The group Cures Without Cloning on Wednesday filed a ballot proposal with the Missouri Secretary of State seeking to modify a state constitutional amendment that protects human embryonic stem cell research, the AP/Joplin Globe reports (Lieb, AP/Joplin Globe, 8/23).

The amendment -- titled the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative and approved by Missouri voters in November 2006 -- ensures that stem cell research permitted under federal law is protected in the state and prohibits human cloning. It also allows stem cell research that involves somatic cell nuclear transfer, which some opponents consider a type of human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is conducted by inserting the genetic material from a patient's cell -- usually from a skin cell -- into an unfertilized egg from another person. The patient's genetic material incorporates into the egg and causes it to develop into an embryo that is a genetic match to the skin cell patient (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 12/20/06).

The proposed ballot measure for the November 2008 election would create a new definition of cloning that would ban somatic cell nuclear transfer, the AP/Globe reports. The measure also would bar tax dollars from funding research using techniques banned by the definition. The proposal would not repeal the cloning definition in the current amendment, which would place "contradicting sections" in the state constitution, according to the AP/Globe. Curt Mercandante, spokesperson for Cures Without Cloning, said the proposal is "not conflicting with [the old amendment] as much as it adding on to the definition of what human cloning is."

Lori Buffa, chair of Cures Without Cloning, said the proposal is meant to "just make it clear that human cloning within the state of Missouri would be prohibited," adding that the state constitution "currently has confusing language, which allows the same method of cloning that was used to create Dolly the sheep" (AP/Joplin Globe, 8/23). Donn Rubin, chair of Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, said, "This measure is anti-patient, anti-hope, anti-cures and completely unnecessary." He added, "Today, groundbreaking research is moving forward in Missouri, and patients, families and doctors are free to make medical decisions. Our coalition will aggressively work to protect those constitutional guarantees for all Missourians" (MCLC release, 8/22). Stowers Institute President and CEO William Neaves called supporters of the proposal "a handful of naysayers who want to rob Missouri citizens" of opportunities for cures. He added, "Embryonic stem cell research is not human cloning. Embryonic stem cells, including those made by nuclear transfer, represent hope for millions of patients" (AP/Joplin Globe, 8/23).

"Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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