by Steven Ertelt
November 9, 2006
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates in Missouri aren’t giving up their efforts to stop the advance of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. State voters approved Amendment 2 there by a very narrow margin and advocates may put together a vote to repeal the constitutional amendment.
The amendment received just 51 percent of the vote and won by a small 50,000 vote margin out of more than two million votes cast.
Some lawmakers are already warming up to the idea of trying to repeal the amendment in 2008.
"If it’s up to me we’ll start forming an organization to collect the signatures right now, and come back with an amendment to repeal it in 2008," Rep. Wayne Cooper, a Republican, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper.
Supporters of Amendment 2 said they didn’t think pro-life groups would be able to defeat the constitutional amendment in a future vote.
"I think the people have spoken," Donn Rubin, of the Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, told the Dispatch.
But Sen. John Loudon, a Chesterfield Republican, told the newspaper the small victory doesn’t amount to a mandate for the research from state voters.
"When the body politic is this divided and impassioned on both sides, I don’t think you can put it to bed so easily," said Loudon, who indicated he would support a repeal effort.
Republican state Sen. Matt Bartle said opponents of the grisly research may have the advantage if they are the ones crafting the content of the amendment and he indicated voters are typically inclined to vote for state measures.
“I’d like to see us give voters an opportunity to vote on a human-cloning ban,” Bartle said. “What they voted on Tuesday was permission for researchers to conduct human cloning to their hearts’ desire.”
He said a drive to repeal the constitutional amendment could help prevent money from flowing into the state for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research if investors worry that such research would be stopped by voters in two years.
While lawmakers appear to favor a repeal effort, Bill Placke, a St. Louis lawyer who helped the campaign against Amendment 2, said he’s already organizing a petition drive to repeal it.
A state ballot measure can go before voters if enough signatures are collected or the state legislature approves a measure to place an item on it.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Jim Lembke indicated he will pursue another avenue to limit the effects of Amendment 2 by sponsoring legislation to regulate embryonic stem cell research. That could prompt a court battle because the Amendment prohibits the legislature from approving any regulations.
However, a bill to challenge the Amendment in court could satisfy some lawmakers and give them another tool to try to undo it.
Pro-life groups say their fight against human cloning and embryonic stem cell research isn’t done and they will look to different avenues to keep the grisly research in check.
“We knew from the very beginning that no matter what happened yesterday our work isn’t finished,” Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, told the Columbia newspaper.
“This is an issue that is going to be on our plate for quite some time … nothing changed yesterday as far as that goes, we will continue to deal with the issue of human cloning and destructive research.”
Wesley Smith, an attorney and author who is a leading bioethics watchdog, says he supports the idea of trying to repeal Amendment 2.
"I think this is a legitimate approach," he explained. "Amendment 2 was written to assure voters it outlawed the "cloning of a human being," when it actually legalized it."
"An initiative that accurately described somatic cell nuclear transfer as cloning, and seeks to ban the procedure in humans, is worth pursuing," he added.
Smith said he hoped other states would take up similar human cloning bans.