Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

"Those of us who can't wait". Luca Coscioni dies at the age of 39

Luca Coscioni, at one point in his life, was known as an Economics professor and enthusiastic marathon runner. During the 1990s though, his life changed radically as he was diagnosed with Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (also known variously as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease). The disease left him paralysed and unable to speak without the aid of a specialised computer system.

Coscioni became, though, one of the most outspoken advocates of stem-cell research in Italy, campaigning to remove various restrictions on scientific research in Italy and worldwide.

On Monday Coscioni died, at the age of 39.

It’s not the intention of this column to suggest whether stem-cell research is right or wrong. It’s a complex issue that society as a whole needs to examine. It’s an issue, though, that society as a whole needs to examine urgently. In last year’s Italian referendum to cancel a number of restrictive measures against assisted procreation, measures that also touched upon stem-cell research, less than 30% of the electorate turned out (urged, in part, by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy not to vote – i.e to let the politicians, theologians, and bio-ethicists solve the problem).

A disease like Motor Neurone Disease affects a tiny part of the population. Most of the conditions for which stem-cell research may help find cures affect a relatively small percentage of the population. Is that reason enough to abdicate the responsibility to become fully informed on the debate? Reason enough to leave the decisions in the hands of moral experts?

Luca Coscioni wrote*:

Those of us who can’t wait

There was a time for miracles of the faith. There is a time for miracles of science. One day, my doctor may, I hope, say to me: Try to get up, because maybe you can walk.

But, I don’t have much time, we don’t have much time.

And, between a tear and a laugh, our hard existences certainly don’t need the anathema of religious fundamentalists, but rather the silence of freedom. Our existences need a cure, a cure for body and soul. Our existences need freedom for scientific research. But, they can’t wait.

They can’t wait to hear the apologies of one of the future Popes.

*From C