Missouri's Misleading Marketing: Stem Cell Research
My regular readers (given my infrequent postings, I'm thankful I still have some faithful) know that my trade is marketing. As such I know deceptive marketing when I see it. Missouri's Amendment Two wins Quixote's deceptive marketing campaign of the year. Let's look at what tomorrow's Missouri voters will see.
Constitutional Amendment 2 - Stem Cell Research

A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to allow and set limitations on stem cell research, therapies, and cures which will:

ensure Missouri patients have access to any therapies and cures, and allow Missouri researchers to conduct any research, permitted under federal law;

ban human cloning or attempted cloning;

require expert medical and public oversight and annual reports on the nature and purpose of stem cell research;

impose criminal and civil penalties for any violations; and

prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures.

A "no" vote would not ensure that stem cell research permitted under federal law is allowed to be conducted in Missouri and that Missouri patients have access to stem cell therapies and cures permitted under federal law.

This measure will have no impact on taxes.

So this is a bill about stem cell research right? Voting against this bill means sick people in Missouri will not have access to future cures from any type of stem cell research, right? Voting against this amendment would prohibit stem cell research in Missouri, right?

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

This amendment is so misleading it is difficult to know where to start, but I'll try. First of all, there are two types of stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research (where the stem cells are obtained from an embryo and destroy the embryo in the process) and adult stem cell research (stem cells obtained from all sources other than embryos, such as from umbilical cords). This amendment is strictly about using public money to pursue embryonic stem cell research.

Adult stem cell research has been very promising and lots of private and federal money is pursuing this research because they expect this research to pay off. Despite the ads that exploit sick people to beg for a cure, embryonic stem cell research has yet to cure a disease while adult stem cells are already used in various therapies around the world and show great promise for truly revolutionizing medicine. After doing their homework, most private venture capitalists think embryonic stem cell research will not pay off, so they don't invest in it. So where does that lead people who want to do research on embryonic stem cells? They can either be satisfied with the few dollars going their way or they can convince the taxpayer to pay for their research.

If you read the ballot description above, you will not see the word embryonic anywhere in the description. However, if you read the actual amendment, you will see that the word embryonic appears at least seven times.

Let's look at the five claims made in the ballot box.

ensure Missouri patients have access to any therapies and cures, and allow Missouri researchers to conduct any research, permitted under federal law;
Missouri patients currently have access to all therapies and cures approved by the FDA. This bill will not eliminate the need for FDA approval, so it does not give Missouri patients any rights they do not currently have. This part of the bill provides no useful information, it simply misleads people into thinking the bill gives them rights they do not already have.

But wait, what about the second part of this phrase, allowing researchers to work in Missouri?

It may surprise many people in Missouri, but both adult and embryonic stem cell research already takes place in Missouri in both private and public labs. The labs that invested heavily in embryonic stem cell research need state funding to grow since most private and federal funds are chasing adult stem cell research. So, again, this claim misleads people. In fairness to the amendment, there is one part of this bill that would provide a service, although the writers are not honest about their intentions. Some legislators in Jefferson City (Missouri's capitol) have proposed legislation to prevent embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. It never passed, but this amendment would head off any future attempts of this nature.

There are people on both sides of the embryonic stem cell debate (using falling along the same lines as the abortion debate), but voters should be told the specifics upon what they are voting. Missouri has a very large (majority) pro-life population and the supporters of this bill know if they honestly portrayed the impact of this bill, they would lose. Thus they use misleading information to confuse the issue and make people think this is about all stem cell research.

You may wish to stop reading here. As I will show, the rest of the ballot measure is just as misleading. However, the main point is that this bill is about ensuring embryonic stem cell research remains legal in Missouri and receives state funding. I think issues of this importance should be left up to the voters and Missouri should be applauded for discussing the issue. However, the writers of this amendment have no faith in the popularity of their cause and are deliberately misleading the public in an attempt to snooker voters into voting for a cause in which they would oppose if it were presented honestly. For that, Missouri's Amendment Two wins the most deceptive marketing award for 2006.

OK, let's look at the rest of the amendment.

ban human cloning or attempted cloning;
Taking a page from Bill Clinton's meaning of the word is, this depends upon the meaning of the word cloning. The writers of the bill redefine cloning to mean 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. This is a novel meaning of the word clone. This specifically and purposely legalizes creating copies of human beings for any purpose other than birth. If they can figure out how to do it, growing babies in a test tube for harvesting cells (or even little organs) will be perfectly legal and Missouri legislatures will be forbidden to restrict this. Again, the writers' intent is clearly to deceive the voters.
require expert medical and public oversight and annual reports on the nature and purpose of stem cell research;
This sounds impressive until you realize that the oversight committee must include members of the very people it is overseeing.
impose criminal and civil penalties for any violations; and
This also sounds impressive until you realize they have legalized every single thing an ethical person would want to outlaw. What they have legalized does not appear on the ballot information, just the detailed amendment.
prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures.
Again, after legalizing unethical behavior (at least in the minds of most Missourians once they understand the real issues), the amendment forbids legislators from stopping this hidden agenda.

The amendment itself, if you manage to read it, is also full of misleading information. Near the top of the amendment it states:

(4) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.
Sounds good, right? At least this will prevent researchers from paying our daughters for their eggs and risking infertility and other problems. Or will it? What do they mean by for valuable consideration? That sounds odd. Let's see if they have any definitions. Oh yes, way at the bottom of the amendment.
(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.
So donors may be paid "considerations" as well as reimbursed for reasonable costs and their time. If that is not being paid for selling an egg, what would you call it!!!! The writers of this bill clearly think most Missourians are a bunch of ignorant hicks who cannot understand that this amendment has been written in the most deceitful method the writers could contrive.

A more accurate amendment title would be Embryonic Stem Cell and Test Tube Cloning Amendment Whatever your thoughts on embryonic research and human test tube cloning, Missourians deserve an honest debate on the issue. I urge all Missourians to vote no on Amendment Two and strive for an honest debate in the future. Assuming Amendment Two fails, embryonic and stem cell research will still be legal in Missouri, but we will not have to amend the constitution once everyone has had a chance to understand the issues under discussion.


A succint outline of all that an informed voter needs to know about A 2. Thanks for providing it.

The proponents of A 2 rely on preconceived ideas of pro-choice voters, hoping that they will not look closely at the wording of the initiative. Let's hope they are wrong.

Thanks too for your optimism about Missouri voters in you comment about my post 'The University in the Marketplace: Not-for-Profit Goes For-Profit' - http://moroundtable.com/2006/11/04/the-university-in-the-marketplace-not-for-profit-goes-for-profit/
- it helps on a gray gloomy apprehension filled voting day!


Bob Dunn

Posted by: Robert Dunn | 11/07/2006 - 10:44 AM
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