MBTS confab shows Amendment 2’s deception
KANSAS CITY – The fight against Amendment 2 and its protection of cloning in Missouri took a more academic turn at recent workshop at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS).
Up for vote in the Nov. 7 election, Amendment 2 claims to ban human cloning in Missouri but would actually make the practice constitutional, thus paving the way for taxpayer-funded destruction of embryos with the hopes of finding cures using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or cloning) to create embryonic stem cells.
Medical doctor and Rep. Wayne Cooper (R-Camdenton) took issue with the proposed amendment, “Missouri Lifesaving Cures and Research Initiative,” as a physician, a lawmaker and as a Christian.
“SCNT is the scientific name for cloning,” he said. “This amendment is deceptive. The text says it bans cloning but in reality, it creates the right to clone human embryos. Second, it offers false hope for suffering patients. In my estimation as a physician, this possibly will create a more severe situation for the patient than the disease they are afflicted with. There is no future cure right around the corner. This is all about research.”
Cooper also argued the proposal misuses the Missouri Constitution and subverts the authority of the Legislature.
“This type of issue should be addressed by the state Legislature where there can be an open debate,” he said. “With this sudden rash of initiatives around the country, you do not really have a debate. What you get is mob rule. It should be defeated for that reason alone.”
Cooper issued a challenge for Christians today.
“The 21st century needs people who can think as Christians and bring a Christian worldview to bear on the biotech revolution,” he said. “It’s not just like an optional seminar. It’s very important that as leaders in the church you become well versed in these issues. There are going to be a lot of ethical challenges we’re going to face.”
Some quibble about the definition of cloning as it is presented in the amendment language, but bioethicist and neurosurgical nurse Cindy Province echoed Cooper, saying there is no mistaking that harvesting embryonic stem cells requires cloning. Province is also a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board.
Province walked through the process of fertilization and showed how and when stem cells are formed in an embryo. With SCNT, the process that created Dolly the Sheep and the process that would be specifically protected by Amendment 2, the nucleus of an embryo is removed before it divides into stem cells and is replaced with the DNA of the organism to be cloned. Stem cells containing the new DNA are then formed and harvested by destroying the embryo.
“Human embryonic stem cell research turns every medical and ethical code on its head,” Province said. “What it says is that this class of human beings is not worth as much as the next class. Ethically speaking, even good motives are not adequate for doing this.”
Thor Madsen, professor of ethics philosophy at MBTS, approached the question from a biblical point of view.
“We don’t have much to say in this debate unless we say what the Bible says. We are personally fashioned by Him, unlike all other living creatures. If God calls people from their mother’s womb, unborn children have His undivided attention.”
Madsen went on to say that SCNT likely will show up in other states should Missouri reject Amendment 2 or even later ban cloning. That, he said, is no reason not to fight.
“Doing the right thing can sometimes cost us everything individually and collectively. We have no guarantees. But we were never going to live forever anyway. Not here. First-class medicine will not give us eternal life. Only God can do that and we dare not face Him in judgment having stretched our lives short by a cubit, nourished by the blood of these little ones.”
Alan Branch, professor of biblical ethics, and Mark Devine, professor of theology at Midwestern, also lectured during the two-day workshop.