Difference between revisions of "Michigan Stem Cell Amendment, Proposal 2 (2008)"

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Revision as of 12:41, 28 January 2010

Michigan Constitution
Seal of Michigan.png
Michigan Stem Cell Amendment, Proposal 2 (2008), also known as "Cure Michigan," was on the November 2008 ballot in Michigan as a initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

The amendment enacted the allowance of the donation of embryos produced in fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded, and the allowance of researchers to create embryonic stem cell cultures to study disease. It would allow government funding of stem-cell research. Human cloning would continue to be illegal.


After the approval of Proposal 2, the University of Michigan began to receive several inquiries from potential donors, however the acceptance of embryos was delayed because according to the university they needed time to conduct ethical, legal and medical reviews. In December 2009, the university announced that they have established procedures and expect to begin new lines of stem cells by mid-2010. The university's research is said to focus on studying specific diseases.

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

Also in December 2009, the Michigan Senate announced that they plan on deciding on proposed state guidelines for embryonic stem cell research. The proposed guidelines are opposed by university researchers and Proposal 2 (2008) supporters.[1] According to stem cell researchers the proposed bill contradicts the intention of Proposal 2 and "would prevent the donation of embryos with known genetic defects that scientists most want to study."[2]

Election results

Michigan Stem Cell Initiative:
Votes Percentage
15px-600px-Yes check.png Yes 2,522,976 53%
No 2,272,903 47%
Total votes 4,795,879 100%

Results according to the Michigan Secretary of State[3]


The initiative is sponsored by the Stem Cell Research Ballot Question Committee (BCQ). The same committee tried to get a similar stem cell initiative on the 2006 ballot but failed to collect sufficient signatures. Former Speaker Rich Johnson and former Congressman Joe Schwarz have been supporters of the initiative as well.[4]

The group believes that stem-cell research could lead to cure for Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, and juvenile diabetes.

Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Proposal 2 and is helping to raise money for the campaign to pass the measure.[5]

Clinton called the measure "pro-life, pro-health, pro-science and definitely pro-Michigan." He added, "It's not a fight between Republicans and Democrats, not a fight between the Left and the Right, and it's certainly not a fight between pro-life and pro-choice."[6]

Michigan joins North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Arkansas in having the nation's most restrictive laws on stem cell research. Scientists in Michigan who use human embryos for stem cell research can face 10 years in prison and up to a $10 million fine, according to the Michigan Stem Cell Research Ballot Question Committee.

Medical News Today endorsed the measure in an Ocober editorial, noting that the embryonic stem cell research ban damages the ability of the University of Michigan, one of the "leading stem cell research centers," to conduct cutting-edge embryonic stem cell research and to recruit leading researchers.[7]

Kristina Wilfore of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a national organization that advocates for liberal ballot measures, has written that "progressives should feel good" about the initiative.[8]

Study shows big benefits

A new study from Michigan Prospect, a public policy group, indicates that embryonic stem cell research could help hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan, save millions per year in health care costs, and create jobs in the state's growing biotech economy.[9]

The study looked at seven common illnesses that embryonic stem cells could potentially treat: Type I diabetes, Parkinson's disease, acute heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, and Lou Gehrig's disease.[9]

Allen Goodman, the study's lead author and a Wayne State University economics professor, said that more than 770,000 people in Michigan had those illnesses in 2006 and that advances derived from stell-cell research could shave $80 million off the $8-billion annual treatment costs.[9]

"Because we are one of five states, the largest of five states that make this research difficult, 1% is a conservative estimate," he said. "It's a small, but positive impact, here in Michigan."[9]

The study is based on research that would be funded privately or through institutional funds. Goodman said if the state invested in the research, the potential savings would be higher.[9]

Relaxed restrictions on embryonic stem cell research would create about 443 well-paying jobs, Goodman said, and 354 jobs in other sectors as a result. Researchers have said Michigan's restrictions make it difficult to attract top biomedical talent. "An environment that forbids you to do something sends you away," said Jim Eliason, an adult stem cell researcher at WSU and a consultant to the study.[9]

The study was funded by foundations, unions, and education groups, including Michigan Citizens for Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Cures.[9]


Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science & Experimentation (MiCAUSE) is leading the opposition campaign. The group is co-chaired by State Sen. Tom George (R-Kalamazoo) and Patricia McDonald.[10]

"This proposal is deceptive and is hazardous because it will allow unregulated and unrestricted experimentation on human embryos," said George, a practicing physician.[10]

McDonald added, "As a cancer patient and former head of a nonprofit health care organization, I'm concerned about the false promises made by promoters of this proposal."[10]

Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference have also organized to oppose the issue. While the groups support stem cells taken from adults or umbilical cords, they oppose the methods that include the destruction of embryos.

Right to Life is planning a statewide ad blitz campaign, spending $200,000, hoping to dissuade petition signers. The Michigan Catholic Conference is starting an informational campaign and mailing it to 500,000 households.

