Cloning case remains lively in courtroom
By Allen Palmeri
April 4, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures won another round in court March 28 as it continues its relentless march toward the legalization of research cloning in Missouri.
Two target dates remain. First, the coalition of academic, business, media and scientific elites must secure about 145,000 valid petition signatures from at least six of the state’s nine congressional districts by May 9, according to the Associated Press. The coalition then must get a simple majority of Missouri voters to affirm the ballot initiative to create a constitutional right to clone human embryos.
The latest defeat for Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC) emanated from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in Kansas City. A majority of a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the ballot initiative language, which is worded “shall ban human cloning,” written by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. The appeals court ruling fell in line with that of Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder, who affirmed the secretary’s language in the Jan. 19 trial.
Jaci Winship, executive director for MAHC in Chesterfield, said March 31 that the case may be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.
“We are all contemplating the most prudent thing for us to do at this point in time,” she said. “We know that the language is misleading, but we want to be cognizant of our resources and what makes the most sense for us to do.”
Predictably, Winship was disturbed by the March 28 ruling. Only Judge James M. Smart was empathetic toward MAHC.
“It’s very disappointing that overall they’ve ruled that the language is acceptable,” she said. “It is, however, I think, interesting and noteworthy that Judge Smart dissented on that and has basically written a very lengthy, well-documented dissension stating that the phrase ‘bans human cloning’ is insufficient for ballot purposes. The initiative itself is clear because it’s longer and goes into detail between adult stem cell and embryonic stem cell, while the summary just uses the term ‘stem cell.’ So I think his dissension is a very solid expression of what the concerns are. However, at this point, the deceptive language stands.”
Judge Smart wrote about common people.
“A large percentage of the people who will be asked to vote on this measure are not biological scientists,” the judge wrote. “They are ordinary people who get most of their information from the ‘popular articles’ and the popular media.”
Winship does not claim to be anything other than a common person. When asked to comment on Smart’s words, she called them absolutely true.
“That’s been our problem all along,” she said. “This language, if you just look at it—especially the ballot language, which is such a short piece of information that includes the term ‘ban human cloning’ or attempted cloning—to get that language where it is, they have tried to redefine human cloning. That’s very important. It’s very misleading to the public.
“The average person isn’t studying this. They aren’t biologists, and they aren’t studying this to an extreme degree to understand what’s really involved in that.”