X-Message-Number: 24816
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 15:24:07 -0400
From: Randolfe Wicker <>
Subject: Christopher Reeve

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No one is flawless.  James Swayze certainly gave us both medical information and
a unique perspective regarding Christopher Reeve, stem cell research and 

I had some serious objections to Reeve's political stances myself.  I could 
understand his passion for therapeutic cloning to relieve his disability of 
spinal cord injury.  I could understand why he would want to distance himself 
politically from the broader less-popular cause of using cloning technology 
(once perfected) to cure another disability called infertility.

However, I was outraged when he went "over the line" in a press release by 
declaring that "reproductive cloning should be outlawed".  I wrote him several 
letters trying to set up a meeting.  I spent years making appearances on network
and cable news shows defending his issue, "therapeutic cloning", and making it 
clear that the religious right was simply trying to win political points by 
confusing the two issues.

Indeed, they were two different issues.  However, both were based on the same 
cloning technology.  I felt that by joining the chorus of 
anti-reproductive-cloning fanatics, Christopher Reeve was actually shooting 
himself in the foot.  Nevertheless, every champion of a political cause 
sometimes has to make difficult choices.  Even a well-intentioned "Superman" and
a national hero like Christopher Reeve can make mistakes.

I missed the documentary James Swayze mentioned.  However, I have in my video 
library an incredibly moving talk by Christopher Reeve.  He described how a 
promising treatment for his condition which had been developed overseas had been
delayed for two years by "politics".  It was quite moving to hear him say, "Two
years might not sound like such a long time.  However, when you are unable to 
move, two years can seem like a lifetime."

Indeed, those two years of waiting might have greatly contributed to shortening 
his lifetime.

Those of us who embrace the idea of cryonics usually admit that we are clinging 
onto our only hope for personal survival.  Cryonics is a very misunderstood and 
stigmatized cause today.  Mixing issues is dangerous to any person seriously 
advocating for a special cause.

As a cloning activist, I tried to avoid being identified as a minor historical 
figure in the struggle for homosexual civil rights.  I dodged the accurate label
of "atheist" (admit that and many people cease listening to anything else you 
have to say) and used the less provocative truth that I was a "lapsed Catholic".

Once anyone is confirmed as a Roman Catholic, they remain a Catholic whether 
they like it or not.  One cannot 'leave' or 'resign' from the Catholic Church.  
You can only be expelled by having the Pope himself issue an official "Bull of 
Excommunication".  I would be delighted to receive such a document.  I would 
frame it and hang it prominently on the wall.  Until then, I will simply remain 
a "lapsed Catholic" while championing cloning, life extension, cryonics or any 
other issue in the public arena.

Christopher Reeve probably knew little about cryonics.  Like most people, he 
would probably have dismissed it out-of-hand as an impossible dream promoted by 
some fringe group.  Being an admired and loved celebrity is a fragile and 
perishable status.  Look at what happened to our beloved Ted Williams when it 
became known that he signed up for cryonics.

I think it can reasonably be argued that Christopher Reeve would have undermined
his life's work for therapeutic cloning if he had arranged to be cryonically 
preserved.  Cryonics might have benefited but therapeutic cloning would have 
suffered.  With proposals for public funding of therapeutic cloning on the 
ballot this November in California and New Jersey, with institutions like 
Harvard University asking for "permission" to clone human embryos "for disease 
research", Christopher Reeve might well have chosen to die for the cause dearest
to him even if he thought cryonics was worth the gamble on a personal level.

Some people die fighting for their country, trying to save a loved one from an 
attacker or a fire, fighting against bigots for civil rights and justice.  
Christopher Reeve, in my considered opinion, died fighting for therapeutic 
cloning and stem cell research.  The real question is whether or not he was 
actually a victim of "Right-To-Life" politics.

I disagreed with Christopher Reeve.  However, he remains one of my special 
heroes.  Regardless of any unenlightened views he had regarding reproductive 
cloning and cryonics, he was really our ally.  He was fighting for the science's
freedom to discover and for medicine's right to heal.  Those are two 
big-picture issues very relevant to all of us.
Randolfe H. Wicker
Founder, Clone Rights United Front www.clonerights.com 
Spokesperson, Reproductive Cloning Network, www.reproductivecloning.net 
Correspondent, Stem Clone Digest, www.stemclonedigest.com 
Advisor, The Immortality Institute, www.imminst.org 
201-656-3280 (Mornings)

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