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    On March 9, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that reverses the limitations on stem cell research instituted by President George W. Bush. Bush's limitations allowed for federal funds to be used by scientists to study human embryonic stem cells, but he opposed the use of stem cells that were created by dismantling embryos; he made this obvious by limiting the use of federal funds to embryos that were made before he signed these restrictions into law.

    President Obama has been quoted as commenting on this executive order: "...government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral value. In this case, I believe the two are inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly." (2)

    .

    This executive order has become increasingly relevant in Michigan due to the opening of a consortium to develop stem cell lines at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan announced that its initiative will make efforts in finding cures for many different injuries and diseases.

    There are two sides to this argument. Those who support this executive order argue for it because it allows scientists to search for a cure to diseases that take the lives of many individuals every day. They argue that this initiative will help provide coercion to the Michigan family by reducing the amount of stress and emotional pain associated with the discovery of disease.

    Those who oppose this executive order discuss the idea that this sort of scientific experimentation is immoral and threatens the sanctity of human life. They base their arguments significantly on religious grounds and put much emphasis on the fact that there is destruction of the human embryo in order to perform research on these stem cell lines.

    There are many organizations that are opposed to this executive order on stem cell research. In Michigan, the Michigan Catholic Conference has avidly opposed the use of dismantled human embryonic stem cells for research. The Vice President for Public Relations, Paul A. Long, was quoted on Obama's executive order: "...the President today will sign an executive order that makes every tax-paying American citizen unwittingly complicit in the destruction of human embryos for experimental research...destroying human embryos is, in fact, taking the life of an innocent human being." (3)

    Despite the strength and efforts exerted by those who opposed this initiative, these changes have been instituted due to the combination of the passing of Proposal 2 and this executive order. Michigan now has the ability to conduct this type of scientific research . We will look to the University of Michigan's A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute Consortium , which will be collaborating with not only the University of Michigan's medical school, but also with Michigan State University and Wayne State University's medical schools, for future progress on this very controversial experimentation.

    Additional links:

    University of Michigan's Center for Stem Cell Biology

    Michigan Policy Network's Health Care Policy Fellow article on Proposition 2-2008.

    State Constitution excerpt regarding the amendments made to Article 1 from Prop. 2.

     

    References:

    1 - What Obama's Executive Order on Stem Cells Means. Los Angeles Times. 10 March 2009. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-na-obama-stem-cellqanda10-2009mar10,0,4096648.story?page=2.

    2 - Obama for America: President Obama's Executive Order on Stem Cell Research: "Restoring scientific integrity" : Hass, Christopher. 9 March 2009. http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/obamaforamerica/gGxNCf

    3 - Embryonic Stem Cell Research Executive Order Places Politics Ahead of Science. 9 March 2009. http://www.micatholicconference.org/public_policy/press_releases/20090309-ESCRExecutiveOrder.php.

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    Jocelyn Cutean serves as Morality and Family policy correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student at Michigan State, majoring in Theatre and English. Jocelyn has experience working on the executive board of the Waterford Chapter Coalition for Youth. She has also piloted a grant funded city wide public service announcement entitled, "It Just Wasn't Worth It" which exposes the repercussions of driving while intoxicated. Jocelyn enjoys art of all forms, from writing to performance.