Missouri stem cell initiative really about cloning
By the narrowest of margins (51 per cent to 49 per cent) voters in Missouri passed Amendment 2, ostensibly a constitutional amendment that would permit embryonic stem cell research and ban human cloning. But Amendment 2 permitted human cloning by redefining it – allowing “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (cloning) to create human embryos for research purposes – and outlawing cloning only for reproductive purposes. Amendment 2 also allows the buying and selling of ova and grant taxpayer funding to biotech firms involved in such experiments.
Nikolas T. Nikas, president and general counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, said the ballot summary explaining the initiative to voters was “grossly deceptive” comparing it’s claim to ban cloning to a hypothetical measure that outlawed the use of the electric chair being credited as a death penalty prohibition.
Pro-life and religious efforts to educate Missourians about the true nature of the initiative were overshadowed by a biotech industry-led $30 million disinformation campaign that pulled on the heart-strings of voters with exaggerated claims about the hope embryonic stem cell research provides in curing illness and disease.
The most famous ad featured Canadian actor and Parkinson’s patient Michael J. Fox. He urged voters in the state to pass Amendment 2 so people like him had a “chance at hope” for a cure. Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh accused Fox of exaggerating his spastic movements through acting or failing to take his medication – the latter a tactic that Fox admits in his autobiography to using to drum up sympathetic support for embryonic stem cell research.
A group of pro-life celebrities were featured in an television ad against the amendment. They called the initiative exploitive of women because it permits the commercialization of ova. ESCR and cloning proponents say the biggest obstacle to their research is the small number of available ova. Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology Inc. told the Los Angeles Times that “without eggs, there’s no research.” He advocated the buying and selling of ova, a practice outlawed in many jurisdictions that permit human cloning. Some estimate that there is a need for literally millions of ova.
Pro-life feminists warned that the initiative was exploitive and harmful to women because egg harvesting painful, risky and sometimes deadly.
Missouri voters thought they were supporting embryonic stem cell research – research that has never been successfully treated disease in human clinical trial – and they bought its advocates exaggerated claims. They also bought the lies about what Amendment 2 banned, and in return their state will have one of the most permissive human cloning and egg harvesting regimes in the country.