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Mo. proposal would ban cloning, reverse parts of Amend. 2

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (BP)–Human cloning in Missouri will become illegal if a plan announced Dec. 19 by Missourians Against Human Cloning is successful.

Missouri state Sen. Matt Bartle, and state Rep. Jim Lembke, both members of the MAHC, announced that they will file senate and house resolutions in January to place on the November 2008 Missouri ballot a proposed change in the state constitution they say would place “a genuine ban” on human cloning in Missouri.

Missouri voters narrowly approved a state constitutional amendment in November to protect embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning in the state. Opponents of that amendment claimed it was promoted deceptively: Although the ballot language said the amendment would ban cloning, the text of the amendment itself said “somatic cell nuclear transfer” — the scientific name for cloning — would be allowed. In reality, the amendment simply banned reproductive cloning while protecting therapeutic cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the same procedure that produced the cloned sheep, Dolly.

Bartle, a Southern Baptist, said his proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would “take out of the Missouri constitution what voters put in the constitution with the passage of Amendment 2.”

The proposed constitutional amendment will be short and easy to understand, Bartle said.

“There are only 46 words on our amendment,” he said.

Jacki Winship, who heads Missourians Against Human Cloning, said the proposed amendment will be “unlike those that have hidden their pro-cloning agenda behind the smoke and mirrors of a deceptive and complicated 2,200-word amendment.”

“We will continue to share the truth in simple, honest and scientifically accurate terms with the voters of Missouri,” Winship said.

Said Bartle, “We know that most Missourians to do not want to constitutionally protect human cloning. And they certainly don’t want their tax dollars paying for it. What we are proposing is a genuine ban on human cloning.”

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. Amendment 2 guidelines stipulate that once the cloning occurs, embryonic stem cell researchers must then destroy the living human embryo to obtain the cells.

“Missouri law specifically allows scientists to use the same exact procedure that was used to clone Dolly the Sheep,” Bartle said. “We believe that, when given the opportunity, Missourians will vote overwhelmingly to ban human cloning permanently.

“Unless we close these massive loopholes in Missouri law, human cloning will take place in Missouri in the foreseeable future. We need to take steps no to close these loopholes.”

The November vote to protect SCNT in Missouri gained a narrow victory with 51 percent of voters affirming the measure. Election results indicated that Amendment 2 was heavily opposed in most legislative districts, but the state’s two urban areas provided the victory margin.

Bartle said he expects legislators to place the constitutional ban on cloning before Missouri voters because there was an “incredible closing of the gap” in the closing days of the November campaign.

“And I expect the closing of that gap to continue,” Bartle said. “If the campaign had gone on for another week, the outcome would have been different. That’s why we want to give voters another chance to look at this issue in 2008.

“Amendment 2 failed in a majority of legislative districts. This is why I believe there is a chance the legislature will support this. The more light we shine on this issue, the more opposition there will be to human cloning.”

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  • Bob Baysinger