Fox’s New Views On Embryonic Stem Cells

Five or six years ago the ethical dilemmas in human embryonic stem cell research were the hottest story in bioethics. One of the many celebrities promoting funding for it was Michael J. Fox, an actor whose career has been severely curtailed by Parkinson’s disease. As an extremely effective patient advocate, he claimed that opponents were enemies of hope.

Now, without any fanfare, he has changed his mind. In an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News, Fox announced that other avenues of research are more promising:

“I’m glad that I put the effort into promoting it. My quest in that regard was really about research freedom and not shutting down avenues of research because of ideological reasons that were countered by the majority opinion of whether it was worthwhile doing. Hopefully stem cell research will result in something. I’m glad we found for it and the right to do it  but there’s other areas that we are pursuing…

“Stem cells are an avenue of research that we’ve pursued and continue to pursue but it’s part of a broad portfolio of things that we look at. There have been some issues with stem cells, some problems along the way…

“It’s not so much that [stem cell research has] diminished in its prospects for breakthroughs as much as it’s the other avenues of research have grown and multiplied and become as much or more promising. So, an answer may come from stem cell research but it’s more than likely to come from another area.”

Fox’s foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, is the largest private funder of Parkinson’s disease research in the world. It recently launched an on-line initiative to encourage participation in clinical trials of drugs, not stem cells.

Michael Cook


Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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  • edmund burk

    i wish micheal fox all the best and hope his outlook on this issue continues to evolve.

  • servantofcharity

    As Catholics we need to continue to insist that there is no justification for the destruction of human life at the embryonic stage or any other.  However, I hope Mr. Fox’s change of heart will get wide-spread attention and increase awareness that embryonic stem cell research has proven a dead end in more ways than one, and that there are many more promising alternatives on the medical and moral levels.


  • Jenniferlife1

     From the quote above, it does not appear Mr. Fox has changed his mind, really.  He insists that his promotion in the past was correct and justified.  He is now just opening up to a wider range of possibilities as stem cells have not quite come through as a total cure yet.  He may be shifting his view a few degrees, but made no such statement that he regrets promoting the death of embryos in any way.  Publishing the article as a real change of heart is inaccurate – but makes a good headline.

  • Editor

    The article was never intended to declare “a real change of heart” on the part of Fox, i.e. that he’s decided that embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong, but only to highlight what John at servantofcharity pointed out: that after years of promoting it Fox has finally reached the conclusion that human embryonic stem cell research has provided no usable results. That’s a significant change in his views, as the title reflects, and is a minor pro-life victory worth crowing about, I think.

  • Jamie

    We can pray and hope he will learn that adult stem cells is the only option-not embryonic stem cells.  Research has clearly shown this to be fact. 

  • Michael Fox only mentions ” stem cell research” and des not distinguish between embryonic and adult stem cells. Clearly ebryonic stems cells have not worked and he is now shifting to drugs.  Why does he not pursue adult stem cell research, which has show great promise…  He would have to admit he was wrong.

  • ChrisW

    Mercatornet, New Media Foundation and Family Edge are ALL run and owned by the modern OPUS DEI sect that has almost literally taken over Australia by stealth. Cardinal Pell and Bishop Fisher NEVER stop promoting this lucrative MOB. It is sickening.
     LOTS and LOTS of money is made to promote their horrible Catholicism.

  • Jamie

    ???Are you a Catholic/Christian???  I believe we need to have more family support in society at this time as I see the damage done by the culture of death and the moral decay of our society in the world.  OPUS DEI is a group I see as being capable of helping us.  Go and check out “THere Be Dragons”  which is about the Spanish Civil War in  the 1920-30’s.   Also read about St. Jose Maria Escriva-founder of Opus Dei and his writings which are inspirational just like Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis.  Pray for this world as it is strruggling to stay Christian… in a now NEO PAGAN/Narcissitic  world.

  • Jamie

    “There Be Dragons” is a movie that recently came out and is excellent. YHe movie shares the lives of Jose Maria Esciva and another young man that he knew and how their lives are affected in that era by the war and their Spiritual lives.  Another is coming out Greater GLory about the Mexican Civil war about the same time in history.

