A contentious issue from 2006 has re-emerged in Missouri, ahead of next year’s election. Republicans and Democrats are looking for ways to drive more voters to the polls, and one way could be to put embryonic stem cell research on the ballot.
Missouri voters passed a ballot measure in 2006 to protect any stem cell research, stem cell therapies or cures.
Attorney General Chris Koster is speaking out against what he’s calling renewed attempts to prevent Missouri institutions from conducting stem cell research. He cited a story by the Columbia Daily Tribune reporting that Missouri Right to Life is preparing to “launch an assault” on groundbreaking work.
“Republicans are again going back and fighting the stem cell wars that were settled back in 2005 and 2006. We had major fights during those years. Republicans were trying to criminalize this life-saving research,” said Koster. “What we want to make sure is that these researchers are protected in our state and that medical research is given the opportunity to progress freely without the religious wars of Jefferson City.”
Susan Klein with Missouri Right to Life, a pro-life organization, accuses Koster of misleading the public about what the group stands for.
“He’s trying to classify and put Missouri Right to Life in a category where we oppose all research and that’s just not true,” said Klein. “If and when there was ever any kind of an initiative that came from the pro-life side of this issue, it would absolutely not be to criminalize or to change research for adult stem cell research. It would be to clarify that you can not do embryonic stem cell research or human cloning and especially you can’t do it with our tax dollars.”
Klein said she’s unsure if an effort to end embryonic stem cell research in Missouri will be on the ballot in 2016, but says it’s an issue that’s always discussed. She said Missouri Right to Life is, however, working on legislation to introduce during the 2016 legislative session. She said it’s still early, but the group’s priorities would be to expand abortion clinic inspections and implement a ban on abortions that involve dismemberment.