks? He actually lost some weight. That's the trimmest I've ever seen him. In fact, today Kirstie Alley checked herself into an Iraqi prison."

Late Night with Conan O'Brien:

O'Brien: "Yesterday, Newsweek had to retract a story that sparked riots around the world. A spokesperson for Newsweek said, 'We didn't realize Muslim fanatics took their religion so seriously.' "

The Late Show with David Letterman:

Letterman: "Newsweek had to retract a report about the Koran. And the article caused violent anti-U.S. rioting in Muslim countries. And that's too bad, because up until now they really loved us."