Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Morality Monday (Tuesday)

This is a long post, but everything after this sentence is the proposed stem cell amendment in Missouri; vote for or against in the comments.

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 “ Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.”

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “Blastocyst” 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) “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.

(3) “Donated” means donated for use in connection either with scientific or medical research or with medical treatment.

(4) “Fertilization” 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) “Human embryonic stem cell research,” also referred to as “early stem cell research,” 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) “In vitro fertilization” means fertilization of an egg with a sperm outside the body.

(7) “Institutional Review Board” 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) “Permitted under federal law” 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) “Person” means any natural person, corporation, association, partnership, public or private institution, or other legal entity.

(10) “Private or confidential medical, scientific, or other information” 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) “Solely for the purpose of stem cell research” 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) “Sperm” means mature spermatozoa or precursor cells such as spermatids and spermatocytes.

(13) “Stem cell” 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) “Stem cell clinical trials” 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) “Stem cell research” 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) “Stem cell therapies and cures” 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) “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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

16 Comments:

Blogger Matt said...

Here's my quick summary of the statute. It has eight parts:

Part One: Title
Part Two: Stem cell research and therapies are legal in Missouri to the extent they're legal under federal law and with some specific restrictions, including a cloning ban.
Part Three: Penalties for illegal research/therapies
Part Four: Stem cell researches must provide annual reports on their activities
Part Five: No funding extortion: Government bodies can't withhold funds for non-stem cell research from stem cell researchers.
Part Six: Definitions
Part Seven: Supremacy of amendment over state and local law
Part Eight: provisions of the section are self-executing and severable.

Part one is the title “Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.”

Part two says that stem cell research and treatments are permissible in Missouri to the same extent that they're allowed under federal law, subject to certain limitations. (“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”)

Several limitations are then set out in subsections:

1. There's a ban on cloning. (“No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being. ”) See the Part Six discussion below.
2. You can't create blastocysts solely for research purposes.
3. Research can only be carried out on the blastocyst for the first 2 weeks of the its existence. Time, for purposes of this measure, stops when the thing's frozen.
4. You can't sell blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or therapies. (“No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures. ”) see the Part Six discussion below.
5. Written, voluntary, informed consent is required for egg or blastocyst donation.
6. There has to be ethical oversight of the research.
7. The research and therapies must be otherwise legal, except that they needn't follow laws designed to obstruct stem cell research and therapies.

Part three sets out penalties for violation of part one. Cloning (subsection one above) gets you 15 years and/or a quarter million dollar fine. Violations of subsection two or three - 10 years and/or $100,000 fine. The attorney general can bring a civil action against knowing and willing violators of subsections one through six. He can get damages, capped at $50,000, plus disgorgement of profits and an injunction.

Part four. Those institutions and individuals performing the research must prepare an annual report about their activies and must make the report legal. Failure to do so can result in a civil action brought by the atty general.

Part five. This is the “no extortion” part. No state or local govt body or official shall keep funds from researchers for the purpose of preventing researchers from performing stem cell research or therapies.

Part six has the definitions. Two of the arguments that I've heard against amendment two have been that it permits human cloning and that it lets poor women sell their embryos inappropriately. I'll highlight two definitions – cloning and consideration.

Cloning happens only where 1-there's an attempted or actual implantation in a uterus (it's uter-us, Marge, not uter-you) of 2-anything other than an egg fertilized by sperm for the purpose of reproduction. #1 here means that research/therapies aren't forbidden cloning, #2 means that in vitro fertilization isn't cloning.

There's also a definition of “valuable consideration” which allows for reimbursement of costs of donation and storage of eggs, sperm, and blastocysts and for a donor's lost wages. Additionally, sperm banks and fertilization clinics can pay donors for sperm and eggs to the extent permissible under federal law.

Part seven says that the amendment's supreme and local and state lawmakers can prevent or restrict the research.

Part eight says that the provisions of the section are self-executing and severable.

I have one question: what's the difference between a blastocyst and an embryo?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

And I vote yes for the amendment.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Arfanser said...

A blastocyst has not been implanted into a uterus.

There are sections of the amendment that I do not particularly like, ie the enforcement provisions and I think the oversight is a little on the weak side.

Here is an interesting question however. While the media want us to believe that voting no is voting to prevent stem cell research, this is not actually true. A vote no maintains the status quo and simply means that the state legislature can ban stem cell research in the future if it so chooses. Right now in the state of Missouri there is stem cell research going on. So for me the question is not pro or anti stem cell research, but whether or not I want to take this question out of the hands of the legislature. Here is the interesting question. If the federal government were to pass a law allowing human cloning for tissue harvest (a long shot I know) what happens to this amendment? It specifically legalizes everything that is allowed by federal law and specifically bans human cloning.

So my vote for this amendment is no, but purely on federalism grounds. I want the state legislature to make the call on this. I think it is a fair amendment substantively, but I dont want to turn over to the federal government determination of what stem cell research is legal in the state where I live.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Fishfrog said...

I vote yes. Seems like a good amendment. As far as Arf's federalism concerns, seems like the language "subject to the following limitations..." in section 2 assures that even if federal law were to allow human cloning, the Amendment would not (No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being).

As far as letting the legislature decide, it seems like direct democracy is preferable to legislation by elected officials who are dependent on special interest groups for campaign contributions.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

You know, I like the federalism question. In litigation that arises under this amendment (were it to pass), would any state court decision be reviewable by a federal court? Since it's coextensive with federal law, federal law could be used to interpret the state constitution. It's weird, and I don't really know why the amendment is written that way.

