WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Stem Cell Action Coalition calls for voters in Mississippi to vote “no” on Initiative 26, the so-called Mississippi “personhood amendment”. Mississippi voters will face this initiative on November 8.
Initiative 26 proposes to amend the constitution of Mississippi so that, as used in its “Bill of Rights” section, the “term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” A bumper sticker-like message from proponents of Initiative 26 reads: “Stop Abortions and Cloning.”
If this initiative passes, the Mississippi constitution would interfere with reproductive and related rights of women and couples along several fronts. These interferences include making it exceedingly difficult for couples in Mississippi to seek in vitro fertilization as a means of creating families and donating for research IVF-created embryos not needed for implantation or not sufficiently healthy for implantation. Moreover, Initiative 26 would prevent the pursuit of medical research in Mississippi that utilizes human embryonic stem cells.
Regarding the impact of Initiative 26 on medical research, human embryonic stem cell research has been described by scientists as the “gold standard” for those seeking to develop cures based on stem cell technology for many diseases and maladies such as Parkinson’s, ALS, diabetes, MS, macular degeneration and other causes of blindness, spinal cord injuries, and a host of other medical conditions for which there is no known cure.
Bernard Siegel, J.D., spokesperson of the Coalition and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute said, “There is no reason why Mississippi should become an outpost for extremism by impeding potentially lifesaving scientific research. Embryonic stem cell research holds the promise of discovering the root causes of disease, serves as a tool for drug discovery, and will surely lead to regenerative medicines and cell therapies for repairing or replacing damaged tissues and organs.”
“Microscopic cells in a lab dish, that by a couples’ decision, will never be implanted in a womb, should not be defined as ’people’,” Siegel continued. “If Mississippi aspires to become a center for biomedical research and biotechnology, then Initiative 26 surely sends the wrong message to the world.”
Initiative 26 represents a concerted move by opponents of all forms of early termination of pregnancy and medical research involving human embryos to seek to amend state constitutions to define “person” as the being that comes into existence at conception. In addition to Mississippi, similar efforts to add “personhood” amendments to state constitutions are reported to be under way in Florida, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states.
The Stem Cell Action Coalition has 75 nonprofit affiliated organizations including patient groups, medical philanthropies, scientific and medical societies and public interest organizations all dedicated to advancing scientifically meritorious and ethically responsible research.
The Stem Cell Action Coalition serves as an engine to unite the pro-cures community. It recognizes that human embryonic stem cell research must be a national public health priority at all branches and levels of government, both federal and state, not only as a matter of the medical health of the individuals who comprise the United States, but also as a matter of national financial health. The Coalition sponsors a web site www.stemcellaction.org and is actively engaged in social media and can be followed at Twitter @StemCellAction and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stemcellaction.