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Monday, October 9, 2006

Attention Missouri Voters - Don't Get Suckered!





THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM THE MISSOURI CATHOLIC BISHOPS...

First Things To Know About Amendment 2:


What is the title of Amendment 2 and when will it be considered by voters?
Amendment 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a new section in the Missouri constitution to be known as the “Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.” It will be voted on by voters at the general election on November 7, 2006.

Does the title and ballot summary of Amendment 2 accurately reflect its provisions?
No. The title and the ballot summary are deceptive and are being used as a marketing strategy to win votes.

Doesn’t Amendment 2 involve stem cell research?
Yes, but it involves a lot more. Instead of focusing on morally acceptable and effective research with adult stem cells, the amendment pushes Missouri into embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

What is morally wrong with embryonic stem cell research?
As the term implies, it entails experimentation on human embryos – human life at the earliest stage of development. These experiments destroy human embryos for research purposes.

Does Amendment 2 pose harm to anyone besides human embryos?
Yes. The proposal would allow the cloning industry to pay women who donate their eggs for research. In order to harvest the eggs, researchers would have women undergo invasive surgical procedures that are not risk free and can lead to serious health complications.

Isn’t stem cell research curing many dreaded diseases?
The cures you are hearing about are coming from adult stem cell research – research that is underway now in Missouri and does not require the passage of a constitutional amendment or the harvesting of eggs from women. In contrast, the embryonic stem cell research promoted by this constitutional amendment has yet to lead to a single cure for any human disease.

Does Amendment 2 ban human cloning?
No. The 100 word ballot summary voters will see upon entering the voting booth states that the proposal bans human cloning, but this is false. The ballot summary is relying upon a scientifically inaccurate definition of human cloning found in the full text of the proposal, which voters will not see when entering the voting booth. If voters could read the full text, they would know that human cloning is being authorized in the form of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

Does Amendment 2 include a tax increase?
Although the proposed amendment does not call for a tax increase, it authorizes the use of your tax dollars to subsidize human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. This could lead to budget cuts to other programs like health coverage for the poor or alternatives to abortion.

Why haven’t I heard these facts before?
The cloning industry, funded primarily by principals of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, has spent over $16 million dollars on a lavish media campaign and plan to spend millions more. There is no legal requirement that these ads tell the truth. Cloning backers are misleading voters and seeking to buy the election so they can access tax dollars for their research.

Your tax dollars and the cloning amendment:

Who would receive the cloning money provided by taxpayers under Amendment 2?
State cloning grants could be provided to private research institutions like the Stowers Institute in Kansas City and Washington University in St. Louis as well as public institutions like the University of Missouri.

Without a tax increase, how could tax money be used for human cloning?
Passage of this constitutional amendment would send a message to the state legislature that embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are top priorities for voters. State lawmakers would have a mandate to appropriate money out of state general revenue to fund these activities.

Could funding human cloning experiments lead to budget cuts to other programs?
Most definitely. The state budget is like a pie with a limited number of portions. Furthermore, the state is under severe fiscal constraints at this time which has already led to budget cuts in areas such as health coverage for the poor. In order to find the funds to finance untested and immoral scientific procedures like human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, state budget writers may have to cut programs, such as scholarship help for college students or services for the elderly and disabled.

Could the state legislature fund adult stem cell research and not embryonic stem cell research?
No. If this constitutional amendment is enacted, your elected state lawmakers would find their hands tied: if they wanted to fund morally acceptable adult stem cell research, then they would also have to fund embryonic stem cell research. No distinctions could be made between adult and embryonic stem cell research, which is the way cloning backers want it.

Embryonic vs. Adult Stem Cell Research –Some Basic Differences:

Doesn’t embryonic cell research simply manipulate a few cells in a petri dish?
No. In order to obtain the embryonic stem cells scientists must tear apart the human embryo thereby destroying human life. In order to acquire human embryos to destroy for embryonic stem cell research, eggs must be harvested from women in surgical procedures that are not risk free.

