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Anti-cloning legislation is shelved in the senate

April 06, 2005
By: Elizabeth Baird
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - After a day-long debate, the effort to pass anti-cloning legislation was forced to rest Wednesday when faced with dissent within the Republican party.

Sen. John Dolan, R-St. Louis County, a co-sponsor of the bill and long an opponent of abortion rights said the bill coming to a vote would split the Republican party and the anti-abortion movement, and would end with a veto from the Governor.

"I'm still pro-life, but I don't like where this is going politically. The votes aren't there, the Governor isn't there," Dolan said, "There is no solid majority."

Some Republican remarks were indicative of this split and said there was not enough information or party support to pass the legislation.

The bill would not only halt human cloning, but Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer research in humans, which some scientists say has potential to cure many degenerative diseases. The debate on the topic has been focused on if these cells are human life.

Bill sponsor Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, said that he worked for three years to get the legislation on the floor, and urged his colleagues to think about cloning ethically.

"If you have any question in your mind about whether this is in fact a human embryo, if there is any doubt in your mind, shouldn't we resolve it in favor of life," Bartle said.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, who voted against the bill in committee said he was greatful for the effort Bartle had put into his legislation, but the bill did not address the real issue.

"I don't want to extinguish hope," Graham said, "If we're going to talk about life, we should be talking about new spinal columns, not some cells in a petri dish. We need to be consistent on these issues."

Dolan also contested the language of the bill and said the wording makes in-vitro fertilization a crime.

"I'm not about to go to the house going to go the house and talk to a Republican state rep. and tell him his wife's a murdered because they had their baby by in-vitro," said Dolan.

As the debate went into the evening, Senate majority leader, Sen. Charles Shields, R-St. Joseph, asked Sen. Bartle to put the bill aside until a compromise was reached.

Bartle said he would remain determined, despite the opposition from his constituents.

"It's pretty obvious to me that is there is more than enough political will to kill this bill," said Bartle, "I'm frustrated were not willing to come to a vote because of political consequences."