Missouri Biotech Lobby Opposes Bill Banning Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Biotech Lobby Opposes Bill Banning Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 22, 2004

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Missouri biotech companies are opposing a proposal to ban embryonic stem cell research and all forms of human cloning in the Show Me State.

Representatives of four Missouri research institutions have sent a letter to legislators asking them to reject the proposed bill. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report says the letter told lawmakers that the research is vital to relieving human suffering and pumping up Missouri’s economy.

They worry that while states like California, Illinois and Wisconsin are looking to take the lead in funding the controversial research, Missouri will lag behind because it prohibits it.

"There are lots of incoming legislators for whom this issue will be brand new, and that presents a tremendous educational challenge," Donn Rubin, executive director of the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences, told the Associated Press.

Rubin says lawmakers are being misled about the bill but pro-life advocates contend its the biotech industry that isn’t playing straight.

While the bill bans embryonic stem cell research and the use of human cloning to create human embryos specifically to be killed for their stem cells, it does not ban the practice of stem cell research in its entirety.

Rep. Jim Lembke and Sen. Matt Bartle are the leading sponsors of the bill. They have been actively emailing colleagues information on cloning and stem cell research.

"The end doesn’t justify the means," Lembke told the Post-Dispatch. "I don’t believe in us building our economy on the backs of human embryos. I don’t believe that to (sacrifice) the life of one human being for the sake of the life of another human being is an ethical or moral thing to do."

The legislation is expected to draw support from leading pro-life groups such as the Missouri Catholic Conference and Missouri Right to Life.

Edward Martin, a local Catholic lawyer and chairman of the board of the St. Louis Center for Bioethics and Culture, says it will be difficult to educate lawmakers and the public on the subject.

When told that pro-life advocates oppose embryonic stem cell research, Martin says many people respond: "Don’t you want to help people with terrible diseases?"

Martin says pro-life groups must respond, "of course we do. But let’s do it in this way and not this way."

Missouri Right to Life helped pro-life legislators prepare for the debate. They held a conference for 70 elected officials on bioethics issues over the summer.

"We are very much aware that the biotech people are out there, and they’re trying to cloud the issue and distort the language of the issue," Pam Fichter, an MRL representative, said.

"Somatic cell nuclear transfer is a method of cloning that creates a self developing entity with a full human genetic code," Fichter told the St. Louis Review newspaper. "Embryonic stem cell research destroys that new life. I think many people have not been convinced that somatic cell nuclear transfer actually creates a human life."

William Danforth, chairman of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri system; Mark Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University; and William Neaves, president of the Stowers Institute for Medical Science in Kansas City all signed the letter to lawmakers.

Should the legislation be approved, the Stowers Institute has said it would not build a second facility in the state.

Related web sites:
Missouri Right to Life – https://www.missourilife.org