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Embryonic stem cell research tallies narrow win in Mo.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. (BP)–Missouri voters approved a state constitutional change Nov. 7 to protect embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.

Missouri Baptists, who donated $100,000 to fight the measure, along with other evangelical groups and Catholics battled hard against Amendment 2 but were outspent by a wide margin. Of about $30 million spent on the battle, $29 million was spent by Amendment 2 proponents.

The victory margin for Amendment 2 was razor-thin. According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, of the 2-million-plus votes cast, 50.7 percent voted “yes,” while 49.3 percent voted “no.”

Election results indicated that Amendment 2 was heavily opposed in rural parts of the state, but the vote in urban areas favored the measure by a wide margin.

Amendment opponents told Baptist Press that the battle is not finished, indicating that possible court tests are on the horizon.

“I am disappointed with the passage of Amendment 2,” said Susan Klein, the chief lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life and wife of a Missouri Baptist pastor. “We knew from the beginning that this was going to be an uphill battle. The proponents of Amendment 2 waged a battle of deception and they outspent us by a margin of more than 10-1.”

Klein said the defeat has pulled the pro-life community together across Missouri.

“We are not going away,” she said. “We are energized. We are going to look for ways to address the constitutionality of Amendment 2, including the possible court tests. We will continue to work for the truth.”

During the hard-fought campaign, Amendment 2 proponents argued that their initiative would protect the right of Missouri patients to have their diseases and injuries treated with any stem cell therapies and cures that are allowed by federal law.

Proponents also argued that Amendment 2 would place a strict ban on human cloning.

The Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity, however, pointed out Amendment 2 will permit a procedure called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, or SCNT, which is therapeutic cloning. This procedure is the same that produced the cloned sheep, Dolly.

Therapeutic cloning involves taking the nucleus of a human cell and inserting it into a human egg which has had its nucleus removed. The embryo is then stimulated to begin cell division. Once the cloning occurs, under Amendment 2 guidelines, embryonic stem cell researchers must then destroy the living human embryo to obtain the cells.

Amendment 2 language says the destruction must occur before the embryo is 14 days old. This, Amendment 2 opponents said, amounts to creating a life solely for the purpose of destroying a life.

C. Ben Mitchell, CBHD director, described the Amendment 2 victory as a “duping of Missouri voters.”

“This is no triumph for science; it is a victory of dishonesty and confusion -– a new Tower of Babel -– where words have no meaning,” Mitchell said. “While Amendment 2 claims to ban human cloning, it actually provides constitutional protection for human cloning, banning only the gestation of a human clone and then mandating the death of any human clones that are produced.”

Mitchell said Canada and several European countries have recognized the dangers related to “this kind of human cloning” and have outlawed the practice.

“Now, the citizens of Missouri have been tricked to protect it constitutionally,” Mitchell said. “You cannot sow the seeds of immorality into the constitution of the state and not harvest a whirlwind of problems in the future.”

    About the Author

  • Bob Baysinger