As for its amendment-y status, making it an amendment makes it more difficult to repeal, so it doesn't become a battle of the legislature - one year they're prolife, one year they're prochoice. It lets there be investment in the research because there's more certainty that you'll be able to continue researching.

10:27 AM  
Blogger scarlet panda said...

I vote yes.

On the procedural issues:
-I don't think arf's federalism grounds are valid, for the reasons fishfrog gave--the restrictions Missouri wants in place will remain in place, regardless of more permissive federal laws.

-That said, I DO generally oppose direct democracy in favor of thoughtful determination by the legislature, so I might oppose it that ground. But I think I understand this issue better than most MO legislators do, and the legislature seems to be about to ban this, so I feel like I don't have much choice but to vote yes.

On the substance:
-Despite my own religion's obsession with protecting "life" at any stage, I'm more concerned with avoiding human suffering. I think it is horribly immoral to preference the life of a 2 mm-wide hollow ball of cells over the quality of life of a human being suffering from Alzheimer's or diabetes.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Arfanser said...

To answer panda, you say that the legislature is about to ban it. But they havent yet. I think that is my problem. A vote no is a vote for the status quo. Noone has contested that stem cell research is occurring right now in missouri. If the legislature were to do something stupid like ban all stem cell research, then I would be in favor of an amendment like this. I really only like this kind of thing to correct something the legislature has already done.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Squishy Burrito said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Squishy Burrito said...

In case you were wondering I was the author of deleted post. I wrote a long comment and then it didn't get posted and I wasn't going to write it again if blogger was going to eat it up so I made a test run.

The comment went something like this:

I can't vote so instead I'll use this space to spout my own opinions on matters somewhat, but not really, related to the actual morality of Amendment 2.

1. I hate smear campaigns. I can't stand all the television ads telling me that so and so eats young children for dinner so you shouldn't vote for him/her. Or that so and so didn't open the door at the grocery store for somebody so you should shouldn't vote him/her. I want to hear about real issues.

2. I'm very frustrated with the pro Amendment 2 tv ads. Like I said I can't vote so I've decided to not take a public opinion on the topic (in reality I just have too much else to think about right now, like when was the last time I changed Sven's diaper) But, I'm still bothered by the tug at your heartstrings ads that tell me that stem cell research is going to cure everything known, and not known, to man. Its just not true. I honestly think that more people would vote for the amendment if it was properly explained in the ads instead of having a firefighter tell me that stem cells will help burn victims. As a religious person I don't think I have a problem with the amendment (again I haven't taken the real time and thought needed to make a decision) and I think that many people if told basics about it wouldn't have a problem either.

3. I was very frustrated with Michael J. Fox's tv ad support for Claire McSomethingIcan'tspell. Anything I say after that will probably sound horribly rude and anti Michael J. Fox, which I am not and do not want to be rude so I won't try to explain unless asked but the whole ad made no sense at all.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Fishfrog said...

SB: Have you seen the commercial with the girl sitting on her bed crying, saying that when she donated her eggs it hurt a lot, and that if Amendment 2 passes, that more people will have the option to voluntarily donate their eggs? Or the billboard on I-170 that says "Vote no on Cloning" or something to that effect?

I am not going to hide the fact that I am in support of Amendment 2. In fact, earlier in the comments, I said just that. But it seems a little odd to me that the only adverts that you find offensive are the ones in favor of the amendment. Had the World Series aired today, we would have seen (according to the post-dispatch) an advertisement in which Suppan, pitcher for the Cards, expresses his position against the amendment. Personally, I find the idea of a sports figure giving advice on a scientific issue a bit odd. And irrelevant.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Squishy Burrito said...

fishfrog - I agree. My tv time is quite limited right now as is my ability to escape my house and see billboards so all I have seen are pro ads. My opinions on the ads would stretch for both sides definately.

Talk about the issue don't win me over with celebs and heartstrings.

7:45 AM  
Blogger warm fuzzy said...

I vote yes. You all have already brought up great points, so I think it is redundant for me to post much more than that.
I will say, in defense of M.J.F. - he is a celeb on this issue, but unlike other celebs that might get behind an issue for PR reasons, he is a person with advancing parkinson's and is using all his available resources to fight for his life. His celebraty puts him in a better position many others who could potentially benefit from this research, and I would say that he has a duty to use those tools he has been blessed with to advocatge for those who can't.

I really hate the NO CLONING billboards. Since I ff through commericals, I haven't seen any of the pro T.V. ads so I can't speak abou them. I would agree that tugging at heartstrings isn't the way to go, but I do find that less offensive than the use of the word "cloning" as a scare tactic. That could be just because I am pro-stem cell research, but I don't think so. Again, I haven't seen the pro-ads, so I can't say for sure.

9:30 AM  
Blogger warm fuzzy said...

sorry for all the typos.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Squishy Burrito said...

My issue with MJF was not him using his celebritiness but the feel of the ad. (also to note -this ad was not for amendment 2 but for a certain candidate)

Like I said earlier its hard to describe my thoughts and feelings on the ad because I feel I can't adequately write them out and anything I would say would sound so negative and rude which would not be my intention. I do agree that MJF is somebody who should be campaigning and using his status it was just this specific ad that bugged me.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Arfanser said...

I think if we get about 50 more comments here, the comments will actually be almost as long as the original post.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Squishy Burrito said...

Just thought I would announce that I saw a great pro amend. 2 ad last night on tv. only facts. important facts. no heartstrings being tugged. and no celebs. just some people pertinant to the field talking about it.

7:50 AM  

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