Friday, October 10, 2008

Prop 2: Vote No!

The following article (which can be found here) was written by my state senator, Tom George, who is also a medical doctor. It gives some of the many good reasons to vote NO on Prop. 2, which will be on Michigan's ballot this November. On top of this, there are moral issues to consider, which George doesn't even get to...

Vote no on Proposal 2: It shuts door on regulation

Michigan voters should be aware that Proposal 2, the embryonic stem cell ballot proposal, is deceptive. Supporters argue that its approval is necessary in order for ethical embryonic stem cell research to occur, when in fact this research is already taking place in Michigan under current law. What the proposal really does is create an unprecedented exemption for this new industry from future oversight.

A careful reading of the proposal reveals that, if adopted, it would amend the state Constitution so that the Legislature would be forbidden to design laws that "prevent, restrict, obstruct or discourage any stem cell research ... or create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research."

No other industry or enterprise enjoys such a blanket exemption in our Constitution. Though the Legislature daily debates the need for and extent of such regulations, there is no debate that at least some oversight of industry, research and medical practice is needed to protect the welfare of the public.

The field of organ transplantation provides a good example. Michigan law attempts to increase the pool of potential donors by allowing individuals to give consent for organ donation when applying for a driver's license. But Michigan law also "restricts" transplantation by outlawing the sale of organs, and preventing proxy consent for live kidney donations by children under the age of 14 and incompetent adults.

State law could also be said to "discourage" transplantation because harvesting of organs is restricted to licensed hospitals by licensed personnel, organs are required to be tested for the HIV virus, and the list of potential donors kept by the Secretary of State is exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Act. Moreover, earlier this year, Michigan's organ donation laws were updated to reflect changing trends in the field of transplantation and have since been used as a model by at least one other state.

In similar fashion, the state routinely updates laws regulating hospitals, acupuncturists, restaurants, barbers and countless other professions in order to ensure the public's safety. Next year, recognizing a new need, the state will require county health departments to begin inspecting tattoo parlors.

We cannot know today all the challenges or benefits embryonic stem cell research might hold for the future. Buying and selling of human eggs, mixing of human and animal DNA, viral contamination of stem cell cultures, the need to maintain patient records and confidentiality, licensing of private stem cell clinics or clinicians, or any number of other commercial or ethical issues might require state oversight.

It would be inadvisable to grant any new industry a constitutional exemption from state laws. It would be especially hazardous to grant such an exemption to embryonic stem cell research, not knowing what challenges the future will bring. Michigan voters should vote no on Proposal 2.

STATE SEN. TOM GEORGE, MD, is a Kalamazoo anesthesiologist and chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee.


James said...

This amendment does not allow unregulated research. Federal laws dictate the researchers "speed limit" and boundaries. Prop 2 simply asks to Michigan to be allowed to progress at the national speed limit with respect to research.

Ken said...

James, even if what you say is true, the greatest issue here is that humans (some refer to them as embryos) will have their lives snuffed out in the name of research. This is morally wrong. If there were no other reason to oppose Prop 2, that's reason enough.