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October 09, 2008 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-10-09

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Health &Fit ness


A Matter Of Life from page B9

On The Ballot

This is what Proposal 2 says: 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 treat-
ment purposes; are not suitable for implantation or are in excess of clinical
needs; would be discarded unless used for research; were donated by the per-
son 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
•Prohibit state and local laws that prevent, restrict or discourage stem cell
research, future therapies and cures.

Should this Proposal be adopted?

Job Creator
While Proposal 2 had been attacked as a
future drain on state taxpayers, research by
Dr. Allen Goodman, professor of economics
at Wayne State University in Detroit, takes
another perspective. He says that just a 1
percent increase in biotech employment
made possible by Proposal 2 would bring
in almost 800 new jobs to the state with
increased taxable payroll of $51 million.
Over the long term, Goodman says advances
from stem cell research have the potential of
reducing state health care costs by $80 million
annually. It would boost productivity by reduc-
ing time lost to the effects of debilitating dis-
eases by $27 million,"a real potential solution
to Michigan's health care crisis'."
He also estimates that it could save the
lives of 770,000 Michigan patients with


Stem cell movie
focuses on the

Suzanne Chessler

Special to the Jewish News


n the way to becoming a doc-
tor, Michael Rubyan became
a documentary filmmaker. His
most recent cinema project, Life is for
the Living, merges both of his interests.
The film, introduced by famed CBS
60 Minutes broadcast journalist Mike
Wallace and featuring medical experts
and people coping with disease,
explores the dramatic healing possibili-
ties of embryonic stem cells that other-
wise would be discarded.
Free showings of the award-winning
production are scheduled Oct.15,16,
and 22 at area theaters. Each showing
will be followed by a question-and-
answer session featuring the filmmak-
ers and filmed experts, such as Dr. Joe
Schwarz, a former congressman, and
State Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale.
"I had been thinking about different
ideas for films just before I attended
a campus meeting about stem cell
research and instantly knew what I
was going to do," says Rubyan, 21, a
University of Michigan senior and film
"I wanted to tell the stories of people


October 9 • 2008

Michael Rubyan and his mother, Deborah Orley, believe their Jewish values worked
into the making of this film.

who could be impacted by stem cell
research, and I wanted to provide the
details of the science."
In addition to the stories of families,
Life is for the Living covers the sci-
ence and politics related to stem cell
research from the initial discovery of
embryonic stem cells in 1998 by Dr.
James Thomson of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. The film includes
interviews with the nation's leading
scientific researchers, political leaders
and advocates including former U.S.
Attorney General Janet Reno, Michigan
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Sen. Carl
Levin,D-Detroit, Dr. Sean Morrison,
director of the U-M Center for Stem
Cell Biology, and Dr. Clive Svendsen, co-
director of the University of Wisconsin-
Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative
Medicine Center.
The film premiered to a crowd of
more than 1,000 people at the Michigan

Theater in Ann Arbor. Since then, Life
is for the Living has been screened in
many states across the country. On
Sept. 21, it was shown to a standing-
room-only crowd at the 2008 World
Stem Cell Summit at UW-Madison,
where it was introduced by Svendsen.

Ready Cooperation

Rubyan, a graduate of Hillel Day School
of Metropolitan Detroit in Farmington
Hills and West Bloomfield High School,
raised $115,000 from various contribu-
tors to go ahead with the project, which
was chosen the best documentary at
the East Lansing Film Festival and won
the Sojourner Truth Award at the Battle
Creek Film Festival.
While money was not accepted from
advocating organizations, the movie
does delve into the political issues
associated with the use of stem cells.
As the film was being mapped out,

injuries and incurable diseases.
The ban on creating embryonic stem cell
lines for research dates back to a 1978 state
law, which illegalized destruction of human
embryos for that purpose. Advocates point
out, however, that the language of Proposal 2
clearly limits new cell lines to embryos that
otherwise would have been discarded by
fertility clinics and other such facilities.
Micause's Doyle is one of those who could
benefit from passage of Proposal 2. He has
lived with multiple sclerosis for 10 years and
has been in a wheelchair for the last four.
"I am constantly looking for information
about treatment of this disease," he says. "But
I have concluded that embryonic stem cell
research isn't it. When you walk through the

A Matter Of Life on page B12

Rubyan found much cooperation as he
contacted people he wanted to appear
in the documentary.
Rubyan's most enthusiastic collabo-
rator was his mom, Deborah Orley, who
has worked in developing films for mar-
keting and advertising. She chose to
use her pen name to avoid distracting
attention away from the subject of the
film to the mother-son filmmakers.
Orley has helped her son pursue his
cinema-making interests since he was
"I love film as a way to communicate,
and I believe my son and I have comple-
mentary skills," Orley says. "While he
has lots of technical knowledge and
understands how to work with people
to make things happen, I am more com-
fortable with writing and coaching."
The Rubyans, members of
Congregation Beth Ahm in West
Bloomfield, believe that their Jewish
values have been an important part of
making this documentary.
"We wanted to tell the real stories
about the people who could benefit
from stem cell research," Rubyan
explains. "We introduce patients with
Parkinson's, diabetes and spinal cord
injuries and hope that viewers can learn
from them and the scientists who give
their points of view." ri
Life Is for the Living can be seen
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at
the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main,
Royal Oak; 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Maple Art
Theatre, 4135 W. Maple, Bloomfield
Hills; and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct.
22, at the Michigan Theater, 603
E. Liberty, Ann Arbor. For more
information, go to
www.lifeisfortheliving.org .

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