The Viability of Our Humanity: Will the Supreme Courts Abortion Jurisprudence Survive the Challenge of Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

By Brodsky, Marta | St. John's Law Review, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

The Viability of Our Humanity: Will the Supreme Courts Abortion Jurisprudence Survive the Challenge of Embryonic Stem Cell Research?


Brodsky, Marta, St. John's Law Review


NOTE

"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe a spirit vastly superior to that of man."

-Albert Einstein1

INTRODUCTION

On May 27, 1995, forty-two year old Christopher Reeve was catapulted from his horse during an equestrian competition, cracking his first two vertebrae and damaging the delicate nerves that travel through the spine--the central nervous system.2 Having miraculously survived this accident, Reeve was, nevertheless, rendered completely and permanently paralyzed.3 Given the highly specialized structure of cells that compose the central nervous system, once damaged, they do not regenerate, and there is currently no treatment, with either drugs or surgery, that can replicate their critical role as carriers of neural messages.4 As a result, Reeve, along with a quarter of IMAGE FORMULA10a million other Americans who have sustained spinal injuries, must learn to cope with paralysis.5

On February 2, 2000, Michael J. Fox announced his decision to quit acting in order to devote his energy to finding a cure for Parkinson's, a disease that has been progressively destroying his central nervous system.6 Parkinson's affects over one million people in the United States, with a growing number of victims under the age of fifty.7 While the disease itself is not known to be fatal, approximately one-third of those affected will develop collateral illnesses such as senile dementia, blood poisoning, and stroke, which may be fatal.8 The disease acts upon the brain, destroying cells (or neurones) that produce the crucial chemical dopamine, and in the process, decimates the area that controls movement.9 Parkinson's is currently incurable, and the only treatment is dopamine-replacement drugs.10

On June 26, 2001, Mary Tyler Moore,11 who has suffered from juvenile diabetes for more than thirty years, described to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs the hourly IMAGE FORMULA12vigilance she has had to maintain in order to keep herself alive.12 Moore is not alone. Millions of others so afflicted in childhood live out their lives in constant fear that one slip could result in stroke, coma, or death.13 Juvenile diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.14 After eating or drinking, glucose (or sugar) levels rise in the bloodstream.15 In a healthy metabolic process, the pancreas produces insulin to metabolize the glucose.16 If the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, however, the excessive levels of sugar in the bloodstream cause hypoglycemia.17 Hypoglycemia is an immediate reaction involving such symptoms as tremors, dizziness, verbal slurring, and blurred vision. Recurring bouts of hypoglycemia often lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, or death.18 Juvenile diabetes is currently incurable, and the only treatment is insulin injections.19

On November 5, 1994, former President Ronald Reagan informed the American people that he had been diagnosed with IMAGE FORMULA14Alzheimer's disease.20 Seven years later, President Reagan, once the leader of the free world, was not always able to recognize his wife.21 Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that begins with forgetfulness and eventually ends in dementia, the total destruction of memory, language, and the ability to function.22 Alzheimer's effects are well known, but its cause remains a mystery.23 The disease destroys nerve cells and the chemicals that carry complex messages across those cells in the areas of the brain that control memory and other mental abilities.24 Approximately four million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer's.25 It is currently incurable, and although there are drugs that temporarily seem to alleviate cognitive impairment early on, there is no way to stop the disease's eventual annihilating progression. …

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