Pro-life rally at Capitol generates hope
JEFFERSON CITY – More than 1,000 pro-life citizens rallied on the various levels of the Capitol Rotunda March 7 to send a clear message to proponents of embryonic stem cell research in Missouri that they will not surrender their state to wealthy and influential advocates of human cloning.
State Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit and a member of Abundant Life Fellowship in Lee’s Summit, a Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC)-affiliated congregation, described the pro-life community as a highly motivated and tenacious army that knows how to dig in for a long, protracted battle. After Amendment 2, which promotes the spread of embryonic stem cell research, passed last November with 51 percent of the vote, a deep and broad pro-life coalition has held together. The thousand who showed up March 7 are representative of the 1,028,495 citizens who voted against the amendment out of 2.1 million votes that were cast.
“I am convinced that if Missourians were presented with a straightforward, clear ban on human cloning, Missourians would vote overwhelmingly to ban it,” Bartle said. Buoyed by the crowd, he built up momentum before uttering a simple sentence with dramatic pauses between each word that generated one of the longer applause lines of the rally.
Jaci Winship, executive director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, agreed.
“They come from all over the state, in all walks of life,” she said, the crowd surging around her. “That really typifies our campaign and our effort. People from all over this state care greatly about this issue, and they are going to roll up their sleeves and continue to work to truly ban human cloning in Missouri.
“I know people aren’t giving up. I get responses all the time from people across this state. They’re ready to do whatever it takes.”
Bartle is sponsoring Senate Joint Resolution 20 and Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, is sponsoring House Joint Resolution 11 in an effort to give voters an opportunity in 2008 to ban human cloning. Both measures are bogged down in the legislative process, although Lembke said his resolution could get out of committee if 55 representatives sign a discharge petition and ask House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, to put it on the calendar,
Rep. Belinda Harris, D-Hillsboro and chair of the 29-member House Democrats for life, was disgusted when Amendment 2, which is nearly 2,000 words long, was voted into the Missouri Constitution.
“We just want to make sure Missourians get a chance to really vote their conscience without deceiving ballot language,” said Harris, who is a member of MBC-affiliated Morse Mill Baptist Church.
Although the ballot language said the amendment would ban cloning, the text of the amendment itself said “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” which is the scientific name for cloning, would be allowed. In effect, then, the amendment banned reproductive cloning while protecting therapeutic cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the same procedure that produced the cloned sheep, Dolly.
Bartle noted that Amendment 2 failed in 97 of 116 counties.
“I love that old Chinese proverb that says persistence can grind an iron beam into a needle,” he said “I challenge you, take up your file today. Let’s start grinding this iron beam down into a needle. We will not stop until we are successful.”
The Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission was one of 17 organizations to sponsor the rally.