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Cures Without Cloning Aims To Modify Missouri Amendment Protecting Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Armen Hareyan's picture

The group Cures Without Cloning on Thursday said it has filed with the Missouri Secretary of Statechanges in the language of its proposal seeking to modify a Missouriconstitutional amendment that protects human embryonic stem cellresearch, the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/31).

Lastweek, Cures Without Cloning filed the ballot proposal with seeking tomodify the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, which wasapproved by Missouri voters in November 2006. The amendment ensuresthat stem cell research permitted under federal law is protected in thestate and prohibits human cloning. It also allows stem cell researchthat involves somatic cell nuclear transfer, which some opponentsconsider a type of human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer isconducted by inserting the genetic material from a patient's cell --usually from a skin cell -- into an unfertilized egg from anotherperson. The patient's genetic material incorporates into the egg andcauses it to develop into an embryo that is a genetic match to the skincell patient.

The proposed ballot measure, which would be on theNovember 2008 ballot, would create a new definition of cloning thatwould ban somatic cell nuclear transfer. The measure also would bar taxdollars from funding research using techniques banned by thedefinition. The proposal would not repeal the cloning definition in thecurrent amendment.

Proposal Language

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Theproposal's initial language said that human life begins when an eggreceives a "complete set of 46 chromosomes and continues through anysubsequent stages of embryonic, fetal, postnatal and laterdevelopment." Opponents of the proposal said the definition does notinclude people with abnormalities such as Down, Turner or Klinefeltersyndromes, who have 45 or 47 chromosomes, depending on the condition (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/29). The proposed new language for the proposal removes the reference linking an egg with 46 chromosomes to human life.

CurtMercadante, spokesperson for Cures Without Cloning, said the newlanguage would make the proposal more straightforward. According to theAP/Post-Dispatch, the secretary of state's office mustapprove the new language, and the proposal must have 200,000 signaturesfrom voters to appear on the ballot (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/31).

Related Opinion Piece

The ballot proposal "simply would allow Missouri to join other statesthat have banned human cloning by defining it the way most medical andscientific journals, and popular publications do: as the creation of acloned human embryo," Colleen Carroll Campbell, a fellow at the St.Louis-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes in a Post-Dispatch opinion piece.

Accordingto Carroll Campbell, the sponsors of the Missouri Stem Cell Researchand Cures Initiative "bucked the scientific establishment's commonlyaccepted definition of human cloning" in banning reproductive cloning"while making the cloning and destruction of human embryos for researcha constitutional right." Supporters of the amendment "now are in theawkward position of arguing against a cloning ban that does what theiramendment only purported to do," Carroll Campbell, writes, concludingthat eventually there might be enough state voters "who believe ourconstitution is no place to play word games" (Carroll Campbell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/30).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.