by Steven Ertelt
August 14, 2006
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Backers of Amendment 2, the statewide ballot measure that would promote human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, put on a fancy rally at a Jefferson City hotel Monday night that drew less than 150 people despite the glitz and glamor.
The group heading up the initiative, which has received more than $16 million from a stem cell research firm, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, that stands to gain from the referendum passing, bussed in people from throughout Missouri.
With theatrical lights and television cameras to impress those who attended, the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures painted backers of the proposal as caring, religious people.
“Let’s be clear about whose initiative this is,” said Donn Rubin, chairman of the group, said at the rally. “It’s the initiative of patients and families affected by disease or injury, and frankly everyone else in the state, because any one of us could fit that category tomorrow.”
But Jaci Winship, executive director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, told the Kansas City Star newspaper that the rally was a slick production does doesn’t represent grassroots Missouri residents.
“It really isn’t an initiative that’s coming from the people,” she said. “We’ve known that the Stowers Institute will spend whatever it takes to get this amendment passed.”
Former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, a Republican who was an Episcopal minister, told rally attendees that many religious people back human cloning and embryonic stem cell research because they don’t regard a human embryo — a unique human being — as a person.
“There are some very, very fine people, deeply religious people, who believe that cells that exist in a lab dish that have never been fertilized and that have never been implanted in a woman are people,” Danforth said, according to the Star. “But there are other deeply religious people who do not agree that cells in a lab dish are people."
Winship said Missouri residents who oppose Amendment 2 come from a variety of backgrounds.
“We have agnostics and atheists who are opposed to it,” she told the Star. “We have pro-choice women who are opposed to it.”
The Missouri Secretary of State’s office certified the amendment last week for the November ballot.
The amendment would prevent lawmakers from proposing any bans on embryonic stem cell research of taxpayer funding of it and would allow human cloning for research purposes.
Missourians Against Human Cloning, supported by the Missouri Catholic Conference, the Missouri Baptist Convention and Missouri Right to Life, is leading the opposition to the amendment.
Shao-Chun Chang, a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, told 850 people at a rally against the amendment earlier this month that adult stem cell research shows considerably more promise than the use of embryonic stem cells.
Chang said supporters of the proposal are overstating the possibility that embryonic stem cells will cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other life-threatening ailments.
Other leading scientists agree the measure presents concerns that Missouri voters need to consider.
"As much as proponents may deny it, this initiative would create a constitutional right to human cloning in Missouri," explained Robert Onder of the Washington University School of Medicine. "In other words, the initiative would create a right to clone and kill human embryos, and it would require all of us to pay for it."
Adrienne Hynek, Respect Life director of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, says voters should oppose the amendment because "this initiative still allows cloning embryos as long as you kill a cloned embryo within 14 days of creating it."
Opponents of the proposal have also said that human cloning will end up exploiting women and that the process used to collect eggs for cloning is medically dangerous.