by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 10, 2005
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A bill to ban human cloning has died in the Missouri legislature. Sen. Matt Bartle, the Republican bill sponsor, has decided to pull the bill after encountering strong dissent from within his own party.
“It’s become pretty obvious to me a long time ago that there is more than enough political will to kill the bill," Bartle told the Columbia Daily Tribune newspaper.
However, a move to ban human cloning in Missouri could be resurrected in the future.
Bartle’s bill would have banned somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT. In SCNT, the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is removed and replaced with the nucleus of a body cell. The cell that results is then stimulated to divide and form an embryo of about 150 cells. Embryonic stem cells are extracted from the human embryo, and the embryo is destroyed.
The bill had support from right-to-life groups, but was opposed by the University of Missouri and other research institutions.
The measure has led to dissention in the Republican Party, with former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth opposing it and Gov. Matt Blunt threatening to veto the measure.
Sen. Chris Koster (R-Harrisonville) supported the ban in committee, but criticized the effort on the floor. The former prosecutor claimed that an embryo created in a petri dish was not human, but is comparable to hair or fingernail cells.
But Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) challenged Koster, saying, “I have to err on the side of considering that potential for human life that’s represented in that cell."
While the measure won strong support from right-to-life groups such as Missouri Right to Life and the Missouri Catholic Conference, a number of politicians who are normally considered to be pro-life opposed the bill. One lawmaker said that, if the bill passed and was vetoed by the Governor, “it will blow the pro-life forces of this state apart."
But Bartle complained about the fact that office holders feared voting on the bill.
“I’m frustrated that we’re not willing to come to a vote because we’re afraid of the political consequences," Bartle said.
Debate on the bill ended when Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) asked Bartle to set the measure aside. Shields said he would be willing to revisit the issue if a compromise could be worked out. Bartle has said he would be willing to impose a three-year moratorium on SCNT.
Earlier this year, Jim Cole of Missouri Right to Life wrote of the necessity to ban human cloning. “Although the institutions that want to clone humans have been arguing that the procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is not cloning, they are not telling the full story. SCNT is the cloning procedure that produced Dolly the sheep a decade ago," Cole wrote.
Cole added, “Enacting a straightforward ban on all forms of cloning is a top priority of the pro-life movement in 2005."
A number of scientists have confirmed that embryonic stem cell research is far less effective than adult stem cell research, which does not involve the destruction of human embryos.
Related web sites:
Missouri Right to Life – https://www.missourilife.org