Back in April, we wrote about Missouri's difficulty grappling with the stem cell issue. While some republicans want it because it's good for biotech business, other R's see it as the great Satan to be faught tooth and nail in the courts and otherwise. And now what's up for discussion is a state amendment allowing stem cell work to proceed.
To many socially conservative Republicans and religious leaders in Missouri, however, a new political campaign to legalize and protect such research is an evil to be fought in courtrooms, churches and polling stations.
Lawrence Weber, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, called it "morally reprehensible science." Bishops instructed priests to deliver pointed homilies.
Voters may be asked to decide. After the courts weigh in, that is.
At issue is an amendment to the Missouri constitution proposed for the November 2006 ballot by a well-funded coalition of research institutions and patient advocacy groups frustrated by legislative attempts to ban early stem cell work in a state with a significant stake in biomedical research.
If voters support the amendment, Missouri would be the first state to formally recognize a right for scientists to conduct federally approved embryonic stem cell research, and for patients to receive treatment, backers say.
"We're not trying to fund stem cell research," said Donn Rubin, chairman of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which has collected $2.9 million for the ballot drive. "All we're trying to do is to ensure the freedom in our state to pursue cutting-edge medical research and to ensure that when cures and treatments are found, Missourians have the same access as any other American would have."
This intersection with politics and science in a Republican midwestern state might be the perfect test between the faith-based and reality-based communities. Imagine if Republican Missouri votes reality. it might even restore one's faith in politics.
Merry Christmas, all!