Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 (2006)

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Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 (The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative) is a state constitutional amendment initiative that concerns stem cell research and human cloning in Missouri. It would allow any stem cell research and therapy in Missouri that is legal under federal law, including somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce human embryos for stem cell production; it prohibits cloning or attempting to clone a human being, which is defined to mean "to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being."[1] It appeared on the ballot for the November 2006 general election and passed with 51% of the votes. This issue became especially intertwined with the Senate election with the Republican and Democratic candidates on opposite sides of the issue.

Support[edit]

The organization that led the movement to get the initiative on the ballot and later supported its adoption is called The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. The measure was proposed to stop repeated attempts by the Missouri Legislature to ban certain types of stem cell research, namely SCNT. During the 2006 election, Claire McCaskill, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, supported the measure. McCaskill unseated Senator Jim Talent, who opposed the measure, the same night that the amendment passed.

During the 2006 World Series, which was partially held in St. Louis, a television ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox aired. While Fox was by name supporting McCaskill, and the ad was paid for by McCaskill's campaign, the primary reason Fox gave for his support was that McCaskill supported stem cell research. The advertisement was controversial because Fox was visibly suffering tremors, the most visible symptom of the side effects of the medications used to treat Parkinson's Syndrome. Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host, criticized Fox for allowing himself to have been used by special interests supporting the measure. Limbaugh criticized the uncontrollable movements that Fox made in the commercial, and claimed that it was Fox had either deliberately stopped taking his medication or was feigning his tremors.

Opposition[edit]

The coalition organization that led the opposition to the initiative was called Missourians Against Human Cloning. It was supported by Life Communications Fund that created a series of "vote no" ads for television, radio and print after conducting research to determine high targeted messaging. Earlier in the campaign the Vitae Foundation,known for their non-confrontational,research based pro-life media, ran a series of educational ads to cause a greater understanding of the differences between adult and embryonic stem cell research. The very effective research based ads brought about a 40% shift to their favor. That shift helped pave the way for the coalition organizations to move the Missouri electorate to voting against the embryonic stem cell measure. Jim Talent, an incumbent Republican US Senator facing re-election, was one of several candidates opposed to Amendment 2.

Those opposed to the Amendment also include many who disagreed with wording in the amendment. They argued that the measure does not actually ban human cloning, but merely the attempt to implant cloned embryos into a human uterus. This has caused some people who are opposed to human cloning to be opposed to the Amendment. Some believe that the Amendment actually redefines human cloning from the commonly accepted scientific definition. Some opponents also believe that the Amendment includes vague language that could be interpreted by courts to make government funding of embryonic stem cell research a constitutional right (particularly the language in major sections 5 and 7 of the full-text of the Amendment link listed in "External Links"). Other opponents felt that this type of legislation is best handled through the legislative process carried out by the elected officials rather than by amending the state Constitution. Finally, stem cell research was legal in Missouri prior to the passing of the amendment.

In rebuttal to the Michael J. Fox advertisement (which never directly mentioned Amendment 2), a Life Communications television ad with several celebrities appeared in opposition to the measure. At least three of the celebrities opposed the measure for religious reasons: Kurt Warner, former St. Louis Rams quarterback; Kansas City Royals baseball player Mike Sweeney, and James Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ speaking apparently Aramaic in the spot. Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond appeared on grounds that low-income women would be exploited for their eggs. Jeff Suppan, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals also appeared in opposition to the amendment.[2]

Public sentiment[edit]

As election day drew near, public support seemed to be shifting away from Amendment 2. Polls had shown support as high as 68% in favor of the Amendment in December 2005.[3] As of October 29, 2006. Support had fallen to just 51% with 35% opposed.[4] Life Communications Fund was responsible for nearly all of broadcast media opposing Amendment 2. Post election polling by John McLaughlin and Associates, showed that a majority of those who voted "No" got their information from television.

On November 7, 2006, Amendment 2 passed with a margin of 2.4% (50,800 votes). The final tally of votes ended in 51.2% for yes and 48.8% for no.[5] The measure failed in 97 of the 114 counties in the state but picked up enough votes in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia (and their surrounding counties) to pass statewide. Due to the very close vote that made it virtually impossible to recruit researchers to come to Missoui, Stowers Institute for Medical Research canceled plans for a major expansion in Kansas City [which was the motivation for the ballot initiative on their part], calling the political climate in Missouri too hostile for investment.[6]

The very expensive effort broke every record on political spending for statewide races in Missouri.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ballot Language for Amendment 2
  2. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nguJQ_dRPXw
  3. ^ Statewide Poll shows 2 to 1 Support for Amendment 2
  4. ^ October 2006: McCaskill and Talent deadlocked
  5. ^ Final Results for Amendment 2 from MO SOS
  6. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/01/nation/na-stemcell1
  7. ^ [St.Louis Post Dispatch 10/17/06]

External links[edit]