Opening the Door in Detroit: Our Efforts to Advance Medical Research
Michigan's current laws on stem cell research are considered within the scientific community to be more restrictive than federal laws and policies enacted by many other states. NCJW has resolved to work for research and funding for advances in medicine, and the NCJW Greater Detroit Section has been faithfully putting this commitment into action for years through its statewide advocacy efforts.
More than three years ago, a diverse coalition of individuals and groups -- including patient advocacy and human service organizations, business and civic leaders, nonprofit organizations, research and medical organizations, policy makers, the academic community, and individual residents -- came together to form the nonprofit organization Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures. The NCJW Greater Detroit Section was one of two nonprofit organizations representing the Jewish community in this coalition.
Through the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research & Cures, our section has been very active on this advocacy issue. Most recently, we’ve been involved with efforts confronting the state’s restrictive laws. After Michigan state legislators were stymied in passing legislation to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research, a citizens’ initiative was created to place a proposal on the November 2008 ballot that would amend the state constitution and loosen the existing research restrictions.
In conjunction with these broader initiatives, our goals focused on informing the citizens of Michigan about the tremendous potential for stem cell research to unlock cures and treatments for patients with devastating illness and injuries. Not only were our educational efforts successful, but I am proud to report that the November elections brought a legislative victory, too: voters across the state showed their support for embryonic stem cell research and passed the ballot measure.
We are thrilled that these efforts have helped open the door for stem cell research that could one day lead to cures and treatments. But the coalition work and grassroots advocacy do not stop there. The NCJW Greater Detroit Section will continue to educate and inform Michigan citizens about the next steps and new developments in promising stem cell research, in Michigan and beyond.
Fern is an SPA Co-Chair from the NCJW Greater Detroit Section and a life member of NCJW.