Missouri Cloning Amendment Deceptively Claims to Ban Cloning

By Hilary White

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, October 13, 2006 ( – A Missouri constitutional initiative, Amendment 2, set for a vote November 7th , is being widely denounced as “deceptive” and manipulative by pro-life advocates opposed to human cloning and by those who fear women will be exploited for their ova in cloning experiments.

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.

One of cloning’s most outspoken proponents, Dr. Robert Lanza, medical director of the biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology Inc, has complained that one of the biggest obstacles to creating human clones is the lack of availability of human ova.

“Without eggs, there’s no research,” Lanza recently told the Los Angeles Times. Lanza has demanded that a “decision” be made to allow payments in order for the research to go forward.

In March, a cover story of USA Today entitled “Egg Donor Business Booms on Campus,” revealed that cash-strapped college students were being offered thousands of dollars to obtain ova for embryo cloning experimentation.

Ova extraction procedures are difficult, involving drugs and a painful and sometimes dangerous invasive procedure. Some bioethicists, even those with little moral objection to cloning itself, have warned of an ethical quagmire ahead to obtain enough ova to make large-scale cloning research possible.

Read related coverage:
  Missourians Approve Ballot Initiative to Finance Stem-Cell Research and Human Cloning

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