Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stem Cell Ballot Initative: A Prop 2 that actually works for MI

This is another post from a guest blogger, Julielyn Gibbons. Julielyn Gibbons has been fighting for those unheard voices in Michigan for nearly a decade both in Lansing and online as her nom de plume, Liberal Lucy. Diagnosed with a particularly severe case of Crohn's Disease while a teen, Julielyn's taken her own personal tragedy into a victory and is now one of Michigan's best known political voices and online strategists, recognized for efforts both in Michigan and nationally.

A terrible accident. A horrific diagnosis. A lifetime sentence of needles, medicine, or expensive medical equipment. Even worse, a terminal illness.

Juvenile Diabetes. Cancer. Alzheimer's. Parkinson's Disease. Spinal Cord Injury. ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Auto-Immune Diseases. Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Your mother, your child, your brother, your friend, your grandparent, your aunt. You.
I was 14. They said I had Crohn's Disease and they were without a reason for the illness, without a cure, without a real treatment.

Almost 15 years later, I'm missing my colon and rectum, among other miscellaneous parts and pieces. My body is a walking tribute to the skill of surgeons after 36 surgeries and almost 80 hospitalizations.

To stay alive and functioning in society, I require over $300 in ostomy supplies a month, not to mention the various treatments and medications that keep the other 'peripheral' conditions and illnesses at bay. I have a deep love-hate relationship with the insurance industry.

I'd like to have children some day, but I realize that if I'm even able to have children, which is unknown at this point because of my health, there's a great risk of passing my disease on. Do I want to do that to my child?

Not a day doesn't pass when I don't realize how lucky I am to be alive, but I also understand that there are millions that like me, suffer from illnesses and injuries that could be one day cured, so that we don't have to suffer.

But first we need the proper research to be done, and so much promise lies in stem cell research.

Unfortunately, Michigan is one of five states that lies in wait for progress to happen. Since 1978, we've been stuck in a Draconian period along with Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Louisiana; definitely some of the least progressive states in our Union.

Fortunately for us, that could change this November. We all have an opportunity to be a part of making a Cure happen for Michigan.

The ballot proposal, (Proposal 2) led by the Cure Michigan folks, would turn the current law right around, and put Michigan at the forefront of curing debilitating illnesses and conditions.

Despite the Extreme Right's moaning and belly-aching about the issue, it's a very practical solution that is quite a bit more 'pro-life' than the current standards. For instance, instead of throwing away unused embryos, parents who use fertility clinics have the option of donating them to helping find a cure. Right now, all they can do is have them thrown out. Seems like a waste, doesn't it?

A study has already found that more than half of all parents who benefit from fertility clinics are willing to donate their embryos to finding a much needed cure.

What's ironic is that under the current law, a researcher could be thrown in jail for up to 10 years for their work in finding a cure by using stem cell lines that would have been put in the trash. As a result, we've already heard the stories of the states that have benefited from our top researchers packing up and moving shop out of Michigan.

A change in Michigan could help cure our health and financial woes. It's a change that a majority of Michigan is already getting behind, as today's editorial from the Muskegon Chronicle highlights.

While you could say that my interest in the Cure Michigan campaign is selfish, there's a good chance that you have someone in your life who is either suffering now or has suffered in the past from an illness that could be helped or cured through stem cell research. In the end, we all benefit from finding a cure.

Get the facts, send it on to your friends, family, neighbors, and above all, let's make sure that we all check YES on November 4th. We can't afford not too.



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