Usually when I learn that someone is the parent of a child with diabetes, I feel an instant rapport. Even if the person is a stranger, I know so much about what his or her daily life is like: the constant monitoring, the shots, the worry. But one cannot respond with such natural fellow feeling when that person has chosen to treat everyone on the other side of the stem cell debate with contempt.
In a short profile that ran in The Washington Post, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., shares her personal struggle with the disease. Her daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1999 at the age of 4. This "jolt" propelled Rep. DeGette to become an activist on diabetes research. She co-chairs the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. Fine, as far as it goes. But like so many activist types, she seems to confuse conviction with revelation. Her daughter lives with a serious condition, and therefore, anyone who does not assent to using embryonic stem cells for research is, what? Well, here are Rep. DeGette's words:
"If a candidate says 'I support stem cells and my opponent does not,' it immediately classifies your opponent as an extremist." Moreover, she continues, "We think people who vote on the wrong side of this are voting against science and health."
It does not seem to cross her mind, as it so rarely seems to occur to any of the activists on this issue, that other people suffer, too, and that indifference may not be the reason they take another view of embryonic stem cell research. They are extremists. They are opposed to science -- even to good health.