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Missouri Stem Cell Limitation Initiative (2008)

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The Missouri Stem Cell Prohibition Initiative did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Missouri as an initiated constitutional amendment. Proponents gave up the effort until 2010 after the ballot language was tied up in litigation and an unfavorable ruling came down just days before signatures needed to be submitted to qualify for the ballot.[1]

The objective of the measure was to prohibit cloning in Missouri. Cures Without Cloning (CWC) was the leading proponent of the measure. The constitutional amendment would have supported proven research and treatments for lifesaving cures and would have prohibit human cloning.[2]

Status

This measure failed to gather enough signatures for the May 4th deadline.[3]

Background

The Stem Cell Prohibition Initiative was a response to Missouri Amendment Two, an initiative authorizing embryonic stem cell research that passed in 2006 with slightly over 51% of the vote.

Cures Without Cloning was an attempt to eliminate the provision making human cloning legal that was authorized in the 2006 measure. The 2006 initiative allowed for cloning of human embryos as long as those embryos were never implanted in a woman's womb, allowing cloning for research purposes. This measure would have prohibited all human embryo cloning.

Litigation over ballot title

On October 19, 2007, the supporters of the initiative sued Robin Carnahan, the Missouri Secretary of State, over the ballot title and fiscal impact statement her office gave to the proposed initiative.[4] On February 20, 2008, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce ruled against Secretary of State Carnahan's ballot language, calling it "insufficient and unfair."[5] This is the second time in a month that a Carnahan ballot title was judicially overruled.

The Secretary of State's office appealed the ruling. The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals issued its ruling May 2, 2008, siding with the Secretary of State in defense of the ballot summary. The court did make one change in the language: substituting the word "change" for "repeal."[1]

Lori Buffa, spokesperson for the stem cell prohibition initiative said of Judge Joyce's ruling, "This ruling proves what we’ve said (all) along: that our clear, concise initiative would prohibit human cloning and the taxpayer funding of human cloning in Missouri."[6] Carnahan's office has indicated that they will appeal Judge Joyce's ruling.[7]

The successful plaintiffs had alleged that:

"[Robin Carnahan's] summary statement, fiscal note summary, and fiscal note present an inaccurate, incomplete, unfair, prejudicial, and biased argument regarding Plaintiffs’ proposal, but purport to be unbiased and fair and carry the imprimatur of the state. Upon information and belief, based on the severe inadequacies and evident bias in Defendants’ performance of their duties, Defendants acted with the intent to produce and publish to Missouri voters inaccurate, incomplete, unfair, prejudicial, and biased arguments in an effort to burden and frustrate their fundamental rights to engage in political speech, association, petition the government, and amend the Missouri Constitution."

The ballot title chosen by Carnahan, now overruled, said in part:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to repeal the current ban on human cloning."

Supporters of the initiative say that their measure strengthens the state's ban on cloning and in no way repeals current cloning bans. The new ban would ban any cloning of a single cell from a human embryo.[8]

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s chief of staff, Mindy Mazure, said "We’re confident that the summary language is fair and reflects how the constitution would be changed if this initiative were to get on the ballot and were passed."[9]

Curt Mercadante, spokesman for Cures Without Cloning said, "This is obviously in a form that does not represent what the amendment does. We’re not repealing the current ban, we’re adding to it. The constitution currently bans some cloning, ours bans all of it."[10]


Practical impact of the ballot title fight

As a practical matter, by providing the proposed initiative with a ballot title that was questionable enough to sustain a successful legal fight against it, Secretary of State Carnahan's office has delayed the ability of the pro-initiative group to start collecting signatures. Indications from her office that they will appeal Judge Joyce's ruling keeps the pro-initiative forces in legal limbo, even though they have prevailed against a ballot title judicially described as "insufficent and unfair." Supporters believe these tactics from Carnahan's office are an example of justice delayed is justice denied.

See also

External links

Additional reading

References