Missouri Embryonic Stem Cell Research Initiative Backers Turn in Signatures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Missouri Embryonic Stem Cell Research Initiative Backers Turn in Signatures

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 2, 2006

Jefferson CIty, MO (LifeNews.com) — Backers of a November ballot initiative that would promote embryonic stem cell research and human cloning turned in 288,991 petition signatures Monday to the Secretary of State for authentication. If they have turned in enough valid signatures, Missouri residents will vote on the proposal.

The group must have turned in 150,000 valid signatures from state residents to qualify the initiative and the Secretary of State has until August 8 to complete the process of verifying them.

Jaci Winship, director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, accused backers of buying a place on the Missouri ballot. She said backers have received millions from the Stowers research center for the proposal and would "whatever is necessary to deceive the voters into supporting this unethical amendment."

Winship also pointed out that less than 10% of the registered voters signed the petition, even with their "army" of paid signature gatherers.

"While the proponents claim to have the support of the majority of Missourians, we know 10% is a long way from a majority," she said, adding that she expected voted to reject the initiative in November.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Jim Talent has said he will oppose the initiative, putting him on opposite sides of his likely Democratic opponent, pro-abortion State Auditor Claire McCaskill.

"I personally cannot support the initiative because I’ve always been opposed to human cloning, and this measure would make cloning human life at the earliest stage a constitutional right,’’ Talent said in a statement.

Talent’s announcement is good news for pro-life groups like Missouri Right to Life and the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches which have worked together to oppose the proposal. They worried Talent would support it.

They have also been involved in a court battle about the language of the proposal.

While backers say it would prohibit cloning, in reality it only prohibits human cloning for reproductive purposes. Human cloning to create human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them for research would be allowed and encouraged under the initiative.

The groups were concerned because Talent previously took his name off of a pro-life Congressional measure that would ban all forms of human cloning. At the time he talked about a theoretical method, called altered nuclear transfer, that could allow the creation of non-human embryos for use in research, without the destruction of human life.

"I will continue to support new alternatives and research that hold promise to give us exactly the stem cells we want to relieve human suffering without cloning,’’ Talent said in Monday’s statement.

McCaskill, on the other hand, released a statement saying she was happy the signatures have been turned in.

‘‘This initiative enables Missouri doctors and researchers to be at the forefront of lifesaving research," she claimed.

Related web sites:
Missourians Against Human Cloning – https://www.NoCloning.org