How many cures have been produced by embryonic stem cell research?
None. Embryonic stem cell research has yet to lead to a single “cure” for any human disease after many years of research. Furthermore, the prospects look dim for developing cures using embryonic stem cells anytime in the near future.

What is adult stem cell research?
Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, peripheral blood, fat and many other tissues. Using adult stem cells, there have been 70 cures, successful treatments or promising medical trials, including work with ovarian cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, bone and cartilage deformities, stroke and heart damage, and Parkinson’s disease.

Does adult stem cell research involve the destruction of human life?
No.

Is adult stem cell research occurring here in Missouri?
Yes. Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis has the second largest cord blood bank in the world. Stem cells derived from this bank have been used to successfully treat many Missourians. For example, 11 year old Russell Witek is now cancer free after receiving stem cells from the hospital’s cord blood bank that successfully treated his acute lymphocytic leukemia.

If Amendment 2 is defeated, could stem cell research proceed?
Most definitely. Defeat of the amendment would focus more attention on adult stem cell research where all the successful cures have been found. We don’t need a constitutional amendment for stem cell research to offer cures.

Human Cloning and the Proposed Constitutional Amendment:

Doesn’t Amendment 2 ban human cloning?
The 100 word ballot summary voters will see upon entering the voting booth states it bans human cloning, but this is false. A voter would have to read the full text of the proposal – which will not be available in the voting booth – to understand that human cloning is permitted.

How can the ballot title say something which contradicts the full text of the proposal?
This is where a good lawyer comes in handy. When the ballot title says the proposal bans human cloning, it means it is banning human cloning as defined in the full text of proposal. But that definition is scientifically inaccurate and defines human cloning in such a way as to allow the cloning of human life.

Is cloning occurring now?
In 1996 scientists successfully cloned Dolly the sheep using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Researchers are trying to clone human embryos using SCNT technology, but they have not been successful yet. Last year Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk claimed to have created embryonic stem cell lines from cloned human embryos, but it turned out that he had fabricated his research. The fraud perpetuated by Dr. Hwang has raised a number of ethical questions about this research.

What is involved in SCNT?
In this form of human cloning, a woman’s ovaries would be hyper-stimulated to produce eggs and those eggs would be surgically removed. The nucleus of an egg containing 23 chromosomes would be removed and replaced with the nucleus of an adult (somatic) cell from a donor containing the full complement of 46 chromosomes, creating a human embryo. An electrical impulse or chemicals would then initiate cell division. SCNT replicates natural human conception and creates a human embryo that can be destroyed in order to extract the embryonic stem cells for research.

Dangers to Women Posed by the Human Cloning Amendment:

Could women be exploited for their eggs?
Yes. In-vitro fertilization clinics are already paying women to donate their eggs. This constitutional amendment would encourage more commerce in women’s eggs. A May 19, 2003 editorial in the Stanford Daily – the newspaper serving Stanford University – raised concerns that couples and organizations were offering up to $80,000 for egg donors with certain desired traits like high SAT scores.

Would many eggs be needed for this research?
Yes. On January 10, 2006 the New York Times reported that Korean Doctor Woo Suk Hwang,- the scientist who falsely claimed to have successfully cloned human embryos - had obtained “as many as 2,061 eggs from 129 women, an extraordinary number given the pain and difficulty of extracting eggs from donors.” To obtain enough eggs Dr. Hwang paid women lab assistants who agreed to donate their eggs, a clear breach of international research protocol. According to Dr. David Prentice, a Life Science scholar at Georgetown University, to treat the 16 million diabetes patients in the U.S. would require at least 800 million embryos.

What health problems are posed by egg donations?
In a typical procedure, a woman must undergo hormonal injections designed to hyper-stimulate her ovaries to produce eggs. The eggs are then surgically extracted. The drugs used to hyper-stimulate the ovaries can lead to a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). In some cases OHSS causes only mild problems but in severe cases it can lead to hospitalization, infertility or even death.

