Missouri Pro-Life Groups to Appeal Court Decision on Human Cloning

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

Missouri Pro-Life Groups to Appeal Court Decision on Human Cloning

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 13, 2006

Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates are planning to appeal a Missouri appeals court’s decision overturning its argument that a November ballot proposal claming to ban human cloning is misleading because it prohibits on some cloning while allowing others.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, filed papers with the Missouri Court of Appeals for a review of the decision.

“Election ballots should be neutral and not be designed to intentionally mislead voters,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. The voters deserve to know that the proposed ballot initiative would create a constitutional right to treat human life as a commodity and raw material for unethical human experimentation.”

The appeals court in March ruled that the ballot language should remain as is despite the deceptive language.

The ADF petition asks the Court of Appeals to either rehear the case or transfer the matter to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The lawsuit contends that, while the title of the ballot initiative purports to ban human cloning, the initiative itself in fact would change the Missouri Constitution to allow human cloning for stem cell research and protect its funding.

In its decision, written by Judge Victor Howard, the appeals panel said state law allows the initiative’s sponsor, Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, to set definitions.

Howard wrote that the "[a]ppellants’ real dispute seems not so much with the summary statement as it is with the initiative’s definition of human cloning," adding that the "appellants ask us to choose their definition of human cloning over that set out in the initiative. We decline."

The ruling said state law requires the wording to be clear and concise but not necessarily the best possible wording.

The Bioethics Defense Fund and Missourians Against Human Cloning are also involved in the lawsuit, filed against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

"The people of Missouri must not be duped into supporting the deceptive initiative," Nikolas Nikas, president and general counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com.

Nikas added, "notwithstanding the Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision, Missouri voters need to know that this initiative creates a constitutional right to clone human lives to destroy them for experimentation."

Judge James Smart partly dissented from the ruling, saying that he would allow the language to remain to collect signatures, but the term "cloning" should be defined more clearly if the proposal goes to the ballot.

"The ballot summary, standing alone, does not provide sufficient reference or context to clarify the meaning of the phrase and will tend to mislead those who are philosophically opposed to all nuclear transfer," Smart wrote.

The decision allowed the pro-human cloning group to continue to collect the 145,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. Those signatures must come from six of the nine congressional districts.

The ruling upheld a decision by Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder in January who determined the ballot wording is "sufficient and fair and the language is neutral."

Related web sites:
Application for rehearing – https://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/MAHCappealapp.pdf
Missourians Against Human Cloning – https://www.nocloning.org
Missouri Appeals Court – https://www.courts.mo.gov