Television ads pro and con

The Cure Michigan campaign launched their ad campaign Sept. 26, 2008, running a 30-second ad that attacks an ad being run by Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation, which opposes the measure. The opponents ad says that the proposal would be costly for taxpayers. But the Cure Michigan ad says that charge is a lie and that the measure doesn't call for "one cent of taxpayer money."[11]

While Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation acknowledges that the measure doesn't directly call for taxpayer funds, they say that supporters of the measure have said that they intend to seek goivernment funding for stem cell research.[11]

One of MiCAUSE's anti-Proposal 2 ads claims that the initiative would entice for-profit companies to establish research-and-development operations in Michigan where they would be able to conduct unrestricted stem cell experimentation. Ominous music plays while the logos and headquarter facades of fictitious corporations with names like Embrolux, HumanHarvest and Cloneway flash across the screen.[12]

Michigan medical society

The Michigan Medical Society took a neutral position on this ballot measure, as well as on two other initiatives related to health care (the Health Care for Michigan Initiative and the Coalition for Compassionate Care Initiative) at its annual delegates meeting in early May 2008.[13]

Poll shows voter support

See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.

A Detroit Free Press/Local 4 poll taken from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31, 2008, showed 51% of respondents approving the measure, with 40% opposed. That indicates a drop in support from a late September poll conducted for the same media outlets.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, had a sample of 616 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.[14]

An Oct. 26-28 poll of 600 likely voters by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit News and TV stations WXYZ, WILX, WOOD and WJRT found 46% favoring the stem cell proposal and 44% opposed. That poll also had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.[15]

A Detroit Free Press/Local 4 Michigan Poll conducted Sept. 22-24, 2008, showed 58% of respondents in favor of Proposal 2, with 31% opposed and 11% undecided. The poll was based on telephone interviews with 602 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.[16]

Campaign funding

In the final weeks leading up to the November election, both sides have raised significant sums for their campaigns. As of Oct. 24, 2008, Cure Michigan had raised $8.3 million, with $2 million of that coming in between Oct. 20th and Oct. 24th. MiCAUSE had raised $3.7 million for the opposition campaign as of Oct. 19, 2008, with about $1.2 million more coming in between Oct. 20th and Oct. 24th.[17]

Cure Michigan raised $2.2 million between Jan. 1 and Sept. 18, 2008, and spent almost all of it to get the issue on the ballot. Among its largest donors are the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert, the A. Alfred Taubman Restated Trust, philanthropist Robert Thompson, and former Blue Cross Blue shield of Michigan leader Richard Whitmer.[18]

MiCAUSE, which opposes to Proposal 2, raised $594,000 between its formation in Summmer 2008 and Sept. 18, 2008. Most of the contributions came from the Michigan Catholic Conference ($500,000) and Right to Life of Michigan ($35,000).[18] [19]


The measure was certified for the November ballot on Aug. 21, 2008, as Proposal 2.[20] Supporters submitted more than 570,000 signatures on July 7, 2008. At least 380,126 valid signatures are required to earn the measure a place on the November ballot.[21] [22] [23]

The initiative was officially announced on January 24th and the language was submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State on January 30th.[24]

See also


External links

Additional reading


  1. Detroit Free Press,"University of Michigan ready to get embryos for research," December 9, 2009
  2. Associated Press,"Mich. legislators tinker with voter-approved laws," January 23, 2010
  3. Michigan Department of State: "Election Results"
  4. OL Exclusive Analysis: Stem Cell Research Ballot Committee Has Self-Dealing Issues & a History, Outside Lansing blog, Nov. 6, 2007
  5. Detroit Free Press: "Bill Clinton to help Michigan's stem cell proposal," Oct. 7, 2008
  6. United Press International: "Clinton boosts Mich. stem-cell referendum," Oct. 11, 2008
  7. Medical News Today: "Editorial Endorses Michigan Embryonic Stem Cell Research Initiative," Oct. 6, 2008
  8. Huffington Post, Ballot Initiatives in 2008: Change Vs. More of the Same, June 12, 2008
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Detroit Free Press: "Study: Stem cell research would help Michigan," Sept. 16, 2008
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Detroit News: "Stem cell study battle heats up," Aug. 12, 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Detroit Free Press: "Michigan stem cell research supporters launch ad campaign," Sept. 26, 2008
  12. Detroit Free Press: "What stem cell report really says," Oct. 8, 2008
  13. Detroit News: "Medical Society takes 'neutral' position on stem cell ballot initative," May 4, 2008
  14. Detroit Free Press: "Stem cells are up, but support down," Nov. 2, 2008
  15. Associated Press: "Poll: Stem cell, medical marijuana led in Michigan," Nov. 2, 2008
  16. Detroit Free Press: "Michigan voters support use of medical marijuana, stem cells," Sept. 30, 2008
  17. Crain's Detroit Business: "Stem cell research campaign contributions flow in," Oct. 27, 2008
  18. 18.0 18.1 Detroit Free News: "Stem-cell proposal fight cost less than $3 million," Sept. 26, 2008
  19. Campaign Finance Report, Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation
  20. Detroit Free Press: "Michigan voters to decide on medical marijuana, stem cell research," Aug. 21, 2008
  21. Detroit Free Press: "Push is on to lift stem-cell research ban," July 3, 2008
  22. WWMT-TV News: "Stem cell proposal may be on the November ballot," July 7, 2008
  23. Record-Eagle: "Op-Ed: Stem cells likely biggest issue in Nov.," July 13, 2008
  24. Detroit Free Press: "Stem-cell ballot language submitted," Jan. 30, 2008