|Detroit Free Press
October 24, 2008
Commentary: Former Champ Says Stem Cells Could Save Lives
It would be easy to assume that we're unlike most couples in Michigan.
A nickname like "The Greatest" - as in heavyweight champion of the
world - can do that to you.
Though our lives have been uniquely blessed with all that accompanies
being recognized as one of the most renowned prize fighters in the
world, they are not completely defined by that unique accomplishment.
Today our fight is against Parkinson's disease. Once known for his
lightning-quick hand speed and fast foot work as a boxer, Muhammad now
struggles with the smallest of movements. The neurological disorder
afflicts some 6.5 million people worldwide.
It is in that daily struggle with incurable disease - a struggle we
share with millions of families worldwide, and thousands in Michigan -
that our lives may have most powerfully touched the hearts of people
You likely know of someone with Parkinson's. And if you do, you just
as surely know of the family, friends and professionals who care for
them, each taking their place on the heroic front line of the battle
against debilitating disease.
We need more help in our fight against disease, not less. That's why
we support Proposal 2 on Michigan's Nov. 4 ballot and urge others to
support it, as well.
It simply makes good sense to us. A yes vote would allow Michigan
fertility patients to donate their excess embryos for research to find
life-saving cures. Today those embryos are thrown away.
It's time for Michigan to join more than 40 other states in the search
for cures. A yes vote would permit Michigan's talented scientists to
research desperately needed cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's,
sickle cell anemia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes and
spinal cord injuries. Michigan's sickest citizens, perhaps including
your own family members or friends, deserve no less.
By expanding embryonic stem cell research - considered the most
promising medical inquiry of the 21st century - Michigan could be on
the cutting edge of research into cures that disproportionately affect
There are currently no African-American stem cell lines available for
federally funded research, but scientists in Michigan are eager to
develop them. They need Michigan voters to approve Proposal 2.
As in all the other states that permit it, embryonic stem cell
research here would be conducted only under strict federal laws and
The universities where much of the research would
likely be conducted would provide yet another layer of oversight.
As anyone who has lived with devastating disease can attest, much
strength for the daily struggle comes from the hope for a cure.
Leading doctors and medical organizations say that stem cell research
is more likely to produce cures for deadly diseases and conditions
that any other technique currently in use or even contemplated. We
should not let a small group that opposes stem cell research impose
their beliefs on the rest of us.
On Nov. 4, Michigan voters will be in a position to deliver that hope.
Please vote yes on Proposal 2.
Muhammad Ali was a three-time boxing heavyweight world champion.