JEFFERSON CITY — Just before the state Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on anti-cloning legislation Monday evening, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, wiped tears from his eyes.
The bill, which passed 7-2, would halt cloning and somatic-cell nuclear-transfer research in humans, which some Missouri scientists say has the potential to cure many degenerative diseases.
Graham, who has used a wheelchair since age 16, voted against the bill. He said he appreciated and respected the treatment of the issue by the other members of the committee.
“I know this is an extremely hard vote for many people here,” Graham said. “I have been pulled into this, which is natural because it certainly centers around something I deal with. I want to extend hope to people.”
The only other opposing vote came from Sen. Charles Wheeler, D-Kansas City.
Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, said he would like to hear more scientific testimony about the somatic-cell nuclear-transfer process and urged the other members to learn as much as they could about stem-cell research.
“I have profound concerns over the direction we are taking over a very limited amount of time,” Koster said. “It is hard to find a vote like this anywhere in past history, when this legislature defined life begins at conception. This pushes the statement of where life begins even farther.”
After the vote, Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, who chairs the committee and sponsored the bill, said the decision made was extremely difficult. He added the issue still has many steps left to go within the Missouri Senate.
“Nobody standing here tonight thinks this is the end of the road,” Bartle said. “These people were agonizing with themselves in order to make a decision. This is one of those no-win situations for the legislature.”