By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Secretary of State's Office has approved for circulation two ballot initiatives backed by opponents of abortion and of a type of stem cell research some consider to be human cloning.
The first ballot question would bar state tax dollars from being used to fund abortions or to fund the procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is considered by initiative backers to be human cloning.
Ed Martin is President of the sponsoring group, Missouri Roundtable for Life.
"We're not saying people cannot do embryonic stem cell research with their own money, on their own property...all that is completely legal; what we're saying is tax dollars cannot be used for this," Martin said.
Martin is also a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress.
A separate group is sponsoring the second initiative, which would legally define the word "person" as being from the beginning of biological development, in effect granting constitutional rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses.
Jim Goodwin is with the group Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which supports stem cell research.
"It would literally impact thousands of Missouri laws that use the word 'person,' and it's trying to jeopardize our right to access future stem cell therapies...those are patient protections that Missouri voters approved in 2006," Goodwin said.
Goodwin also says the ballot question barring state tax dollar use would harm education and research at Missouri's universities, and could hinder the state's pursuit of high-tech jobs.