I’m leaning heavily against The Stem Cell Initiative, though I do believe stem cell research should be allowed as it is now under Missouri law. At this point, I will either leave the question blank or vote “no”. Here are the specific pros and cons, as I see them:
- It specifies what currently appears to be a reasonable limit on how late in development stem cells can be harvested.
- It prohibits fertilizing eggs solely for harvesting stem cells. (But there is a huge caveat on this “pro”.)
- It requires documentation of informed consent by donors.
- It’s entirely too long. This is a Constitutional Amendment, not a statutory initiative. The state constitution should set general parameters for legislation, it should concern itself with setting the limits of government power. The initiative runs to 2,155 words. By comparison the entire US Constitution including the signatures and Amendments runs to 7,631.
- It’s not necessary. There is no legislation on the books prohibiting stem cell research in Missouri and there is little impetus toward such legislation.
- By setting the limit on how late in development stem cells can be harvested in the Constitution, it eliminates flexibility in changing this by statute if changes become necessary.
- Though it prohibits fertilizing eggs “solely for the purpose of stem cell research”, it specifically allows producing stem cells “solely for the purpose of stem cell research” by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning).
- The initiative which is presented as progressive support of scientific research succumbs to Luddite horror film fantasies with its prohibition on reproductive cloning or attempting the reproductive cloning of human beings.
- It writes the free market out of the acquisition of eggs and embryos, opening the way to either a political market governed by pull, a black market with its artificially inflated prices or both. Since the prohibition on sale is only covered by the civil enforcement mechanism, the prospect of a black market seems even more likely.
- It creates a new state bureaucracy to certify any stem cell researchers in the state; a restriction which does not currently exist
- The requirement for informed consent, one of the best parts of the proposal, is only covered by the civil enforcement mechanism.
- The civil enforcement mechanism may only be enforced by the Attorney General, currently the notoriously anti-life politician Jay Nixon, and provides civil penalties for certain violations of $50,000 per violation which would accrue to the state government.
- Creates a registration and reporting requirement for research institutions, burdening them with government red tape they don’t currently face.
- The definitions are purposely misleading in an attempt to gain the Luddite vote. The definitions require implantation in a uterus to constitute cloning, while specifically defining the use of embryos produced through somatic cell nuclear transfer (commonly called….”cloning”) as acceptable for production of stem cells.
Some sections of this proposal might be desirable as statute law. The total package is some of the worst legislative sausage ever made. The language is so misleading that it is either purposefully misleading or written by idiots. Whether it’s the work of liars or the work of idiots, it shouldn’t be enshrined in the state Constitution.
2006 Ballot Measure
Constitutional Amendment 2
Stem Cell Initiative
Submitted October 11, 2005
NOTICE: You are advised that the proposed constitutional amendment may change, repeal, or modify by implication or may be construed by some persons to change, repeal or modify by implication, the following provisions of the Constitution of Missouri â€“ Sections 2, 10, 14, and 32 of Article I; Section 1 of Article II; Sections 1, 21, 22, 23, 28, 36, 39, 40, 41, and 42 of Article III; Sections 1, 14, 36(a), 37, 37(a), 39, and 52 of Article IV; Sections 5, 14, 17, 18, and 23, and subsection 17 of Section 27 of Article V; Sections 18(b), 18(c), 18(d), 18(k), 18(m), 19(a), 20, 31, 32(a), and 32(b) of Article VI; Section 9(a) of Article IX; Sections 1, 6, 11(a), 11(d), and 11(f) of Article X; and Section 3 or Article XI.
THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT
Be it resolved by the people of the state of Missouri that the Constitution be amended:
One new section is adopted by adding one new section to be known as section 38(d) of Article III to read as follows:
Section 38(d). 1. This section shall be known as the â€œ Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.â€
- 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.
(6) Human embryonic stem cell research may be conducted only by persons that, within 180 days of the effective date of this section or otherwise prior to commencement of such research, whichever is later, have
(a) provided oversight responsibility and approval authority for such research to an embryonic stem cell research oversight committee whose membership includes representatives of the public and medical and scientific experts;
(b) adopted ethical standards for such research that comply with the requirements of this section; and
(c) obtained a determination from an Institutional Review Board that the research complies with all applicable federal statutes and regulations that the Institutional Review Board is responsible for administering.
(7) All stem cell research and all stem cell therapies and cures must be conducted and provided in accordance with state and local laws of general applicability, including but not limited to laws concerning scientific and medical practices and patient safety and privacy, to the extent that any such laws do not (i) prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by the provisions of this section other than this subdivision (7) to be conducted or provided, or (ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies and cures.
- Any person who knowingly and willfully violates in this state subdivision (1) of subsection 2 of this section commits a crime and shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of up to fifteen years or by the imposition of a fine of up to two hundred fifty thousand dollars, or by both. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates in this state subdivisions (2) or (3) of subsection 2 of this section commits a crime and shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of up to ten years or by the imposition of a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars, or by both. A civil action may be brought against any person who knowingly and willfully violates in this state any of subdivisions (1) through (6) of subsection 2 of this section, and the state in such action shall be entitled to a judgment recovering a civil penalty of up to fifty thousand dollars per violation, requiring disgorgement of any financial profit derived from such violation, and/or enjoining any further such violation. The attorney general shall have the exclusive right to bring a civil action for such violation. Venue for such action shall be the county in which the alleged violation occurred.
