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Stem-cell stance is opposed

Missouri Catholics go against views of bishops

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of prominent Catholics is challenging church leaders' opposition to stem cell research and to the proposed constitutional amendment that would protect such research in Missouri.

The group, led by former Sen. Tom Eagleton, e-mailed a letter to fellow Catholics last week explaining its reasons for supporting Amendment 2, which Missourians will vote on Tuesday.

The amendment would ensure that any federally approved stem cell research and treatments would be available in Missouri.

The letter from Catholics for Amendment 2 said the group felt a moral obligation to respond to what it called misinformation, scare tactics and distortions being spread by opponents of the initiative, including the church.

"Some people want to ban all stem cell research," the letter said. "At the other extreme there are those who would like to see research proceed completely unfettered. We believe that Amendment 2 strikes a responsible balance ... (with) clear ethical boundaries and safety guidelines."

The letter challenges Missouri's Catholic bishops, who sent letters last week urging parishioners to vote against Amendment 2. It included a brochure that said the amendment also would divert money from college loans and health care, and prohibit any governor, judge or other officials from regulating or limiting the research.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese wrote that the amendment would enshrine in the state constitution the right to clone human beings.

"This extreme protection of one industry, for something that is inherently and gravely immoral, is unprecedented in any state," Finn wrote.