JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–Amendment 2 –- labeled as the “Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative” –- may have a number of hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality in Missouri.
Missouri Baptist representatives met with other members of the Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC) coalition Nov. 14 to explore opportunities the group hopes will negate or limit the effects of Amendment 2.
“All options are on the table,” said Susan Klein, a lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life and wife of a Missouri Baptist pastor. “The Missouri Baptist Convention is still a part of the coalition and we are very optimistic about addressing the deceptions of Amendment 2.”
Missourians gave narrow approval to Amendment 2 at the polls on Nov. 7 by a 51.2-48.8 percent margin. The MAHC coalition campaigned hard against the proposed change in the state constitution, contending that it pretended to ban human cloning when, in fact, it protected cloning of human embryos by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT).
Klein said the attack against Amendment 2 will be on three different fronts -– litigation, legislation and possibly a counter initiative petition effort.
Also present at the Nov. 14 organizational meeting was Mike Whitehead, an attorney for the Missouri Baptist Convention. Whitehead noted that one Kansas City family in the bio-tech industry gave most of the $30 million that was poured into the campaign for Amendment 2. “Expect [the bio-tech industry] to pretend that a ‘Missouri mandate’ has changed the law and cleared the way for embryonic stem cell research,” Whitehead predicted. “Of course, there was no mandate, only a razor-thin margin.
“Also, expect [the industry] to seek new appropriations bills to be introduced in the state legislature, seeking millions of dollars in public funding for ESCR [embryonic stell cell research] in Missouri.”
The coalition agreed that Missouri legislators will face “a tremendous amount of pressure” to approve money for embryonic stem cell research. Coalition members believe, however, this may be a problem for Amendment 2 proponents because the Missouri legislature is decidedly pro-life.
Larry Weber, a member of the coalition and also an attorney for the Missouri Catholic Conference, said a strong campaign will be mounted to get Missouri pro-life voters to contact legislators and ask them not to approve money for embryonic stem cell research.
Whitehead said he expects BioTech to speak with new candor about how long it may take before there are any cures, referencing reports since the Nov. 7 vote that embryonic stem cell research is in its infancy and treatments are years, if not decades, away.
Whitehead said he believes the defeat at the polls on Nov. 7 actually has energized Missouri’s pro-life community.
“The cloners cannot seriously believe that ESCR in Missouri is legally more secure today than it was before the vote,” Whitehead said. “Now, they have to worry about a million energized voters who could launch a new petition drive to repeal or reform Amendment 2. Or perhaps a petition-drive to ban -– really ban -– the cloning of human embryos in Missouri.
“Lawmakers and lobbyists who oppose the research have pledged to continue fighting research on early stem cells by keeping Amendment 2 tied up in court,” Whitehead continued. “They have said they plan to attach restrictions on stem cell research to legislation next year in violation of the amendment’s protections.
“Such moves may further delay plans to expand such research at the Stowers Institute [for Medical Research in Kansas City] as well as state universities.”
Other possibilities, Whitehead said, are:
— Court action to try to repeal Amendment 2 by alleging that the state amendment violates the U.S. Constitution and its guarantee of equal protection, not preferential treatment of one industry over another.
— Lawsuits to “reveal Amendment 2” for the fraud that it contains such as protecting young women from exploitation in egg harvesting.
“A slim majority of voters in Missouri fell for this ‘deception-by-redefinition amendment,” Whitehead said. “They took the bait-and-switch.
“But the battle continues. We have seen God move and intervene in amazing ways many times in this campaign. The battle is not over. It has just begun.”