Missouri Senate Ignores Pro-Life Concerns on Bioethics Issues

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 15, 2011   |   12:52PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

Yesterday, the Missouri Senate disappointed pro-life advocates when it passed the Missouri Science Innovation & Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) without adequate pro-life protections.

Pam Fichter, the president of Missouri Right to Life said her group hoped to have a prohibition on funding abortions or unethical bioethics practices like human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Instead, lawmakers merely put in a provision requiring the reporting of such expenditures.

“While an amendment containing protective language was introduced Tuesday evening, in a carefully choreographed maneuver, Senators replaced this amendment with another amendment that required only an additional, ineffective reporting requirement,” she said.

Missouri Right to Life had urged the Senate to include the following language, which would provide clear prohibitions against unethical research: Public funds shall not be expended, paid, or granted to or on behalf of an existing or proposed research project that involves abortion services, human cloning, or prohibited human research as defined in section 196.1127.

“Instead, the Senate approved language that required Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) to announce and post on-line the proposed recipients of public funds they would control ten days prior to distribution of those funds,” Fichter said. “The language would have no prohibitive effect on unethical research.”

“MOSIRA also includes language that requires the recipient organizations to report on the specific research they perform with the public moneys they receive from the MTC.  However, this reporting would be self-monitored with no official oversight and rely on the faulty definition of human cloning now in the Missouri constitution as a result of Amendment 2,” Fichter added.

With the legislation now heading to the Missouri House, Fichter says pro-life advocates hope legislators there will address the concerns and her group urges pro-life Representatives in the House to amend MOSIRA with true pro-life protections provided in the language it suggests.

The Senate vote follows the Missouri Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee giving a do pass on two bills that pro-life advocates are concerned will lead to taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

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 bill without any pro-life funding limits 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.

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.