Graham questions Ditmore’s ‘pro-life’ rating

Friday, October 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:42 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]

Chuck Graham, the Democratic candidate for the 19th District seat in the Missouri Senate, called on Republican candidate Mike Ditmore to release to the public a questionnaire from Missouri Right to Life that led the group to give Ditmore a 100 percent “pro-life” rating.

The rating appeared in the organization’s General Election Endorsement Guide. Graham, however, took issue with the group’s assessment of Ditmore.

“There is no way Missouri Right to Life would have given Mike that rating unless he was opposed to stem-cell research, which he now says he supports,” Graham said. “He’s lying to Missouri Right to Life, or he’s lying to the voters of this district. I’d just like to know which group he is lying to.”

In a similar questionnaire posted online by the Missouri Catholic Conference, Ditmore said he supports the following statement “Cloning: The state should prohibit all human cloning — including so-called “therapeutic cloning” and somatic-cell nuclear transfer — and any other research practices that destroy human embryos for their tissue or stem cells.”

Ditmore said that he will not release the Right to Life questionnaire unless Graham releases his questionnaire. Ditmore is a retired neurosurgeon and said that he knew too much when he read the questionnaire.

“I read the questions as a scientist,” he said.

Ditmore tried to clarify his position: Stem cells taken from embryos fertilized through in-vitro fertilization and aborted fetuses, he said, should not be used for research purposes or in clinical treatments. Eggs that have been coaxed into the blastocyst stage after somatic-cell nuclear transfer can be used before they develop into embryonic cells, in his opinion.

“Embryos should not be killed for their stem cells,” Ditmore said.

Mary Andersen, who works as a biologist for MU’s School of Medicine and is a local activist for Missouri Right to Life, said Ditmore’s definition is very technical.

“Somatic-cell nuclear transfer is another way of cloning,” Andersen said. "It is creating human life and using that life for research, and that

is wrong.”

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