Carrying on Michigan’s newfound tradition of controversial Proposal 2s, this year’s lucky No. 2 would legalize the use by researchers of embryonic stem cells that would have otherwise been discarded. Read that carefully because opponents of the ballot initiative have implied that it would do everything from waste your tax money to revive racist and unregulated science. When this initiative is debated on its merits, though, it’s obvious that voters must say yes to Proposal 2, for the future of medical research, our economy and our state.

Michigan is currently one of the most restrictive states for stem cell research. Our state prohibits researchers from doing anything that would damage or destroy a human embryo, even if that embryo was going to be thrown away. That ban has effectively outlawed embryonic stem cell research. Proposal 2 would bring Michigan up to speed with the rest of the country, allowing the use of embryos that are donated from fertility clinics and would otherwise be discarded.

That’s a necessary change. The current laws make Michigan an inhospitable place for scientific research. Though we have one of the best stem cell research facilities in the country right here at the University of Michigan, the brightest minds in this field are relocating to states where they can do their work more freely. The result is that Michigan is missing out on the economic benefits of increased support for research.

And this is research for a good cause. Embryonic stem cell research has enormous potential to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and save lives. Though opponents of embryonic stem cell research are quick to count-off the cures found from less controversial adult stem cells, the potential of these cells is comparatively limited. This is because stem cells become partially differentiated after 14 days, meaning that they no longer have the potential to become any type of cell in the body.

Both sides of the stem cell debate claim that saving lives is their principle goal. While curing diseases is the aim of Proposal 2 proponents, opponents of the initiative say that any type of embryo is a life and that using these embryos for research is effectively destroying that life. That argument might carry some water, except for the fact that these embryos are being discarded already. At the very least, permitting research on them will mean that embryonic stem cells are not being wasted.

The most despicable part of Proposal 2 is how opponents of it have turned it into something it isn’t. The proposal does not call for taxpayer’s money and does not need public funding. It doesn’t open the door for human cloning — that is still illegal under Michigan law. And lastly, it doesn’t allow unrestricted genetic research. Comparing Proposal 2 to the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, as a recent television ad does, is a dishonest ploy meant to scare voters.

Proposal 2 will finally put Michigan on a level playing field with other states in the battle for research. Embryonic stem cell research presents two great possibilities: the possibility to brighten Michigan’s economic future and save human lives from terrible diseases. The Daily emphatically endorses a necessary YES vote on Proposal 2.

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