Missouri Senate Committee Backs Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 9, 2011   |   1:19PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

On Wednesday night, the Missouri Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee voted “do pass” on two bills that pro-life advocates are concerned will lead to taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

The panel supported Senate Bills 7 and 8, which contain the economic development package titled  Missouri Science Innovation & Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA). Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life, tells LifeNews the concerns her group has with the legislation.

“MOSIRA sets up a fund, channeled through the state budget, to be administered by the pro-cloning Missouri Technology Corporation, to provide state money and/or tax incentives for new technology businesses, including businesses engaged in human life sciences research,” Fichter said. “The bills passed by the Senate committee do not include provisions preventing the funding of unethical research but only require reporting of such research.”

Missouri Right to Life testified in opposition to the bills as written and presented in the hearing. While the pro-life organization has no position on economic development legislation in general and supports ethical research, Fichter says MRL is “opposed to MOSIRA or any economic development legislation that does not include a strict ban on the funding of cloning and embryonic stem cell research.”

“The problems with the reporting requirement alone are that it relies on the inaccurate definition of cloning of Amendment II, the businesses involved would be self-reporting with no oversight, and only after innocent human lives have been destroyed,” Fichter said.

MRL has proposed language preventing the use of tax dollars for unethical research but Fichter explains, “The Republican-controlled committee, like the Obama administration in Washington, has opted to fund open-ended research unrestricted by the moral and ethical beliefs of pro-life Missourians.”

Voting against SB 7, the MOSIRA bill, was one Republican, Sen. Brian Nieves (26). Voting for the pro-cloning and embryonic stem cell research bill were Senators Eric Schmidt (R-15), Ron Richards (R-32), Bob Dixon (R-30), Victor Callahan (D-11), Jack Goodman (R-29), John Lamping (R-24), Ryan McKenna (D-22) and Luann Ridgeway (R-17). Sen. Ridgeway joined Sen. Nieves in voting against SB 8. All other members of the committee voted for SB 8.

The pro-life group sent a letter on July 1 to Governor Nixon and all state legislators expressing its concerns and suggesting pro-life protective language for MOSIRA.

“This fund is the vehicle through which certain Missouri businesses can invest money through the state budget process to set up business incubators, mainly through the university systems, to receive tax credits and/or incentives from the state. Because these monies pass through the state budget, they become public money and should have pro-life protections ensuring that the State of Missouri does not provide incentives for abortion, human cloning or embryonic stem cell research,” MRL said in the letter.

“Missouri Right to Life opposes any economic development legislation that includes only a reporting requirement for this life-destroying research. The public officials of the State of Missouri should be very clear in stating that the economic well-being of Missouri is not built on research that destroys innocent human lives through abortion services, human cloning or embryonic stem cell research. Public dollars, whether direct appropriations, tax credits or tax incentives for abortion services, human cloning or embryonic stem cell research, should be explicitly prohibited, not just reported after innocent human beings have been killed during research,” it continued.

The organization said it would oppose any economic development legislation without the protective language in place.