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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

25 October 2006

A Bad Amendment

Editor of Local Paper Against Amendment 2

NOTE: The following copyrighted article was written by Gary Beissenherz, publisher and editor of The Concordian, the city newspaper of Concordia, Missouri. Since the paper is not online, I asked and received his permission to reprint in its entirety his editorial opposing Amendment 2. Please do not reproduce it without the consent of Gary Beissenherz and The Concordian.

Senator StoufferState Sen. Bill Stouffer calls Amendment 2 “just plain bad law.” Missourians Against Human Cloning calls the amendment “confusing and misleading.” Missouri Roundtable For Life says, “This cloning initiative is perhaps the boldest attempt ever to hijack the legitimate processes, procedures, and functions of representative government in Missouri. Its basic mechanism is a language structure that is designed to defeat the casual reader in subsequent subsections.”

Dr. OnderRobert F. Onder, M.D., J.D., Washington University School of Medicine, states, “As much as proponents may deny it, this initiative would create a constitutional right to do human cloning in the state of Missouri. Human cloning does not belong in our constitution. The initiative would also prevent the Legislature from restricting funding for human cloning and embryo research. In other words, the initiative would create a right to clone and kill human embryos, and it would require all of us to pay for it.”

Lutherans for Life says Amendment 2 legitimizes the cloning of human beings as a constitutional right and mandates the destruction of human beings so created.

Dr. CholeRichard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, says, “The proposed amendment would protect a process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) in the Missouri state constitution. SCNT is the scientific term for cloning embryos. In the case of human SCNT, it results in a living human being at the embryonic stage.”

The Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative is a deceptive proposal with the real purpose of protecting human cloning, and opening the door to government funding of human cloning. It would lead to the exploitation of women and take resources away from proven research using adult stem cells. Consider some of the contradictions.

• While Section 2:1 says “No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being,” Section 6:2 states, “‘Clone or attempt to clone’ means to implant in a uterus ... anything other than the product of fertilization....” Lutherans for Life explains, “Cloning takes place before implantation. Dolly the sheep was Dolly the sheep several days before she was implanted into a uterus. Saying that cloning is implanting is contrary to the universally accepted scientific definition of cloning. Implanting is one of the things you can do with a cloned human being, but it is not cloning. Since implantation is not allowed, embryos created by cloning must be destroyed.”

• Section 2:2 states, “No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research.” But Section 6:11 states, “‘Solely for the purpose of stem cell research’ means producing human blastocysts using in vitro fertilization exclusively for stem cell research, but does not include producing any number of human blastocysts for the purpose of treating infertility.” The truth, says Lutherans for Life, is that “as long as the production of blastocysts (human embryos) is not solely for the purpose of research — in other words, if they are also being produced to treat infertility — these embryos can be used for research.”

• Section 2:4 states, “No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research,” but Section 6:17 states, “‘Valuable consideration’ ... does not include the consideration paid to a donor of human eggs or sperm by a fertilization clinic or sperm bank....” This means payment for eggs could be outsourced to fertility clinics, which would become the middle man in the business of selling and buying eggs.

The amendment would change a number of other sections in the Missouri constitution, and the amendment’s ambiguous language would supersede medically accurate language already in legislation.

The entire amendment is on page 9 of this week’s Concordian [view complete text in PDF format from Missourians Against Human Cloning; wps]. Read it yourself so you can make an informed decision on Nov. 7. We don’t need this kind of language in our constitution.

Article © 2006, The Concordian, Concordia, Missouri and reproduced by permission. Links, photographs, and bracketed comments inserted by Walter P. Snyder.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Blogger solarblogger said...

Laws written like this, even when they have a good purpose behind them, should be rejected. Some laws are bad just because of muddled writing, purposeful or not. I think this law also has nefarious ends. But the bad writing alone would be reason to reject it, even for those who believed in embryonic stem cell research.

I often find myself reading ballot measures to determine not only whether I agree with the ends in view, but whether the law has one clear identifiable purpose. When it does not, I wait for a later and better one to do the job.

01 November, 2006 19:12  

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