Pro-life coalition meets with Blunt, discusses cloning
By Allen Palmeri
March 10, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – An ad hoc coalition of pro-life organizations – including the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) — seeking to pass Senate Bill 160, the bill to ban human cloning/embryonic stem cell research, took its case to the governor and the two top General Assembly leaders March 2. Their mission: To emphasize most Christian voters in Missouri hold to a Scriptural worldview that calls for the protection of all human life at inception.
Roman Catholics and Missouri Southern Baptists, the two largest religious denominations in Missouri, were prominent in the group of 12-15 pro-life activists that met separately with Gov. Matt Blunt, House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, and Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood. Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission and pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church, represented Missouri Southern Baptists.
“I’m somewhat discouraged because of the lack of enthusiasm to get this legislation through,” Albert said. “I’m encouraged that all of them (said) that they would not utilize the political process to hijack this legislation or derail it. They do not intend to sidetrack this and to bury it. However, with such a strong pro-life majority in the General Assembly and Governor’s Mansion, we would expect a great deal more enthusiasm on this bill.”
Blunt, Jetton and Gibbons are evangelical Christians who campaign as pro-life candidates, but when it comes to banning human cloning, Albert said these politicians seem to be suffering from a worldview malfunction.
“It’s sad for me, because if you’re educated in the pro-life cause, this is a no-brainer,” Albert said. “Maybe we have some re-education to do on the fundamentals of being pro-life. Cloning is about human life. It’s about trivializing it, and treating human life as a commodity.”
The ad hoc coalition supporting SB 160 includes virtually the entire pro-life community in the state including Missouri Right to Life, American Family Association of Missouri, Concerned Women for America of Missouri, and Missouri Catholic Conference. Kerry Messer, founder, Missouri Family Network, and lobbyist, MBC Christian Life Commission, was also in the meetings with Blunt, Jetton and Gibbons.
Albert’s assessment reflects the mood of other coalition leaders who have become increasingly frustrated because they feel the governor and a minority of General Assembly members who oppose SB 160 seem more concerned with politically insulating themselves, often using scientific jargon to camouflage their position. For the pro-life coalition, the rhetoric lacks substance.
“This argument has become shrouded so much in technical language,” Albert said. “We’ve used terms that most Missouri Baptists have long forgotten since their high school science days—blastocysts, and language like that. It really is going to take, I believe, some kind of argument that shows our governor that there is nothing magical that happens at implantation to suddenly make this being human. It happens at the point of inception.
“Of course, now we have to change our language. When we were battling abortion, our slogan was, ‘Life begins at conception.’ It was good for the abortion argument but not for the cloning argument, because scientists can now bypass sperm-egg union. So now the terminology is, ‘Life begins at inception.’ Once they put that human cell into that egg in which they have already removed the cell nucleus, we now have a new human being.”
Albert said he believes that Blunt, who attends Second Baptist Church, Springfield, is pro-life in the sense that he will protect human life. The product of the process in question, though, clearly does not rise to that level in the governor’s mind, Albert said.
“I believe that if he were convinced this is human life, he really would expend the political capital,” Albert said. “He would go out on a limb with us and say, ‘Look, we are not going to experiment on human life.’ Unfortunately, he does not see that the earliest stage of development of human life is human.
“At what point, governor, do you believe this being has a soul?”
Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota have banned embryonic stem cell research.
“I’m hopeful that these professing pro-life politicians will, in the end, be authentically pro-life politicians,” Albert said.