Backers of the stem cell iniviative on the November ballot line up a paraplegic, a minister, a woman on kidney dialysis and a prominent Missouri statesman to kick of their campaign to get their issue approved. The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures wants to make it unconstitutional to ban any research in Missouri that is allowed by federal law. The kickoff rally in Jefferson City has featured a college student paralyzed in a car wreck who hopes embryonic stem cell research can let him walk again, a black minister who hopes the research cures sickle cell anemia, a dialysis patient who hopes for a diabetes cure… And former senator John Danforth, an Episcopal minister, who says the vote is necessary because some state legislators, last year, tried to make criminals of researchers dealing with embryonic stem cells. Danforth says the legislature cannot take one religious position and support it through legislation in a way that criminalizes another religious position. He says people with disabilities or degenerative diseases,and their families, have prayed for strength and for courage for years. He says the job of those backing the stem cell initiative is to make it possible for researchers with their own relgiious commitments to cure and to save people to go about work that will answer those prayers. Danforth says he knows the importance of the issue from experience—because his brother, Donald, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Traditional pro-life groups have come out opposed to the proposed amendment. But Danforth says the finding cures for real people is the real pro-life position.
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