Stem Cell Amendment

Okay, I’ve been pretty good about not posting political commentary lately, but I cringe everytime I see one of the anti-Amendment 2 signs; you know, the ones that say “Know the Truth” and point to nocloning.org

I’m sorry, but in my mind this –
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deserves more respect and more of a chance than this-
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Here is the important text on page 1 of the actual amendment:

2. To ensure that Missouri patients have access to stem cell therapies and cures, that Missouri researchers can conduct stem cell research in the state, and that all such research is conducted safely and ethically, any stem cell research permitted under federal law may be conducted in Missouri, and any stem cell therapies and cures permitted under federal law may be provided to patients in Missouri, subject to the requirements of federal law and only the following additional limitations and requirements:
(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.
(2) No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research.
(3) No stem cells may be taken from a human blastocyst more than fourteen days after cell division begins; provided, however, that time during which a blastocyst is frozen does not count against the fourteen-day limit.
(4) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.
(5) Human blastocysts and eggs obtained for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures must have been donated with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing.

This is on the very first page of the amendment. It seems pretty clear that:

  • You can’t create an army of clones
  • You can’t hire a bunch of women as egg donors
  • The only blastocyst (early embryos) that you can use are those left-overs from invitro fertilization that would get flushed if they aren’t used for research.

The anti-amendment 2 people are trying to imply that the definition list included at the end of the amendment allows cloning and buying of eggs.  Sorry, it’s just not there:

6. As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Blastocyst” means a small mass of cells that results from cell division, caused either by fertilization or somatic cell nuclear transfer, that has not been implanted in a uterus.
(2) “Clone or attempt to clone a human being” means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.
(3) “Donated” means donated for use in connection either with scientific or medical research or with medical treatment.
(5) “Human embryonic stem cell research,” also referred to as “early stem cell research,” means any scientific or medical research involving human stem cells derived from in vitro fertilization blastocysts or from somatic cell nuclear transfer. For purposes of this section, human embryonic stem cell research does not include stem cell clinical trials.
(13) “Stem cell” means a cell that can divide multiple times and give rise to specialized cells in the body, and includes but is not limited to the stem cells generally referred to as (i) adult stem cells that are found in some body tissues (including but not limited to adult stem cells derived from adult body tissues and from discarded umbilical cords and placentas), and (ii) embryonic stem cells (including but not limited to stem cells derived from in vitro fertilization blastocysts and from cell reprogramming techniques such as somatic cell nuclear transfer).
(17) “Valuable consideration” means financial gain or advantage, but does not include reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred in connection with the removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage, transfer, or donation of human eggs, sperm, or blastocysts, including lost wages of the donor. Valuable consideration also does not include the consideration paid to a donor of human eggs or sperm by a fertilization clinic or sperm bank, as well as any other consideration expressly allowed by federal law.

Yes, you can alter the stem cells using genes from other people to create compatible tissue – that’s how the research works, but that’s not the same as creating clones of people.  Yes, you can reimburse the donor, but it’s not like it’s going to be a money making venture.