Early: The New “Embryonic”

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Rebecca Taylor of Mary Meets Dolly links to this Kansas City Star article:

Missouri’s cloning war came to the Capitol on Thursday when two Washington University scientists wrangled over research on early stem cells and the laboratory techniques used to grow them.

...

The two men, both respected researchers, offered their competing viewpoints during a forum at the Missouri Press Association’s Day at the Capitol.

Rebecca makes a great point about the following:

The conclusion? It comes down to whether you view the cells created by the process to be a person.

Steven Teitelbaum, a professor who supports the initiative petition that would protect stem-cell research in Missouri, said he believes that cells in a Petri dish are not persons. But science, he said, cannot answer the question.

“It depends on your religious tradition, your ethics, the feeling in your gut…” Teitelbaum said. “When does a soul come into the body, if at all? Clearly, no one knows that.”

Richard Chole, a fellow professor who opposes the initiative, said he believes that a human being is formed at the moment of conception or the moment that a person’s skin cell is copied through cloning techniques. Taking the stem cells that develop, he said, essentially kills a developing human.

“A line should be drawn,” Chole said, “at the point we are destroying a human life.”

Rebecca's take:

Teitelbaum is correct that there is no way to scientifically prove when the soul enters the body. And different religions hold differing beliefs. We Catholics believe that the soul is present from the moment of conception because that is when science tells us that a new human life begins. (Surprisingly, many Catholics erroneously believe that an embryo created by SCNT does not have a soul.)

But, if he is correct that no one knows for sure, why would he automatically say it is okay to destroy life that we are unsure about? Wouldn't logic dictate that if "science cannot answer that question" that science should err on the side of caution?

Indeed.

Other than that point, something else caught my attention in this article. See the following excerpts:

Missouri’s cloning war came to the Capitol on Thursday when two Washington University scientists wrangled over research on early stem cells and the laboratory techniques used to grow them.

...

The controversy involves a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, sometimes called therapeutic cloning. Researchers take a human egg cell, remove its nucleus and replace it with the nucleus of an ordinary cell, such as a skin cell. The egg reprograms the nucleus to act like an egg that was newly fertilized by a sperm.

In a few days, it will grow into a ball of cells known as a blastocyst. Inside that ball are early stem cells, which have the potential to grow into all the different tissues of the body.

...

The basic issue, he said, is the vast potential that research on early stem cells offers.

The author's bias on this issue is shining as brightly as Moses' face when he descended Mt. Sinai, veiled in the substitution of "early stem cells" for "embryonic stem cells" and referring to the embryo as a "ball of cells".

SCNT is a cloning technique that results in a zygote. Upon first division, that entity is then an embryo, by definition. The blastocyst is part of the embryonic phase of development of that entity. Thus, the stem cells contained within that blastocyst are embryonic stem cells.

But the bias doesn't stop with the misrepresentation of the nature of stem cells as embryonic. Note that the author also makes this statement:

The controversy involves a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, sometimes called therapeutic cloning.

Saying that SCNT is "sometimes" called therapeutic cloning is like saying the President of the United States (POTUS) is "sometimes" called the Commander-In-Chief (CIC). POTUS is always the CIC, even if he does not always act in that capacity. SCNT is always cloning; the differentiation between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" exists only in the intended use of the product of the procedure.

To that end, I find the following arguments by Steven Teitelbaum to be specious.

First:

Teitelbaum said the initiative uses common-sense meanings. When typical voters think of human cloning, they expect to see a baby, he said. The initiative would ban cloning a baby by imposing criminal penalties against anyone who attempted to implant cloned cells into a woman’s uterus.

Proponents claim the initiative uses "common-sense meanings", yet the initiative fact sheet adamantly claims that it bans human cloning:

Voting YES on the Initiative protects stem cell research and cures - and strictly prohibits human cloning.

...

It also sets responsible boundaries and guidelines to ensure that stem cell research is conducted ethically and safely. And, it resolves concerns that stem cell research could lead to human cloning by strictly banning any attempt to clone a human being.

These semantics are not "common-sense"; they are an intentional misrepresentation of the nature and intent of both the procedure, and the initiativfe itself. At the point of implantation into the uterus, the cloning procedure has long-since been completed, and the clone has long-since been created. At this point, implantation in the uterus versus harvesting for stem cells is a matter of intended use of the clone, not one of defining the nature or identity of the entity resulting from the cloning procedure.

