Politics & Policy

Missouri, Don’t Get Egg in Your Face

Black leaders make a plea to Missouri voters.

“I’m scared for our young women, especially lower-income minority women who might be deceived by money.”

So says Yvonne Bailey, a black pastor from St. Ann, Missouri, in a new ad produced by Missourians Against Cloning. In it the mom implores, “Protect our daughters. Vote no on Amendment 2.” (YouTubed here.)

#ad#Bailey continues, “The people behind Amendment 2 need thousands of human eggs for their experiments. Amendment 2 constitutionally protects human egg harvesting…a painful, risky, and sometimes deadly procedure.”

Bailey, who with her husband, Pastor Samuel Bailey, ministers to congregants of Restoration Assembly of God, tells National Review Online: “Our parishioners have been told about the deception in the fine print of Amendment 2.” She continues, “Our question [is]: Where will the eggs come from? And the answer is no doubt, from young vulnerable women with the majority of them being African American women. History will repeat itself using the poor disenfranchised among us for experimental reasons.”

The TV ad featuring Mrs. Bailey — which will begin running tonight throughout Missouri and is scheduled also to air during Oprah in St. Louis on Friday afternoon — comes on the heels of press conference and “Open Letter of Warning from State and National African American Leaders on Amendment 2.” In the letter, signers warn:

Amendment 2 says that it bans the buying and selling of eggs for human cloning. In reality, Amendment 2 creates a market for millions of eggs for cloning and medical experimentation. In fact, Amendment 2 creates a safe haven for human egg traffickers in the State of Missouri.

The fact is there are not enough human embryos in fertility clinics to do the massive experimentations envisioned by big biotech firms. Nationally, it is estimated there are only 400,000 human embryos stored in IVF clinics, and most of those are beyond the reach of medical and scientific experimentation. Scientists and bioethicists warn us that millions of eggs will be needed to do the kind of human experimentation that big biotech firms want to do.

The biotech special interests behind Amendment 2 understand this, which is why they have hidden human cloning and egg trafficking in the fine print of Amendment 2.

The theme from Amendment 2 opponents this week echoes one recently heard in an anti-Amendment 2 commercial that ran during the World Series (which began with Jim Caviezel of The Passion of the Christ ominously speaking in Aramaic, “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss”); in it, actress Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) said:

Amendment 2 actually makes it a constitutional right for fertility clinics to pay women for eggs. Low-income women will be seduced by big checks and extracting donor eggs is an extremely complicated, dangerous, and painful procedure.

When the Internet — and The Today Show even — buzzed with the Heaton & co. message, for many it was probably the first time they had heard anything about the concern about “eggsploitation” when it comes to human cloning (for many, too, it was probably the first time they realized Missourians are faced with a cloning initiative next week). That’s largely because it’s not an issue major mainstream feminist groups have cared to be leaders on — an issue that should be a natural for them.

But a group called “Hands Off Our Ovaries” exists to fill that breach. Along with the occasional liberal feminist like Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies, Our Selves, the group works the women angle in the cloning debate. In a letter they sent out to college students — addressed, actually, to sororities — in Missouri, Hands Off Our Ovaries works to educate young women about the dangers particular to women implicit in Amendment 2. “[Y]ou may not realize that [Amendment 2] is … dangerous to young women like you.”

The letter continues:

Many other kinds of stem cell research can be conducted without the need to use women’s eggs. As noted stem cell scientist, Evan Snyder recently admitted,* SCNT “plays only a minor role in the wider discipline of stem-cell biology.” With other promising paths to cures that are not harmful to young women, why are biotech corporations, pharmaceutical companies, and science entrepreneurs so eager to experiment with human eggs? The answer is that stem cell lines from clonal embryos are patentable. Let’s not allow ourselves to be manipulated by misleading claims for cures made by those seeking to use public funds for profit and personal gain.

Cathy Ruse, spokeswoman for Missourians Against Human Cloning, reiterates to NRO:

Every cloned human embryo requires a human egg, and there’s only one source for those eggs — the bodies of young women. Cloning researchers speak of needing millions of embryos, and that will require many thousands of women to put their health at risk. When this exploitation of women is raised, proponents of Amendment 2 have no answer. They have to concede that human eggs are the raw material for this research, and they have to concede their source.

Of the new commercial, Ruse says,

Pastor Yvonne Bailey is a powerful voice of opposition to Amendment 2 because as an African-American leader she knows the threat is aimed right at the young women in her community. It is the vulnerable, disadvantaged women who will feel the pressure most from biotech firms who offer big money for their eggs.

With recent polls showing voters increasingly undecided about Amendment 2, the cloning initiative’s opponents hope Pastor Bailey’s ad could provide a final divine push against it.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

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