by Steven Ertelt
February 10, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new coalition of groups in Missouri has formed to back embryonic stem cell research and oppose bills in the state legislature that would curtail the practice of human cloning.
Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures features 60 different organizations including the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and Washington University in St. Louis.
The coalition will oppose HB 457 and SB 160, which prohibit all forms of human cloning, including cloning to create human embryos to be destroyed in research.
"The proposed legislation is a misguided attempt to ban somatic cell nuclear transfer by defining it as ‘human cloning,’" said Dr. William Neaves, President and CEO of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, one of the Missouri research facilities that is conducting embryonic stem cell research.
"In fact, SCNT makes stem cells — not babies,’ Dr. Neaves claimed.
However, according to the unanimous conclusion of the President’s Council on Bioethics, the act of human SCNT creates a "cloned human embryo."
Moreover, as the Council concluded, "The same activity [SCNT] may be undertaken for purposes of producing children or for purposes of scientific and medical investigation and use."
Pam Fichter of Missouri Right to Life agrees that the process is really human cloning.
"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."
Earlier this month, Missouri lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bills, sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle.
David Prentice, a Georgetown University researcher, spoke in favor of the bill and told committee members that adult stem cell research is just as effective as destroying human life for embryonic stem cells.
"Embryonic stem cells are unlikely to be of clinical use, and this issue is ethically contentious," Prentice said, according to a Columbia Missourian report.