Second:

In addition, the blastocyst created by nuclear transfer is fundamentally different from one created by the union of sperm and egg, Teitelbaum said. The sexually produced blastocyst has some 25 genes functioning that permit it to implant in the uterus and begin to develop. In the cloned version, those genes are not functioning, he said.

Oh really? Fundamentally different, eh? Somebody better tell Dolly; she still thinks she's a sheep. A whole lot of researchers are going to be shocked by this revelation that she is "fundamentally different" from a sheep, because she was the result of SCNT.

OYB February 19

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 7:28-38, Leviticus 8, Leviticus 9:1-6
NT: Mark 3:31-35, Mark 4:1-25
Ps: Psalm 37:12-29
Pr: Proverbs 10:5

Today´s notable verse:

33 Do not leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days. 34 What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you. 35 You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.

Leviticus 8:33-35 (NIV)

Out of curiosity, what of the observance of the Sabbath during this seven-day ordination period?

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - I realize that my reflections above in the OT section on clergy at churches receiving compensation might be controversial in some ways. What are your thoughts on your clergy receiving compensation? What are your thoughts on others in other types of ministry receiving compensation? Where do we draw the line of when ministry should be done with compensation or without compensation?

Absolutely, ministers of the Word should be compensated and supported by those to whom they minister. See the words of Paul in I Corinthians chapter 9:

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

I Corinthians 9:7-14

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Further, I think ministers should be well-compensated. Financial issues should not be an inherent burden for our ministers (though, of course, they have the same responsibility of financial stewardship that the rest of us have). At the same time, I think ministers outwardly should display the utmost in humility with respect to materialism. Within those bounds, I think the Spirit will direct in such matters.

A Reader’s Response on ANT

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Parableman stops by this post about the stem-cell issue, that I submitted to Christian Carnival CIX. He has some thoughts on ANT:

I don't think it's as clear on ANT. The way it's usually been described from what I've read is that they alter the genetic information before they import the nucleus. The genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any orgnanism, and I think what they're doing is not like producing a human being that is alive and unable to grow but more like producing a corpse with still-living material. But it's not producing a corpse by killing an organism. It's more like producing a corpse by putting together materials that are incapable of being an organism. That doesn't sound anywhere near as problematic as the way you describe it. I think there are ethical worries, but I think it's misleading to describe it as a living embryo and then preventing it from growing. Does it count as an organism at all? I don't think that's as easy a question as you're making it sound. Current understandings of what it takes to answer that seem to me to be indeterminate on this sort of question.

I appreciate all input, and I'd like to discuss. On this statement:

The way it's usually been described from what I've read is that they alter the genetic information before they import the nucleus. The genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any orgnanism...

Let's take a look at what actually happens in the process. The method used here is still Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT):

The nucleus of a cell contains DNA, which acts roughly as its blueprint (although unlike an actual blueprint, these instructions are greatly affected by environment as well as other factors not yet fully understood and can change over time). In somatic cell nuclear transfer the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is removed or destroyed. A somatic cell (a cell other than a sperm or egg cell) is then inserted into the enucleated egg and the two cells fuse together.

Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) modifies not the process, but one of the components: namely, the somatic cell implanted in the nucleus-free egg. What, then, is a somatic cell?

A somatic cell is generally taken to mean any cell forming the body of an organism: the word "somatic" is derived from the Greek word s?ma, meaning "body". Somatic cells, by definition, are not germline cells and cannot divide or differentiate to produce a new generation of offspring under any circumstances. In mammals, germline cells are the sperm and ova (also known as "gametes") which fuse during fertilisation to produce a cell called a zygote, from which the entire mammalian embryo develops. Every other cell type in the mammalian body – apart from the sperm and ova, the cells from which they are made (gametocytes) and undifferentiated stem cells – is a somatic cell; internal organs, skin, bones, blood and connective tissue are all made up of somatic cells.

...

Somatic cells can also be defined by the amount of genetic material they contain, which in mammals is always twice as much as contained in a germline cell. The genetic information in human somatic cells is packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. Human germline cells contain exactly half this amount, i.e. 23 single chromosomes. This means that when an ova and sperm fuse, they produce a zygote with 23 pairs of chromosomes.

