Michigan Panel to Decide This Month on Human Embryo Research Proposal
by Steven Ertelt
August 4, 2008
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A Michigan governmental panel will determine later this month whether backers of a state ballot proposal to conduct experiments on days-old unborn children will qualify for the November elections. Backers of the research turned in 570,000 signatures in July for the measure.
The secretary of state has started the validation process and the Michigan Board of State Canvassers last week an August 21 meeting to review signatures.
The board also gave opponents until August 13 to challenge the signatures, though that is considered unlikely.
If state officials validate more than 380,000 signatures, Michigan voters will determine whether scientists should be able to engage in unregulated, unrestricted experimentation on live human embryos.
Dave Doyle is the spokesman for MI-CAUSE, Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation, the coalition of groups united against the idea.
"This proposal will allow for completely unregulated and unrestricted science on human embryos," he says and adds that it paves the way for funding human cloning.
"The proposal says we’ll follow the law," Doyle told the newspaper, "but if the laws change, cloning will be available."
In May, pro-life advocates received a boost when the Michigan State Medical Society changed its position and ended five years of supporting taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.
The group will take a neutral position on the ballot initiative.
The Medical Society has supported funding the unproven research since 2003 but decided to take a neutral stance on the potential ballot battle. Instead of weighing in on the vote, the group will educate doctors with research studies and information on the ethical considerations involved.
Donald Condit, a Grand Rapids physician, said he wanted the doctors’ group to oppose the ballot proposal but said he’s happy it will stay neutral.
"It maintains harmony among the Michigan State Medical Society where people of good will disagree on this issue," Condit said. "I would have preferred a stronger stance, but I’m very happy the consensus preserves the diversity among Michigan physicians."
In January, Right to Life of Michigan launched a new stem cell research educational campaign designed to counteract lawmakers who support the proposal.
The educational television ads "give a voice for those who are suffering from injury and disease," the group told LifeNews.com in a statement.
The four-week, state-wide television campaign provided personal testimonies from Jim Yates, whose spinal cord was damaged after falling from a horse, and Kathleen Hulst, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Both share their opposition to embryonic stem cell research and human cloning by providing a personal perspective on the contentious debate.
"We have heard from the doctors, researchers and politicians in Michigan who want to pursue embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for their own gains," RLM president Barb Listing told LifeNews.com.
Research using stem cells obtained from adults and umbilical cord blood has been used to help thousands of people with various ailments.
At least 70 different diseases or ailments have been treated or helped by the use of adult stem cells including Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, various forms of leukemia, heart damage and various forms of cancer.
However, embryonic stem cell research has been unsuccessful in animals in part because the cells create tumors after injection and they are rejected by the immune system.
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