Commentary by Judie Brown
If you asked for a show of hands in response to the simple question, "Who's in favor of human cloning?" you might think that affirmative answers would only come from a handful of mad scientists or diehard science fiction fanatics. In a sane world, that would be the response you would expect; indeed, an overwhelming majority of people are against human cloning. Such is the case in Missouri, where voters are being presented with a November 7 ballot proposal: an amendment dealing with human cloning.
The amendment's backers are clever in their approach and determined to have their language inserted in the state constitution. In their sales pitch, they claim their proposal will outlaw human cloning-a statement that can only be described as a bald-faced lie.
To make their argument resound, the supporters of Amendment 2 have poured $28 million into their planned deception of the Missouri voting public. They have paraded out the big names we have come to associate with advocacy for human embryonic stem cell research. For example, in a recent television ad, Michael J. Fox trembles while saying, "As you might know I care deeply about stem cell research." Fox further implies support for Amendment 2 by stating, "In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures." McCaskill is running against Sen. James Talent, who opposes human embryonic stem cell research.
My heart goes out to Fox. No one of good will wants him to suffer as he does from Parkinson's disease. But few people would want to see innocent human beings killed so that others might experience a false hope of some day being cured from a mythical promise that has no basis in fact.
This is why actress Patricia Heaton and actor James Caviezel joined forces with past and present Missouri athletes-quarterback Kurt Warner (formerly of the St. Louis Rams), pitcher Jeff Suppan of the St. Louis Cardinals and first-baseman Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals-in a TV spot against Amendment 2 scheduled for airing during baseball's World Series, which is being played in St. Louis. After all, they know that absolutely no cures or potential treatments have come from human embryonic stem cell research.
However, when people are in the business-and it is a business-of using scientific practices for the express purpose of creating body parts and the like, there isn't much they won't do to convey a message that hides the reality of what they want to do. And that is precisely where the Missouri voting public comes into play in this high stakes game of manipulation, deception and corruption.
Let's examine the facts and see why there is so much misinformation floating about.
First of all, the proposed Missouri constitutional amendment contains more than 2,000 words. Voters will not be given the precise language but rather a carefully crafted synopsis of what the language will purportedly accomplish if it is added to the state's constitution.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Why impose the burden of reading the entire 2,000 words on the unsuspecting voter? Why not simply provide a thumbnail sketch? Ah, but that's the rub. The voter is going to read that Amendment 2 bans human cloning, and since that is what most right-thinking people would prefer, the inclination will be to vote "yes."
However, upon careful examination we find that contained in those 2,000 words is the truth that human cloning for research purposes is going to be constitutionally protected. As long as the scientists who are doing the cloning complete their research and kill the human embryonic child, what they are doing is permitted under this amendment. In actuality, Amendment 2 will protect a policy that is neatly described, in plain English, as "clone and kill."
Surely that is not what the Missouri voters want enshrined in their state constitution. But while even stalwart political leaders like Senator John Danforth tell the public that Amendment 2 bans human cloning, all the measure bans is the type of human cloning which results in a preborn human embryonic baby who is allowed to live longer than 14 days.
Amendment 2 promises the sort of medical breakthroughs and cures that have become second nature to those who press forward with human embryonic stem cell research. Again, the fact is that human embryonic stem cell research has provided no such breakthroughs and no such cures. It has only provided a platform for delivering false promises to seriously ill patients. The people who make such promises are the same ones who never address the abysmal failure of such research and never, ever discuss the amazing successes that are coming about by using adult stem cells, a moral treatment that does not require the killing of embryonic human beings.
There are no huge biotech dollars to be made by helping patients overcome their illnesses by using their own stem cells. The only large profit margins being seen on Wall Street are those reported by the biotech companies that have no ethical problem with cloning or human embryonic stem cell research. The only "ethical" problem that affects such people is their corporate bottom line. Red is bad, black is good.
But big names and big money aside, truth is still the first victim in the campaign to pass Amendment 2 and that's why Missouri's Catholic bishops issued a joint pastoral letter exposing these facts. In their letter the bishops make it crystal clear that no innocent human being deserves to be killed. These heroic bishops care deeply about the people who suffer from these serious diseases and they care about human embryonic children. This is why the bishops state, "We must vote, and we must vote 'No.' In the United States, the least of our brothers and sisters are the unborn children threatened by abortion, and the human embryos artificially produced to be destroyed as mere objects of research."
James Sherley, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology associate professor of biological engineering, has confirmed all that we understand is bad about Amendment 2. He states, "Proponents of therapeutic cloning have set up reproductive cloning as the greater of two evils and then insisted that the public must choose one. This leaves the public with therapeutic cloning as the lesser evil. In fact we can reject them both as evils."
He further said that those who are promoting therapeutic cloning are "protecting their own turf and promoting their own goals with a variety of motivations, including, in some cases, the best intentions of doing public good."
Finally, as the prescient columnist Robert Novak wrote in his October 16 column:
Unequivocally, the proposal tries to keep politicians from interfering with its approved cloning process: "[N]o state or local government body or official shall eliminate, reduce, deny or withhold any public funds provided or eligible to be provided to a person that lawfully conducts stem cell research or provides stem cell therapies and cures."
"This language," contends the Missourians Against Human Cloning television ad, "provides biotech firms a blank check for taxpayer dollars to support unethical and unproven research that Missourians oppose." If government-approved cloning can be sold to the barometer pro-life state of Missouri, it will show up next in other states with major research facilities.
There you have it; the bald, bold truth of it. There is no doubt Missouri is going to either set the example for the nation on how to beat back the evil empire of biotech doublespeak, or it is going to fall prey to the wiles of the serpentine appeal that is embedded in the many statements supporting Amendment 2.
It seems to me that we Americans cannot afford to ignore Missouri at this crucial hour.
If you have money, send it. If you have the ability to volunteer in that state, do it. If you have doubts, visit www.2tricky.org and learn. Above all, if you can pray, please storm heaven as never before.
In 1815 at the battle of Waterloo, Napoleon faced an enormous force and his fate was sealed. Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne. He took the battle for granted, and his arrogance defeated him.
In 2006 Missourians are facing an onslaught of star power, big money and lies beyond all telling. They must find the strength to overcome, to defeat Amendment 2, to win the struggle to defend the most vulnerable. Arrogance, once again, must be defeated.
Release issued: 26 Oct 06