Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Human Cloning: Missouri Voters Being Duped

The New York Times was accurate (can you believe I was able to write that) with this headline: "Tacit Silence on Stem Cell Research in Missouri Race".

Ads are being run in political parameter state Missouri that imply the new Stem cell amendment being put to voters in November will outlaw human cloning... Therefore the measure is doing very well in the polls.

The truth about the amendment is that it seeks to secure money for human cloning "outside the womb" and would prevent any government institution from refusing funding for the radical measure. Missouri is a "pro-life state", which seems to enforce the opinion that voters are in favor of this measure because they think they are going to stop the possibility of human cloning from aborted stem cells, when in fact that will be voting for the most radical jump in stem cell research to date.

"...Ostensibly set as a “cloning ban,” the Missouri initiative, by re-defining “cloning” as “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” and specifying that it is the “creation of a human being,” echoes the linguistic deceptions of most other proposed “cloning bans.”

The actual text of the initiative reveals that it bans only cloning that would allow a child produced to live, so-called "reproductive cloning". At the same time, the initiative would constitutionally protect cloning to create embryonic stem cells for research, allow the buying and selling of ova and grant the biotech industry unchecked authority and tax-payer funding.

The language of the referendum is so questionable that it was taken to a Missouri court of appeals in early 2006 where it was revealed that the text had been accepted by the Secretary of State as it came direct from cloning proponents.

Nikolas T. Nikas, president and general counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, said in court, “This ballot summary is grossly deceptive to Missouri voters. It's like saying that an Initiative 'bans the death penalty' when the measure actually bans only the use of the electric chair, while creating constitutional protection for death by lethal injection.”

Missouri’s voters have heard from the well-funded pro-cloning side the usual exploitive claims that “therapeutic cloning” is not really cloning and that it is the answer to heart rending serious illnesses and diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The website of the Missouri Coalition for Life-Saving Cures, features photos and stories of children with devastating diseases, and implies that the cure is to be found in embryonic stem cells derived from cloned embryos, and appeals for a “yes” vote. Spokesmen of the biotechnology industry, however, admit that there is still no evidence whatever that embryonic stem cells are likely to make any progress against these or any diseases.

Opponents of the amendment have pointed to the dangers to women’s health and rights if the amendment goes through. The Missouri initiative will allow payments for ova, a practice that is illegal and considered unethical even in those countries that enthusiastically endorse therapeutic cloning. Many have pointed to the danger of exploiting economically disadvantaged women if payments are allowed for ova.

The enormous volume of ova required to allow the scientific research community to engage in full-scale cloning experimentation would require a constant supply of thousands, perhaps millions of ova...." (source)

I'm not telling Missouri voters how to vote --that's not how a Democracy works...what I am saying is that amending the Constitution is a serious undertaking that should be thoroughly researched and never decided by watching a few advocacy ads. Research is your friend!

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