Comentary by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery (R-126)
I promised you last week that I would explain the timing, the politics, and the process of the recent petition initiative by Stowers Institute to revise Missouri’s constitution and prohibit limits on cloning (also called SCNT). The politics are inescapable; sensing that few conservative voters fully understand embryonic stem cell research, Stowers intends to pour millions of dollars into a media blitz. TV ads are already being tested on focus groups. One of the ads emphasizes that their research is supported by “Christians.” There are also “Christians” who support abortion, but their support changes none of the facts. The same is true regarding SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) research.
Another reason for the rush is that Stowers hopes to place the amendment on the November 2006 ballot. Their intent is to draw more liberal voters to the polls and force pro-life legislators out of office in closely divided districts. That way, even if the amendment fails, they may have a shot at moving a similar measure through the legislature.
The process of amending Missouri’s constitution involves gathering 150,000 signatures from registered voters, including a minimum number per U.S. congressional district. If the signatures are validated, the proposed amendment is placed on the next state-wide ballot and requires a majority of the votes cast to pass. If approved by the voters, a constitutional amendment takes effect 30 days after the election.
A group of doctors, scientists, policy makers and business people has begun organizing to expose the truth about the Stowers initiative. They call themselves “Missourians for Ethical Cures.” Their focus is to ensure Missourians understand this issue, especially the great promise of adult stem cells. This group believes that SCNT research (cloning from embryonic stem cells) will hinder development of cures because of the resources it drains away from successful researchers.
Just this week, I saw a letter from Carol Franz of Owego, NY. Mrs. Franz was praising the adult stem cell transplant that allowed her to survive myeloma cancer. She claimed to be one of “300,000 humans cured through adult and umbilical stem cell research.” Mrs. Franz’s letter correctly points out that “there have been no successes using embryonic stem cells.” After untold millions of research dollars, there is still no justification for destroying life-bearing embryos with SCNT.
A press release from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg describes a scientific study which demonstrates that “adult stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to multiply.” Please take a minute to read it for yourself.
Desperate men will do desperate things, even resorting to obfuscation. I hope each voter will research beyond the media and advertising. Stowers is dead wrong on this issue, and we absolutely do not need the Missouri constitution amended to protect the destruction of life for the sake of empty promises.
Editor's notes: The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures of which Stowers, Washington University in St. Louis, and many groups seeking cures for diabetes, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries are a part, is hoping to gather 150,000 signatures from 6 of Missouri's 9 congressional districts in order to put on the November 2006 ballot the issue of adopting a constitutional amendment to protect stem cell research in Missouri.
Larry Weber, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference joins Rep. Emery and other staunch pro-life supporters. Weber has called the research an "attack on human life" and an "inmoral" proposal that his group, he says, will oppose with all their resources available.
The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures believes that "voter approval of the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative by a simple majority vote will prevent state-level bans of any type of stem cell research and cures allowed under federal law, including those involving adult stem cells and early, or embryonic, stem cell from the SCNT process and from leftover fertility clinic embryos that would otherwise be discarded."