EDIT: Now that WordPress has a little option to put polls in your blog posts, I’ve added a poll at the bottom of my post (the end of the blog post, not the end of the comments).
Alright, as promised, I will now be discussing Michigan’s Proposal 2, “Proposal 2008-02: A proposed constitutional amendment to permit with certain limitations stem cell research in Michigan.” My analysis of Proposal 1, which legalizes medicinal marijuana is available here.
So, let’s first take a look at the ballot language:
Stem Cell Research Ballot Question Committee
Ballot Wording as approved by the Board of State Canvassers
August 21, 2008
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ADDRESS HUMAN EMBRYO AND HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH IN MICHIGAN
The proposed constitutional amendment would:
- Expand use of human embryos for any research permitted under federal law subject to the following limits: the embryos –
– are created for fertility treatment purposes;
– are not suitable for implantation or are in excess of clinical needs;
– would be discarded unless used for research;
– were donated by the person seeking fertility treatment.
- Provide that stem cells cannot be taken from human embryos more than 14 days after cell division begins.
- Prohibit any person from selling or purchasing human embryos for stem cell research.
- Prohibit state and local laws that prevent, restrict or discourage stem cell research, future therapies and cures.
Should this proposal be adopted?
So that’s what will actually be on the ballot. Here is a copy of the actual amendments that will be made to the Michigan Constitution if this passes. I’ll have my analysis throughout the amendments as well as a summary at the end:
INITIATIVE PETITION AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION
A Proposal to Amend the Constitution of the State of Michigan by adding a new Article I, Section 27 as follows:
Article I, Section 27.
(1) Nothing in this section shall alter Michigan’s current prohibition on human cloning.
(2) To ensure that Michigan citizens have access to stem cell therapies and cures, and to ensure that physicians and researchers can conduct the most promising forms of medical research in this state, and that all such research is conducted safely and ethically, any research permitted under federal law on human embryos may be conducted in Michigan, subject to the requirements of federal law and only the following additional limitations and requirements:
(a) No stem cells may be taken from a human embryo more than fourteen days after cell division begins; provided, however, that time during which an embryo is frozen does not count against this fourteen day limit.
(b) The human embryos were created for the purpose of fertility treatment and, with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing, the person seeking fertility treatment chose to donate the embryos for research; and
i. the embryos were in excess of the clinical need of the person seeking the fertility treatment and would otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research; or
ii. the embryos were not suitable for implantation and would otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research.
This is where I need to bring up a key flaw in the whole debate over embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). You have the camp who opposes ESCR because they believe that life begins at conception, and I fall into this camp. Then you have the camp who argues, “But they’re going to be discarded anyway.” And this is where the ESCR opposition has somewhat failed. Many don’t address this issue and simply say, “Well, we shouldn’t be doing research on them.” That’s not the point. The point needs to be that instead of making EXTRA embryos for in vitro fertilization, we should be making embryos AS NEEDED. Sure, it’s costlier, but it doesn’t create embryos that will be destroyed. Now, if you don’t believe that life begins at conception, then this point is irrelevant. I just wanted to point out that the issue for pro-lifers should NOT be that ESCR is the problem, but that the creation of EXTRA embryos is the main problem. Once we stop this, ESCR will become irrelevant.
(c) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human embryos for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.
(d) All stem cell research and all stem cell therapies and cures must be conducted and provided in accordance with state and local laws of general applicability, including but not limited to laws concerning scientific and medical practices and patient safety and privacy, to the extent that any such laws do not:
i. prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by the provisions of this section; or
ii. create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies or cures.
(3) Any provision of this section held unconstitutional shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.
I understand that this is a common practice in proposals, but with this being such a small proposal, I think that if a section of this proposal is held unconstitutional, ESPECIALLY in section (2)(b), the whole proposal will become extremely weaker than initially intended.
Overall, I don’t like the proposal. I don’t think we should be making ANY extra embryos, and justifying it by saying, “Well why let those embryos go to waste” will inhibit us from ending the bad practice of making excess embryos.
Plus, adult and umbilical stem cells have proven to be way more helpful than ESCs, which have given us NOTHING so far.
So, I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now–I will be voting “No” for this come November. As of now, my prediction is that this proposal will fail with voters voting somewhere around 43-57%.