Last week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed into law an economic development bill that, among other things, provides public money and/or tax incentives for new technology businesses, including businesses engaged in human life sciences research, without effective language to prevent funding of abortion-related services, human cloning, or embryonic stem cell research. The bill was passed this way by an otherwise “pro-life” Republican-controlled House and Senate that rejected protective language that had been promoted by Missouri Right to Life at every step of the process. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this problem. For several years now the Republican leadership in the Missouri Legislature has appropriated hundreds of thousands of State funds to a very pro-cloning life science industry without adequate pro-life protection. This would be bad enough under normal circumstances, but it is particularly unacceptable since the passage of “Amendment 2” in 2006 has given scientists a “constitutional right” not only to conduct human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, but to receive government funding for it as well. Not only have these legislators been funding to these cloning friendly businesses, but they have also blocked numerous attempts to get a true ban on human cloning on the books in our State (something that was once supported by a majority of Republicans in the legislature).
Naturally, the question many pro-lifers like myself have been asking ourselves is, why? Once upon a time, Missouri had a solid legislative pro-life majority willing to uphold those principles on all life issues, even cloning and stem cell research. What happened? In this month’s Missouri Right to Life newsletter, President Pam Fichter offers some suggestions:
Supporters of unethical research have invested tremendous sums of money in promoting their cause to the legislators. While tracking money in politics is like following water downhill, a review of the reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission just before and since the 2006 passage of Amendment 2 reveals that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to legislators by pro-cloning PAC’s. MRL has identified at least three pro-cloning PAC’s: Supporters of Health Research and Treatment, The Greater K.C. Chamber of Commerce, which spun off a specific procloning PAC called The Life Sciences of Greater K.C. Chamber. There could be additional pro-cloning groups making donations to legislators of which we’re currently unaware.
But the pro-cloning money is only one possible answer to the defection of pro-life support on the issue of cloning and embryonic stem cell research in the Missouri Legislature. The decline of the economy nationwide and in Missouri – and the desire of many legislators to improve economic conditions in Missouri – led many of them to put aside pro-life concerns if doing otherwise was perceived to imperil economic development. This false choice was promoted by the pro-cloning lobbyists, particularly MOBIO, a leading advocate of unrestricted research and of Amendment 2.
To their credit, our lawmakers have remained steadfast in doing what they can to fight abortion through the legislature, but when it comes to cloning and embryonic stem cell research, essentially, what has happened here is that, for Republicans especially, these pro-life issues have clashed with the pro-business/economic development issue and, unfortunately, the business side is winning. For years the biotech industry has been seen as one of the most promising sources of high-quality jobs in the state and the MO legislature has been giving them money and tax incentives in order to encourage them to expand their research facilities and give our state a much needed economic boost. But without adequate pro-life protections, that boost comes at the cost of innocent human life.
All I can say is, thank God for Missouri Right to Life. We have numerous pro-life/pro-family organizations in this state, many of whom have lobbyists up at the Capitol, but only MRL has kept our legislators’ feet to the fire on this issue – and then held them accountable for the way they vote. We’ve made lots of enemies because of this, but human cloning is one of the most pressing pro-life issue of our time. We’re talking about manufacturing human life specifically for scientific research…and we’re no longer talking about it hypothetically! The least we can do is make sure we’re not subsidizing this horrific research with public funds. Obviously we haven’t been totally successful at getting this done, but at least we’re faithful and that’s all God really asks of us. (p.s. if there’s any way you can help MRL out financially, they could sure use it!)