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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mo. Appeals Court Rules On Challenge To Ballot Summary Of Stem Cell Research Ban

The Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that part of a ballot summary for an initiative to limit stem cell research prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) is "unfair and insufficient," the AP/Columbia Missourian reports. According to the AP/Missourian, the court's ruling is "largely symbolic" because supporters of the measure did not plan to continue gathering signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot. The group Cures Without Cloning would have needed to gather about 150,000 signatures by Sunday. The group said it now will try to place the initiative on the 2010 ballot (Marshall, AP/Columbia Missourian, 5/2).

The proposal would have continued an existing prohibition on human cloning but would have banned a particular kind of embryonic stem cell research -- called somatic cell nuclear transfer -- that is allowable under a constitutional amendment narrowly approved by Missouri voters in November 2006. Carnahan's original summary said the proposal would "repeal the ban on human cloning or attempted human cloning to criminalize and impose civil penalties for some existing research, therapies and cures." Cole County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce in February effectively rewrote the language of the initiative's summary and largely adopted the language suggested by Cures Without Cloning (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 2/22).

The appellate court's opinion, written by Judge Lisa White Hardwick, agreed with Joyce that Carnahan's use of the word "repeal" was insufficient and unfair. However, the appellate court did not agree that Joyce should have rewritten the entire summary.

Both supporters and opponents of the ballot proposal lauded the ruling, the AP/Missourian reports. Carnahan's office in a statement said that the ruling "validates our summary statement as fair and accurate, while only replacing one word." Cures Without Cloning officials said they are pleased that part of Carnahan's statement was ruled insufficient and unfair but added that they plan to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court because the appeals court did not rule that Carnahan violated the group's constitutional rights (AP/Columbia Missourian, 5/2).

Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.nationalpartnership.org. You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.

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