They say protesters are a sign that our legal system is healthy, but the latest batch of protesters – a group of spinal cord injured individuals in Minnesota, protesting a bill that would fund spinal cord injury research – are really starting to irk me.
They first revealed they were against the bill (when it was introduced to the public) a few weeks ago. A few people in wheelchairs showed up outside the state capitol holding signs. But why protest a bill that could help them get out of their wheelchairs? Sounds a bit silly, right? (and it’s confusing a lot of able-bodied people too).
The reason they’re against the bill isn’t all bad. They believe the public funding proposed for this bill should be used for what they feel are more important things, such as PCA services and durable medical supplies (which have been cut in recent years). And they do have a point. It’s honestly hard to say anything bad about these people because many of them are part of a respected bastion of disability advocates in St. Paul (a group that’s done a lot to help the disability community through the decades).
But they’re completely wrong this time. And as mad as I want to feel towards them, I feel bad instead. They really don’t believe a cure is imminent. They believe a cure is a fantasy purported by scientists who are looking for funding. And since these guys have been paralyzed for a pretty dang long time, they’ve seen a lot of “cure talk” over the years. They put hope away decades ago so they could heal and move on. To say they’ve adjusted to their disability is an understatement.
But there IS research to get excited about. People with both new and old spinal cord injuries are seeing return from both adult and embryonic stem cell procedures (being done in China, European countries and various countries throughout central and South America). People aren’t walking again 100%, but even when they first wake up from the procedure they can feel parts of their body they couldn’t before. That to me is a miracle. There is reason to fund this, like now (yesterday is more like it).
So the protesters feel research can’t peacefully coexist with funding caregivers and equipment, but I think it can. And this is going to be the future, so they better get used to it. SCI research is never going away. Ya know…their hardcore anti-cure stance is a strange phenomenon. Once these folks are all gone years from now, it’s a mindset we’ll never see again. People with new injuries will never have to resort to a no-hope coping method. Hope now abounds, and will continue to do so until a cure is found.
I just wish I could erase the fervent anger these folks feel for this bill. Yesterday, they were out in even greater force as the bill began the process of heading to the floor. To say ‘no’ to a cure for their personal lives is one thing, but to prevent others from getting better, to protest against hope? Well, that is something else entirely.
Do you understand these protesters? How do you feel about publicly funded spinal cord injury research?