Missouri Senator Jim Talent Under Fire for Stem Cell Research Flip-Flop

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Senator Jim Talent Under Fire for Stem Cell Research Flip-Flop Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 13, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Missouri Republican Sen. Jim Talent, who is pro-life on the issue of abortion, is coming under fire for flip-flopping on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. Talent spoke on the floor of the Senate Friday afternoon and explained that he no longer backs a Congressional bill banning all forms of human cloning.

Talent had been a longtime co-sponsor of the measure, sponsored by pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback, and had been a darling of the pro-life movement. That may change.

During his speech, Talent reaffirmed his opposition to human cloning and said he supported efforts to find new ways of obtaining embryonic stem cell research that don’t destroy human embryos.

"It now appears possible to get stem cells without cloning an embryo," he said. The new discoveries render the bill "obsolete," and "signals the end of the ethical dilemma in this type of research."

He also used a tactic normally employed by embryonic stem cell research proponents in claiming the bill would prohibit research that does not involve human cloning.

Larry Weber, the legal counsel for the Missouri Catholic conference said that’s not correct.

"In fact, the Brownback bill clearly prohibits only somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) that creates living human embryos," he said.

He and other pro-life leaders are strongly criticizing Talent’s flip-flop on the bill.

"Talent is trying to have it both ways. He wants to appear to be softening his position … while still claiming to be pro-life and against human cloning," Weber said.

"We expect more courageous leadership from Sen. Talent," he added.

Talent’s position change comes in advance of what may be a difficult re-election battle against pro-abortion state Auditor Claire McCaskill

She has been blasting Talent for favoring "criminalizing" research that could provide "life-saving cures" even though embryonic stem cell research has yet to help a single patient and shows no promise to do so in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, Republican business interests, who would provide his campaign additional support, said they would be backing a constitutional amendment in Missouri that allows human cloning for research involving the destruction of unborn children. Talent has yet to issue a position on the proposal.

Republican State Rep. Jim Lembke, one of the leaders against the amendment, told nationally syndicated columnist Bob Novak that the flip-flop will hurt Talent’s support with the pro-life community.

"If you mess with your base in a close race that probably is going to have negative consequences," he said.

Weber said Talent should oppose the state amendment if he still truly opposes human cloning.

"If Talent truly opposes human cloning, Missouri citizens need to see that he is willing to publicly oppose the proposed constitutional amendment," he said.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Senator Talent and tell him you want him to support the bill banning all human cloning. Contact him at: (202) 224-6154 or send him an email by clicking here.