That book title, written by outspoken Liberal commentator Al Franken about conservatives, quite accurately describes Missouri’s pro-cloning biotech crowd who worked so feverishly to pass Amendment 2 last year which enshrined a right to human cloning research in the Missouri Constitution. One of the most gaping loopholes written into the amendment was a guarantee of unrestricted state funds for anyone “lawfully conducting stem cell research”. When opponents pointed this out, we were promised by supporters that it was not funding they were seeking but only the protection of ‘stem cell research’ in the state of Missouri. All we need, they told us, is the passage of Amendment 2, no money, just a constitutional right to “lawfully conduct stem cell research” and ensure that Missourians have “access to stem cell therapies and cures”.
That tune soon changed when lawmakers began debate on the ‘MOHELA’ bill (signed by Gov. Blunt today) which gives money to colleges from the sale of Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority assets. Originally a certain amount of the money was supposed to be spent on projects like the Life Science Incubators at the University of Missouri until pro-life lawmakers stripped those funds from the bill and decided that the “life sciences” money could only be used for plant and animal life science. That sent Missouri’s big biotech into a tizzy, and had them threatening, once again, that Missouri is driving away real scientific progress. Bill Neaves, president of the Stower’s Institute, said this is a “huge setback for us.” And professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania said that these actions are “read as warning signs throughout the scientific community to stay away from Missouri.”
Hold the phone! I thought that the passage of Amendment 2 alone, regardless of funding, meant that the scientific community would be tripping over its feet to get into Missouri. How could the denial of funding they said they didn’t need and wouldn’t ask for be a “set back” that would cripple Missouri’s biotech industry? Missouri has, enshrined in its constitution, a protected right to whatever life destroying research they want with absolutely no legislative oversight. What more do they want?
What they want is MONEY. They’re now proving what we pointed out all throughout the campaign process – human cloning research is, first and foremost, about money and lots of it. That is why they put language into the amendment that also gives them a constitutional right to unrestricted state funds. It is precisely because of this language that groups like Missouri Right to Life and the Missouri Catholic Conference still opposed the passage of MOHELA despite the apparent restrictions put in place regarding life science research. According to the amendment no laws may “prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research,” or “create disincentives.” I don’t know about you, but withdrawing funds originally slated for human life sciences (including cloning and ESC research) sure sounds like a disincentive to me and it could be challenged in court to be found unconstitutional.
I hate to say I told you so, but…on second thought, no I don’t. I (and other Amendment 2 opponents) told you this would happen. They didn’t spend $30 million on an intentionally deceiving campaign to buy a constitutional amendment for nothing.
For more on Amendment 2 and its impact on our laws and our state visit Missouri Roundtable for Life.