If a woman consents to donating her eggs, what is wrong with it?
It creates a commodity out of women’s bodies in order to produce eggs for scientific experiments that destroy human embryos. It degrades the natural dignity of a woman’s reproductive cycle to a manufacturing process.

Lack of cures and the Abortion factor:

Why isn’t embryonic stem cell research leading to cures?
In animal trails with cows and mice researchers have encountered a number of obstacles which have led to medical problems in the animals. That is one reason why medical trials on humans using embryonic stem cells have not been authorized in the United States.

But I have heard of success in animal trials. Won’t this lead to human cures?
The success in animal trails is over-hyped by the media. To treat animals, researchers often have had to move beyond work within petri dishes to implantation in the animal’s womb. For example, in February 2004 Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts reported cloning mouse embryos to produce new heart tissue for mice. Researchers placed cloned mouse embryos in a surrogate mother, grew them to a late fetal stage of development (the equivalent of the fifth or sixth month of human pregnancy) and then performed an abortion to extract the heart tissue necessary for the medical treatment.

Does the proposed amendment ban abortions for medical research?
There is no explicit provision prohibiting the use of abortion for medical research. Abortion would not be a concern if the drafters of Amendment 2 had developed a clear and comprehensive prohibition on implanting human embryos in a woman for research purposes. But they failed to do so. The prohibition on implantation is qualified to apply to certain cases, such as implanting an embryo to bring an unborn child to birth. Implantation for other purposes like medical research is not prohibited when the researchers use human embryos derived from in-vitro fertilization clinics and the embryo is aborted before the eighth week of development.

How likely is it that researchers would implant human embryos in a woman’s womb only to perform an abortion to later extract tissue for medical treatment?
One would hope no responsible researcher would pursue this approach for it would set a dangerous precedent of sacrificing one human life for another. It is also very poor public policy to amend the state constitution with language that could later be interpreted by courts to allow abortions for medical research.

Putting the right to clone in the Missouri Constitution:

Would Amendment 2 contradict provisions of Missouri’s current constitution?
Yes. By creating a constitutional right to clone and kill human beings, this constitutional amendment would stand in direct contradiction to our state constitution’s Bill of Rights, which upholds the natural right of all persons to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (See Article 1, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution).

Do any other states provide constitutional protection for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research?
In enacting Amendment 2, Missouri would be following the example of California in protecting human cloning through a state constitutional amendment.

Is it appropriate to put medical research terminology in our state constitution?
Our constitution should express broad and timeless legal principles. It is not the place to insert medical terms that rapidly become dated as new developments arise. We should not enshrine a term like “embryonic stem cell research” in our constitution when this form of research is already being superseded by more successful adult stem cell research.

Where can I go to read the full text of Amendment 2?
For the full text visit the Secretary of State’s web-site at http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2006petitions/ppStemCell.asp Be forewarned, however, that this proposal is cleverly drafted in language intended to hide more than it reveals.

The Catholic Church’s position on Stem Cell Research:

Does the Catholic Church object to all stem cell research?
No. Most stem cell research involves adult tissue, umbilical cord blood and other sources that do not destroy human life. In fact, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital – a Catholic hospital – is a world leader in providing adult stem cells for medical treatment.

What about embryonic stem cell research?
The Catholic Church opposes embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. Human cloning is a dehumanizing process attacking the sanctity and dignity of human life. Cloning humans removes the act of creating human life from natural God-given human reproduction and turns it into a manufacturing process. Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of human life at the very earliest stage of development. Finally, this research would exploit women and in some cases endanger their health.

What Can I Do:

How can I help defeat Amendment 2?
Through your pastor find out if your parish has a pro-life coordinator and offer to help mobilize Catholic voters to go to the polls November 7 and defeat the cloning amendment. For other ways to get involved. visit the website of the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC) at www.mocatholic.org or call 1-800-456-1679. Also visit Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC) at http://www.nocloning.org or call them at (636)-536-9877. MAHC has prepared special “Friend to Friend” packets that you can use to mobilize your friends and neighbors to oppose the cloning amendment.

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