Missouri Right to Life, Gov. Blunt and cloning
June 14, 2005
Missouri Baptists deserve to know the whole story of the 2005 legislative session.
I write this from the position of chief lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life (MRL). I am also a Missouri Southern Baptist and the wife of a Southern Baptist pastor.
It is with great sadness that I report that not a single new pro-life law was enacted during the regular legislative session. Instead, we saw a legislative session dominated by the business lobby. And, it was the year to find that pro-life values would be measured and defined by the pro-cloning forces within the “life science” industry.
MRL approached this past legislative session with great optimism. Pro-lifers had worked hard to elect the largest bi-partisan pro-life majority in the state’s history. Over 90% of MRL PAC-endorsed candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, were successful in their campaigns, including Gov. Matt Blunt.
Blunt’s endorsement was based largely on his candidate survey and a commitment he gave personally to MRL in the summer of 2004 that if elected he would sign legislation banning all human cloning, including somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), and would not work against the progress of that legislation. His subsequent reversal of this commitment was responsible for the failure of pro-life legislation to advance in spite of strong support of the members in both houses.
Governor Blunt claims to be pro-life, yet takes an anti-life position on whether human beings should be cloned and destroyed. This is in direct opposition to the official position of President Bush, every major pro-life organization in America and most evangelical and conservative Catholic voters.
In recent mainstream media editorials and interviews, Governor Blunt accuses MRL of “bizarre” behavior. In fact, the governor’s actions and position on SCNT are truly “bizarre.” When using human DNA, SCNT creates a self-developing embryo with a full human genetic code, a living human being biologically indistinguishable from those created through normal sexual reproduction. Governor Blunt believes that this method of asexual reproduction, which was used to create Dolly the sheep, Copycat the housecat, and many other mammals, does not create human life. In a meeting with MRL representatives during the 2005 legislative session, Blunt stated his belief that cloned human beings, even when born, would not be human. Now, that’s bizarre.
In fact, an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, on Dec. 27, 2000, quotes pro-cloners Robert P,. Lanza, Arthur L. Caplan, Lee M. Silver, Jose B. Cibelli, Michael D. West, and Ronald M. Green in saying that “CRNT (cell replacement through nuclear transfer, a.k.a. therapeutic cloning) requires the deliberate creation and disaggregation of a human embryo.” They go on to say that “It is true that the techniques developed in CRNT (cell replacement through nuclear transfer, a.k.a. therapeutic cloning) research can prepare the way scientifically and technically for efforts at reproductive cloning.”
Governor Blunt claims that life should only be created the way God intended, with a sperm and an egg. And, Governor Blunt is right in this position. Therefore, the governor should have had no problem supporting and signing a total ban on human cloning, including SCNT. His signature to ban all human cloning, including SCNT, would have reinforced his claims. However, the governor only wanted to sign a ban on so-called reproductive cloning and allow SCNT to proceed so that human embryos could be cloned and killed for the purpose of finding cures for diseases. In reality, adult stem cell research has shown the only promise to date for finding cures for diseases. The speculative hopes of SCNT cannot justify the intentional destruction of human life.
The governor also accuses MRL of opposing pro-life legislation. This is a gross distortion. Senate Bill 2 (SB2), an omnibus pro-life bill containing 12 pro-life measures, passed the Senate 26-6 after having been approved by the governor’s office. When lawyers from the Stowers Institute, a Kansas City research operation which hopes to profit from cloning human beings and destroying them, objected to one sentence in the legislation, the governor put the brakes on the bill. The “objectionable” language states that “it is the intent of the Missouri General Assembly to recognize and affirm the right to life of all humans whether in utero or not.” If SCNT does not create human beings as the governor and Stowers claim, why would they object to this language?
The governor then proposed two substitute bills that removed most of the pro-life provisions. Since the governor had approved SB2 prior to the cloners’ objections, one can only conclude that the removal of pro-life provisions was an effort to hide the removal of the objectionable sentence. MRL, as well as others, opposed these substitute bills because they represented a significant weakening of the original legislation. With the changes to SB 2, both SB2 and its companion, House Bill 100, now would have to face a pro-abortion filibuster in the Senate, an impossible situation with four days left in the session. We urged the House to take up SB2 in its original form as that legislation required one vote from the House where there was a pro-life majority capable and willing to cut off a filibuster and send the bill to the governor to sign. But, at the governor’s order, pro-life legislation was gutted and an impossible scenario was set up for successful passage of pro-life legislation during the regular session.
The reaction to pro-life legislation during the 2005 legislative session of the pro-cloning life sciences research industry provides strong evidence of the relationship between cloning and abortion. The pro-cloners claim that SCNT only creates “clumps of cells,” too small to be significant, and that these “clumps of cells” will not develop into a human if not nurtured inside a womb. We have heard this same argument from abortionists who say that a “clump of cells” are not human life and should not be considered as life that would interfere with a woman’s right to choose abortion.
MRL took a stand for life with grace, humility and passion. Standing firm on the truth to protect innocent human life no matter what comes at us is what God has called us to do. You can pretend that gravity does not exist but the fact is that gravity is a law of nature. In the same way the governor can pretend that SCNT does not create life, but the scientific fact is that SCNT with human DNA creates a human embryo in the beginning stages of life. If the governor says he wants to keep human life in under God’s creation, then he should sign a ban on all human cloning, including SCNT, a.k.a., therapeutic cloning.
As for MRL, we will continue to stand for the protection of innocent human life and will always report the truth of the legislative process to the citizens of the great state of Missouri. (Susan Klein is legislative liaison for Missouri Right to Life.)