Kentucky Media Hinders Push for Total Human Cloning Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kentucky Media Bias Hinders Push for Total Human Cloning Ban

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
December 3, 2003

Frankfort, KY ( — The media in Kentucky is set on promoting and using pro-cloning rhetoric as supporters on both sides of the issue look to the next session of the General Assembly to consider a ban on human cloning and embryonic stem cell research the necessitates the destruction of human life.

On November 23, the Louisville Courier-Journal ran a story covering a symposium sponsored by Right to Life Educational Foundation of Kentucky, but its coverage, including the misleading headline “Cloning Opponents to Make Major Push to Ban Research,” was “a near slanderous falsehood,” according to Michael Janocik, the pro-life group’s Associate Director.

Janocik said his organization does not oppose all stem cell research, only that which involves the destruction of human life.

The article stated that “University of Louisville and University of Kentucky officials say the importance of such work cannot be overstated.” 

“Sure it can,” retorted Janocik. “And [it] has been for several years. To date, there are no reported human therapies from either embryonic stem cell research or human cloning. The therapeutic stem cell breakthroughs to date are from adult, not embryonic stem cells.”

“After a three-hour symposium featuring perhaps the finest minds the subject has to offer, the Courier-Journal didn’t report what they said,” Janocik said. “Instead, absent the slightest hint of objectivity, it blindly parroted the political spin of the brave-new-world crowd.

One of those featured at the pro-life vent was California attorney Wesley Smith, whose picture appeared in the article with the caption stating he “spoke against stem-cell research,” during the symposium. He wrote a letter to the editor expressing his displeasure at the misrepresentation.

“I write to protest the grossly misleading and even false reporting of the speech I made,” began the letter. “The caption under my picture stated that I ‘spoke against stem cell research.’ I most certainly did not. I supported adult stem cell research in the most enthusiastic terms.”

In what Smith called “a most curious journalistic approach,” the reporter quoted rebuttals from University officials to statements by the speakers that went unreported in the article.

“It would have been nice if Mr. Allen’s story had accurately reported what transpired at the symposium,” concluded Smith. “Failing to do so did a distinct disservice to your readers.”

Janocik cited a particular instance in which the Courier-Journal and WHAS 11, a local ABC affiliate, regurgitated pro-cloning techniques.

“In therapeutic cloning, scientists manipulate cells in the first few days of development – when embryonic stem cells are derived from a hollow microscopic ball called a blastocyst,” reported WHAS 11 and the Courier Journal.

“A blastocyst is what an embryo is called at one week into its development, but it’s much easier to create and destroy a ‘hollow microscopic ball called a blastocyst’ than a human embryo, and it looks better in the newspapers,” commented Janocik.

Pro-Life groups are looking forward to next year’s legislative session, where they hope an anti-cloning ban will finally be passed. They are encouraged that Republican Governor-elect Ernie Fletcher will be in office. Fletcher voted for a ban on human cloning while in Congress.

“All his votes are pro-life,” said Margie Montgomery, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life.

For this very reason, the Courier-Journal attacked Fletcher in an editorial on Monday, saying he would be “a captive of narrow, ideological thinking” and would “immediately alienate many Kentuckians … who have loved ones hoping to benefit from this research,” despite the factual refutation Janocik and others have submitted to the newspaper.

A ban on cloning was passed in the Kentucky state House last year but was defeated in the Senate.

"This year, given the change in administration and the more pro-life culture down here in Frankfort, I think we’ve got a better chance," said Rep. Hoe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas), who proposed bills in the past two sessions to ban cloning, and will do so again next year.

The Massachusetts state Senate passed a provision in their state economic plan that would encourage destructive embryonic stem cell research in their state. It was removed before final passage by both houses.

"There are great states like Pennsylvania and Michigan that ban the destruction of embryonic stem cells, and they’re thriving in biotech," said Senator Marian Walsh (D-West Roxbury), one of the senators who had opposed the provision.