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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) The hottest campaign in Michigan this fall features no candidate, but an embryo.
In the fight over Proposal 2, advocates and opponents are spending millions to shape voter opinion on a proposal to loosen current restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in the state.
In West Michigan, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos has given $200,000 to fight the proposal to free up state funds for the research, according to recent campaign finance statements.
Meanwhile, Pete Wege, the retired Steelcase executive, pitched in with $100,000 to Cure Michigan, the committee trying to pass the Nov. 4 ballot issue to expand the research.
Records show more than $7.5 million had been spent statewide through Oct. 19 promoting or attacking the proposed amendment. Most of the cash raised by the two sides is funding weeks of statewide television advertising. In the absence of a bare-fisted fight for president or U.S.
Senate in Michigan, the Proposal 2 campaign is the most contentious statewide political battle of the season.
Michigan is one of three states that bar the destruction of a human embryo for laboratory research purposes. That restricts research in Michigan to stem cell lines created before August 2001 that qualify for federal funding, or to stem cell lines derived from embryos in other states.
Proposal 2 would change that. The proposed amendment to Michigan’s constitution would allow federally regulated research on otherwise discarded Michigan embryos created through in-vitro fertilization and donated by the person receiving the fertility treatment.
Proponents argue current state law chills important biomedical research in a state that has committed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in the past 10 years to build a burgeoning life sciences research industry.
The amendment would specifically bar state and local laws that “discourage” such research and allow any embryo research permitted by federal law to be conducted in Michigan, as is the case in 47 other states.
By Ted Roelofs and Peter Luke
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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