It's not over yet
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It's not over yet

Date: August 22, 2007
By: Lucie Wolken
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Less than a year after Missourians narrowly voted to establish a constitutional right for stem-cell research, an initiative petition campaign has been launched to restrict that right.

Cures Without Cloning, a newly formed coalition, submitted the constitutional amendment proposal to the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday.  The language of the proposal would ban any form of human cloning, including the practice termed somatic cell nuclear transfer.

"The Missouri Constitution currently allows for human cloning.  It allows for the same cloning method that created Dolly the Sheep," said Dr. Buffa, chairperson of Cures Without Cloning in a news release.  "This initiative will ensure this dangerous, unproven, unnecessary practice is prohibited, and allow us to focus on safe research that leads to lifesaving cures and treatments."

Connie Farrow, Spokesperson for The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, the sponsor the 2006 proposal, charged this new effort is fundamentally deceptive.

"We have already banned human cloning, we make it a felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a $250,000 fine," Farrow said.  "We believe that Missourians understood this issue.  It's reprehensible that this group would suggest that Missourians were too stupid to know what it was that they were doing.  At the end of the day, that is what they are saying, that you were tricked, that you didn't understand fully what it was that was being presented before you."

However, proponents of the ballot say that their effort is not linked with the past, as opponents are saying, and that they have one very specific goal. 

"This is a very narrowly targeted amendment initiative that would only prohibit human cloning.  Human cloning is not necessary for lifesaving cures and the assertion that it is, is wrong," said Curt Mercadante, spokesperson for Cures Without Cloning.  "This would allow us to focus our energies on proven safe treatments and cures that don't involve human cloning."

Dr. Bill Neaves, president of the Stower's Institute for Medical Research, the state's largest medical research institute, called anti-stem cell group a "handful of naysayers" after the submission of the ballot measure.

"Embryonic Stem cell research is not human cloning.  Embryonic stem cells, including those made by nuclear transfer, represent hope for millions of patients," Neaves said.

James and Virginia Stowers, the founders of the medical research institute, were responsible for nearly all the funding for the 2006 initiative, contributing over $30 million. The Institute recently put their expansion project, promised to Missourians upon the passage of the November Amendment, on hold.  

Following the launch of the Campaign Committee with the filing of the ballot measure, Mercadante says that the next effort is to gather petitions, raise money, and get the word out

"We are very confident that this will be a successful effort and that we will get the support that we need across the board," Mercadante said.

Farrow says that the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures is adamant that they are not going to let the group take Missouri backwards.

"These folks have been masquerading as pro-stem cell advocates," Farrow said.   "We believe that Missourians will stand strong against this phony effort."


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