  • The largest private fundraiser……… in essence states…. ‘ We didn’t listen and wasted your monies on immoral research.’    AND  we are not sorry!’   
    OK  stupid people!!!!!  give to these clowns and watch them perform EVIL.
    Doesn’t anyone remember how they called everyone who opposed them evil?
    Michael was willing to destroy embryos to find a cure for his disease.
    Quite simply ……. Evil Evil Evil…. intrinsic EVIL!

  • stolaf

    I agree with below comment — Fox isn’t indicating that he changed his mind. However, if he has been persuaded to move toward the right and moral thing because of the scientific outcomes he sees in front of his nose — OK, that’s progress. Another instance of the compatibility of faith and reason. 

  • ChrisW

    Dear Jamie, separate fact from fiction for a strt. Prove me wrong in anything I wrote. Check out the site for yourself, then try accusations. YOU cannot serve both GOD and MAMMON or is Opus Dei the exception?

    It serves no one to get emotional becaise they do not know the true facts either, so chill out and learn a few sad facts that actually have been and still are going on.

  • Editor

    Again, I don’t believe, based on the article or on any other source I know of, that Fox is changing his moral stance, but is only facing up to the conclusion that many of us have known for a long time–that embryonic stem cell research hasn’t produced any medical advances. His acknowledgement of that is the “change” indicated. Naturally, we should pray for him–he’s always struck me as a decent, good-hearted fellow who (like so many today) only lacks some crucial insight into human personhood.

  • Jamie

    First answer if you are a Catholic Christian.  I did check out the website before writing you.  I saw nothing from them to show anything against Church teachings. Opus Dei means Work of God.  SO how is it serving MAMMON??? The order of Opus Dei was founded by  St. Jose Maria Escriva and is also a Third Order for the Laity to be a part of, not just priestly Order. 

  • Jamie

    I know Opus Dei is legitimate.  BUT I have my doubts about their intentions after looking there at their board and their board has no Catholics at all that I am familiar with as notable persons.

  • Jamie

    I  apologise, Mercatornet, New Media Foundation and Family Edge are the ones- I question–look at their board of directors a lot of New Age people and Yoga etc..   I question their site, not OPUS DEI.  So I agree with you after seeing this.

  • annie

    It is always so interesting to see someone talk about others doing something immoral as he calls them “stupid people”. It is hard to want to listen to anything else they have to say.

  • annie

    Why do you use the term Catholic Christian. Is there another type of Catholic or have you converted?

  • Jamie

    Protestants use the term Christian and most think Catholics are NOT Christians.  I only wanted to confirm which Chris was, because of his questions. Lots of money being spent on their horrible Catholicism for example.   Also, the Davinci Code claimed Opus Dei was a sect in the dark ages, acccording to their lies about the Catholic Church–Opus Dei was founded in the early part of the last century in Spain as I said by  Jose Maria Escriva, now a Saint Canonized by John Paul II.  THe movie I refered to  “There Be Dragons” was about him and is an excellent movie.
    I am a Cradle Catholic of Irish-American Heritage and proudly Catholic.
    As I said I looked at the site, but didn’t delve deeper into their Board.  SO on the surface it looks good…. and from there it unravels into mostly New Age, etc.
    I too believe our culture needs to change, but I pray for a Conversion and a New Springtime as JPII spoke of in the year 2000.

  • Jamie

    I fully agree that murdering babies to research in hopes of doing “good” is 100% wrong!!  They will do Evil and call it “Good”  You and John make good points on this.   As I said we must pray for ALL who destroy Human life and justify it as Good.

  • Jamie

    As I spoke of earlier about Stem Cell research… I would like to share that there are Natural Supplements that do not require a Stem Cell transplant and do NOT require invasive surgical procedures.  They cost very little compared to $50,000 on a Transplant to a single organ to help it to repair itself. 
      We have a product that will revolutionize the Health Industry—Stem Cell Nutrition is capable of rejuvenating the WHOLE body not concentrating as they do on a single ailment and location of the body to concentrate their efforts.
       I have this information and hope to be able to reach others that are open to the latest Science Discovery-NOT Medical info.  Michael said he is now looking at medicine… Again if anyone is interested my phone is (360) 901-0741.  It is God’s Gift to mankind when it is a Natural part of the plant world.


  • In the meantime, while waiting for a cure, there are resources that help Parkinson’s patients cope with their condition.

    This one seems to have been highlighted on Readers Digest and other places…