MBC renews quest to stop cloning
Southern Baptists are key supporters
in pro-life coalition
JEFFERSON CITY—Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Interim Executive Director David Tolliver said Missouri Southern Baptists are united with Cures Without Cloning (CWC), a campaign that was set in motion Aug. 22 when its chairwoman filed papers with the secretary of state’s office for a constitutional amendment that ultimately may be decided in the November 2008 general election.
“We want the citizens of Missouri to know that the Missouri Baptist Convention is fully behind and in support of the Cures Without Cloning coalition,” Tolliver said. “We’re a part of the coalition and intend to participate in every way we can.
“We are 100 percent pro-life. We’re for long life. We’re for healthy life. We’re for cures in scientific research—but without cloning.”
In the first campaign, which ended last November in a 51-49 defeat for Baptists in a pro-life coalition, a constitutional amendment protecting embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) and therapeutic cloning was established. The ballot language said the amendment would ban cloning, but the text of the amendment itself said “somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT),” the scientific name for cloning, would be allowed. In reality, the amendment simply banned reproductive cloning while protecting therapeutic cloning. SCNT is the same procedure that produced the cloned sheep, Dolly.
Reclaiming the word “cures” is intentional, according to a CWC insider who is helping the second campaign formulate strategy in the war on deception. One of the painful lessons learned in defeat is that the coalition needs to focus on what it is for; CWC is an attempt to do just that.
Last year proponents of cloning rallied under the banner of “Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures.” This time around, Missouri Baptists and other members of a CWC emphasis that promises to be “broad-based and grassroots” plan to operate in the affirmative. Last year’s campaign fell short of victory by just 49,000 votes out of 2.1 million cast, amassing 1,028,495 votes despite their opponents spending $30 million in a “pro-cures” campaign that featured nine solid months of television and radio advertising.
“Cures” is fresh. Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission, said his first impression of the new name is positive.
“Missouri Baptists have contended, along with pro-life Missourians, that cures in our state and throughout the nation can be achieved without cloning,” Albert said. “Now secular science continues to assert that, and to give us proof that we can achieve real cures in this country against real diseases without cloning.”
Lori Buffa, a pediatrician from St. Peters, is the face of CWC. She held court for a swarm of media Aug. 22 just outside the secretary of state’s office, where she, as CWC chairwoman, filed the proposed ballot language.
“I am not here as a paid spokesperson or because I have a political agenda,” she said. “I am here as part of a statewide coalition of doctors, academics and citizens who are joining with us together in this effort to support proven research and treatments for lifesaving cures by prohibiting human cloning in Missouri.”
One of the entities within the CWC-led coalition is Missourians Against Human Cloning (MAHC), which is the group credited with turning out the one million voters last year. MAHC Executive Director Jaci Winship emphasized that the two organizations are entirely separate but generally supportive. Winship said MAHC commends CWC for attempting to close the cloning loophole that currently exists in the Missouri Constitution.
“We support it wholeheartedly, and we’re encouraging our grassroots network to participate in the initiative petition effort,” Winship said.
Buffa explained why the www.mocureswithoutcloning.com initiative is needed.
“As a physician, I am familiar with stem cell research, with medical journals, and it is undisputed in the medical community that somatic cell nuclear transfer is the process of human cloning,” she said. “That is undisputed. The language that’s currently in the constitution is very confusing, and we’re here to clarify that.”
Last year’s constitutional amendment, which went by the name of “Amendment 2,” has approximately 2,000 words; the CWC proposal has only 187. Buffa called it very simple, clear, narrow and straightforward.
The $30 million push that successfully placed Amendment 2 into the Missouri Constitution was bankrolled mainly by Jim and Virginia Stowers, founders of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City. Stowers wants to see more of an economic emphasis on various forms of biotechnological research in Missouri, including, of course, the ESCR that was legal in Missouri even before Amendment 2 passed. It is not known how many millions of dollars Stowers may allocate to turn back the proposed CWC initiative.
From a medical perspective, the passion that Stowers continues to exhibit toward ESCR is perplexing.
“Any experimentation that has been done in that area has resulted in tumors,” Buffa said. “None have been successful. There are other forms of stem cell research that do not require human cloning that have proven cures.”