Amendment to limit stem-cell research draws pair of lawsuits

Saturday, October 20, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- An initiative to outlaw a particular stem-cell research method drew dueling lawsuits Friday from supporters and opponents who both contend the ballot summary drafted by state officials is unfair.

The newly proposed constitutional amendment seeks to ban an embryonic cloning technique that was protected under a constitutional amendment narrowly approved last year by Missouri voters.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan cleared initiative sponsors to begin gathering petition signatures last week when she approved a ballot summary for the measure.

But the sponsoring group, Cures Without Cloning, contends Carnahan's summary is inaccurate and could bias voters against the measure. Spokesman Curt Mercadante confirmed Friday that a lawsuit had been filed, but he did not immediately release a copy of it.

Meanwhile, supporters of last year's ballot measure also filed suit Friday in Cole County Circuit Court. Their chief claim is that the ballot's financial summary prepared by State Auditor Susan Montee understates the potential cost to taxpayers if voters pass the measure.

That summary says the proposal "could have a significant negative fiscal impact on state and local governmental entities due to its prohibition of certain research activities." But it adds the total costs are unknown.

The lawsuit contends the summary should say there would be a cost at least $200 million to state government and at least $25 million to local governments.

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