by Steven Ertelt
March 2, 2006
Kansas City, MO (LifeNews.com) — A Missouri state appeals court held a hearing on Thursday over a lawsuit filed by pro-life groups concerned that language appearing on the November ballot concerning human cloning is misleading. The ballot proposal claims to ban human cloning but, in reality, allows is for research purposes.
The hearing was held in front of a three judge panel from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, which did not indicate when it would issue a ruling.
"When Missourians are asked to change their Constitution, they at least deserve truth in packaging," Joel Oster, of the pro-life Alliance Defense Fund, said on behalf of five state residents.
Nikolas Nikas, a pro-life attorney representing the Bioethics Defense Fund, agreed.
"This ballot summary is grossly deceptive to Missouri voters. It’s like saying that an Initiative ‘bans the death penalty’ when the measure actually bans only the use of the electric chair, while creating constitutional protection for death by lethal injection," he explained.
Supporters of the proposal, which is intended to lend support to embryonic stem cell research, claim it’s accurately worded.
Karen Mitchell argued for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
"There is no reason to find better language to describe the entire initiative," Mitchell said, according to an AP report. "In this case, the Secretary of State used language that is not inconsistent with the common understanding of what human cloning is."
Dorinda Bordlee, BDF’s senior counsel, condemned the Secretary of State’s office for accepting the ballot language proposed by supporters, instead of crafting neutral language.
She said ballot amendment backers "have a vested interest in obfuscating the term ‘human cloning’ to deceive Missouri voters who strongly object to cloning human embryos for their destruction."
Pro-life groups appealed the case after Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder ruled on January 19 the language was fair and accurate.
Nikas, who served as one of the leading co-counsel at trial, said that the Missouri Court of Appeal can remedy this deception by ordering the trial court to apply established Missouri law that requires the official ballot summary to fairly inform Missouri voters of the core purposes of the Initiative.
Supporters of the proposal are still working on the 145,000 petition signatures they need from the state’s six Congressional districts in order to get the measure on the ballot.