Oct 29, 2008
Debate over embryonic stem cell research centers on ideology versus science
The debate over embryonic stem cell research and Michigan's Ballot Proposal 2 is simply an attempt to trump science and progress with blind ideology and politics.
We have been hammered by false and misleading TV ads funded by anti-choice groups, Catholic groups and far rightwing organizations like the Family Research Council.
Embryonic stem cells have the potential to cure countless diseases, such as autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis; cancers; cardiovascular diseases; circulatory and respiratory diseases; spinal cord injuries; infectious diseases like HIV; metabolic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease; muscular dystrophies; neurological diseases of adulthood like Alzheimer's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease; and neurological diseases of childhood like Asperger's syndrome and autism. The embryos are never implanted in a woman’s body, and the embryos are routinely discarded by fertility clinics.
The bottom line is this: instead of using the embryos for anything useful and helping the more than 770,000 Michigan residents who are suffering from the above mentioned diseases, opponents of embryonic stem cell research would rather see them thrown in the trash. That is just sad.
Cure Michigan, proponents of the ballot proposal, have done an excellent job of putting a human face on the 770,000 Michiganders this could help if passed. One is a friend of mine, Julielyn Gibbons. Her very personal video makes me proud she grew up and her parents still live in my home county of Livingston County in Green Oak Township.
I met her through blogging and politics, and the "Cruise Director" – as she is affectingly known in the liberal blogging world - is one of the people responsible for the success of liberal blogs. She works hard for what she believes in, and that's why she is working hard in this campaign. I have never seen her in a bad mood, despite the pain she has been in. But her story is just one of many personal stories, and the web site has many more.
For another good piece of video, check out the "Off the Record" episode with Tim Skubick that features an opponent and a proponent of Proposal 2, as well as Prop 1, debating the issue. For me, this is the best way to reach a decision instead of a one-on-one interview where statements can go unchallenged when they are facing off.
It speaks volumes about the two side's agendas by who were the spokesmen, and it was science versus politics and ideology. The anti-stem cell proponent was Republican state Sen. Tom George. The proponent was Dr. Sean Morrison, the Director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology. Granted, George is also a medical doctor, but he is playing the role of politician. It's worth watching.
What we have seen from the opponents of Prop 2 is false, misleading and even disgusting ads from the opponents of stem cell research. They have pushed falsehood after falsehood. They have falsely claimed it will raise taxes. Only 12 states have chosen to publicly fund embryonic stem cell research, and this proposal does not do that. The fact is Michigan is losing out on millions of dollars in federal funding and grants.
They also falsely claim it will open the door on human cloning, but they are, of course, ignoring the fact that a 1988 Michigan law already bans human cloning. Opponents also claim Proposal 2 would allow unrestricted research. Not true because the research conducted in Michigan meets existing strict federal laws and guidelines.
The newest one I heard says even if Proposal 2 is voted down embryonic stem cell research will still go on. That ignores that research here is severely limited to existing stem cell lines, many of which are contaminated and unsuitable for study, and any attempt to create new ones is a felony. Michigan has three of the best research universities in the country, but we have already lost some of brightest minds to states that allow embryonic stem cell research.
To see how politicized this has become we have the Catholic Bishop for the Lansing Diocese criticizing Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her support of Proposition 2. Now, I'm not a catholic, but apparently the Governor is a Catholic. I don't see why that even matters, and the Bishop's opinion is just one more opinion and that's not based on fact or science.
What the Catholic Church thinks is irrelevant, and I don't understand why their opinion carries any more weight than supporters of Prop 2, like the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the American Dental Association or the Unitarian-Universalist Association of Congregations.
This reminds of the issues raised when President Kennedy, the only Catholic President, was running. It was feared he would take policy direction from the Vatican. He put that to rest in a speech in 1960 to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president - should he be Catholic- how to act."
Make that Governors, too.
Vote Yes on Proposition 2.