Each institution, hospital, other entity, or other person conducting human embryonic stem cell research in the state shall (i) prepare an annual report stating the nature of the human embryonic stem cells used in, and the purpose of, the research conducted during the prior calendar year, and certifying compliance with subdivision (6) of subsection 2 of this section; and (ii) no later than June 30 of the subsequent year, make such report available to the public and inform the Secretary of State how the public may obtain copies of or otherwise gain access to the report. The report shall not contain private or confidential medical, scientific, or other information. Individuals conducting research at an institution, hospital, or other entity that prepares and makes available a report pursuant to this subsection 4 concerning such research are not required to prepare and make available a separate report concerning that same research. A civil action may be brought against any institution, hospital, other entity, or other person that fails to prepare or make available the report or inform the Secretary of State how the public may obtain copies of or otherwise gain access to the report, and the state in such action shall be entitled as its sole remedy to an affirmative injunction requiring such institution, hospital, other entity, or other person to prepare and make available the report or inform the Secretary of State how the public may obtain or otherwise gain access to the report. The attorney general shall have the exclusive right to bring a civil action for such violation.
To ensure that no governmental body or official arbitrarily restricts funds designated for purposes other than stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures as a means of inhibiting lawful stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures, no state or local governmental body or official shall eliminate, reduce, deny, or withhold any public funds provided or eligible to be provided to a person that (i) lawfully conducts stem cell research or provides stem cell therapies and cures, allows for such research or therapies and cures to be conducted or provided on its premises, or is otherwise associated with such research or therapies and cures, but (ii) receives or is eligible to receive such public funds for purposes other than such stem cell-related activities, on account of, or otherwise for the purpose of creating disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with, or preventing, restricting, obstructing, or discouraging, such stem cell-related activities.
As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) â€œBlastocystâ€ 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) â€œClone or attempt to clone a human beingâ€ 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) â€œDonatedâ€ means donated for use in connection either with scientific or medical research or with medical treatment.
(4) â€œFertilizationâ€ means the process whereby an egg of a human female and the sperm of a human male form a zygote (i.e., fertilized egg).
(5) â€œHuman embryonic stem cell research,â€ also referred to as â€œearly stem cell research,â€ 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.
(6) â€œIn vitro fertilizationâ€ means fertilization of an egg with a sperm outside the body.
(7) â€œInstitutional Review Boardâ€ means a specially constituted review board established and operating in accordance with federal law as set forth in 42 U.S.C. 289, 45 C.F.R. Part 46, and any other applicable federal statutes and regulations, as amended from time to time.
(8) â€œPermitted under federal lawâ€ means, as it relates to stem cell research and stem cell therapies and cures, any such research, therapies, and cures that are not prohibited under federal law from being conducted or provided, regardless of whether federal funds are made available for such activities.
(9) â€œPersonâ€ means any natural person, corporation, association, partnership, public or private institution, or other legal entity.
(10) â€œPrivate or confidential medical, scientific, or other informationâ€ means any private or confidential patient, medical, or personnel records or matters, intellectual property or work product, whether patentable or not and including but not limited to any scientific or technological innovations in which an entity or person involved in the research has a proprietary interest, prepublication scientific working papers, research, or data, and any other matter excepted from disclosure under Chapter 610, RSMo, as amended from time to time.
(11) â€œSolely for the purpose of stem cell researchâ€ means producing human blastocysts using in vitro fertilization exclusively for stem cell research, but does not include producing any number of human blastocysts for the purpose of treating human infertility.
(12) â€œSpermâ€ means mature spermatozoa or precursor cells such as spermatids and spermatocytes.
(13) â€œStem cellâ€ 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).
(14) â€œStem cell clinical trialsâ€ means federally regulated clinical trials involving stem cells and human subjects designed to develop, or assess or test the efficacy or safety of, medical treatments.
(15) â€œStem cell researchâ€ means any scientific or medical research involving stem cells. For purposes of this section, stem cell research does not include stem cell clinical trials.
(16) â€œStem cell therapies and curesâ€ means any medical treatment that involves or otherwise derives from the use of stem cells, and that is used to treat or cure any disease or injury. For purposes of this section, stem cell therapies and cures does include stem cell clinical trials.
(17) â€œValuable considerationâ€ 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.
The provisions of this section and of all state and local laws, regulations, rules, charters, ordinances, and other governmental actions shall be construed in favor of the conduct of stem cell research and the provision of stem cell therapies and cures. No state or local law, regulation, rule, charter, ordinance, or other governmental action shall (i) prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures that are permitted by this section to be conducted or provided, or (ii) create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research or therapies and cures.
The provisions of this section are self-executing. All of the provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or unconstitutionally enacted, the remaining provisions of this section shall be and remain valid.