Big races in the region: beyond the heated run for the Oakland County Executive Office (between incumbent Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence), there are a few other elections this November that already have people talking. Take a look at two of them here.

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The Stem Cell Debate: Proposal 2 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.

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Senator

Tom George, MD,

Co-chair, MiCause

Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation

Vote--No

Proposal 2 goes too far by removing state and local oversight of research on live human embryos or embryonic stem cells. This proposed constitutional amendment provides that no state or local law may prevent, restrict, obstruct, discourage, or provide disincentives to any stem cell research. In other words, no laws would apply to stem cell research.

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Matters of commerce, patient safety, record keeping, donor and recipient privacy, and other unforeseen issues could not be regulated by state law. If a business were involved in stem cell experimentation that utilized hazardous viruses or animal DNA, the state would be prevented from overseeing it. Additionally, the licensing of clinics or technicians involved in embryonic stem cell research would not be possible under this constitutional amendment.

As written, Proposal 2 means that any individual or corporation, public or private, can conduct completely unregulated and unrestricted experimentation on embryonic stem cells or human embryos.

Among other things, the state regulates for ethical, health and safety reasons, organ donation, tattoo parlors, the Internet, manufacturing and the practice of medicine. Stem cell research should not be exempt from state or local laws and oversight. There are many examples of hospitals, universities and scientific self-regulation failing the public. That is why it is dangerous to put this exemption in our state constitution.

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