The problem, then, that I have with your statement that "genetic engineering thus takes place before there's any organism" is that the SCNT process (altered or otherwise) requires a genetically fully human organism to be present at every step. The process starts with a genetically fully human somatic cell, implants it into an enucleated human gamete, creating a genetically fully human embryo. Both the original somatic cell and the resulting embryo contain 23 pairs of chromosomes.

ANT does not modify this genetic makeup of either the somatic cell nor of the resulting embryo. This point is critical, and ANT proponents (including Dr. Hurlbut) try to disguise this fact:

Altered Nuclear Transfer uses the technology of NT but with a preemptive alteration that assures that no embryo is created.

The somatic cell nucleus or the enucleated egg contents (cytoplasm) or both are first altered before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg. The alterations cause the somatic cell DNA to function in such a way that no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced.

This point is critical, and ANT proponents' position here is untenable. Stem cells are not "formed", they are - by definition - derived from an embryo. Definition of embryonic stem cells:

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are stem cells derived from the undifferentiated inner mass cells of a human embryo (sometimes called a blastocyst, which is an early stage embryo - approximately 1 week old in humans - consisting of 50-150 cells).

To be clear, here is the definition of a blastocyst:

A mammal develops from a single cell called a zygote, which results from an oocyte (egg) being fertilized by a single sperm. The zygote is surrounded by a strong membrane of glycoproteins called the zona pellucida which the successful sperm has managed to penetrate.

The zygote undergoes cleavage, increasing the number of cells within the zona pellucida. When there are about 4 to 16 cells, the embryo is in the morula stage. When the number of cells reaches 40 to 150, a central, fluid-filled cavity (blastocoel) forms. The zona pellucida begins to degenerate. This stage in the developing embryo is the blastocyst, and lasts approximately until the implantation in the uterus. The outer cells develop into the placenta.

The definition of a zygote:

A zygote ...is a cell that is the result of fertilization. That is, two haploid cells—usually (but not always) an ovum from a female and a sperm cell from a male—merge into a single diploid cell called the zygote (or zygocyte).

Animal zygotes undergo mitotic cell divisions to become an embryo.

And finally, the definition of embryo:

An embryo ...is a diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development.

...

In organisms that reproduce sexually, once a sperm fertilizes an egg cell, the result is a cell called the zygote that has all the DNA of two parents. In plants, animals, and some protists, the zygote will begin to divide by mitosis to produce a multicellular organism. The term embryo refers to the early stages of this development, after the zygote has divided at least once, but before the process has completed to produce a new individual.

Apologies for the copious quoting, but it is important that the meanings of each of these terms are understood.

Now, back to Hulburt's defense:

Why the cell produced by ANT is not an embryo and cannot produce an embryo:

Because the alterations are made before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg, the result of the ANT procedure is a cell whose DNA and pattern of gene expression are not only altered, but altered from the very start. Therefore from the very start it does not have the capacity for the integrated organization and coordinated development that characterize a human embryo. This is clearest in the case of ANT-OAR where the cell directly behaves like a pluripotent cell.

Elsewhere, in his bioethics presentation to the President, he gives this explanation for why the result of ANT is not a "living organism":

The moral argument for Altered Nuclear Transfer is grounded in the emerging science of systems biology. According to this radical revision of our prevailing reductionistic views, an organism is a living whole, a dynamic network of interdependent and integrated parts.

There are essential subsystems of growth (cells, tissues and organs), but a living being is more than the sum of its parts, and the parts are dependent on the integrated unity of the whole. Fully constituted, the organism is a self-sustaining and harmonious whole, a unified being with an inherent principle of organization that orders and guides its continuity of growth. In the human embryo, this principle of organismal unity is an engaged and effective potential-in-process, an activated dynamic of development in the direction of the mature human form. Incompletely constituted or severed from the whole, subsystems with partial trajectories of development may temporarily proceed forward with a certain biological momentum. Ultimately, however, they fail to rise to the level of the coordinated coherence of a living organism and become merely disorganized cellular growth.

This is dangerous ground, for several reasons. Unaltered, the somatic cell and egg would fuse, begin mitosis, and the resulting embryo would proceed on to further development. Altered, the somatic cell and egg would fuse, begin mitosis (note, again, at this point, the organism is an embryo) - identical to the unaltered organism, except that it has been genetically robbed of its inherent ability to develop. Let me reiterate: the moment a zygote containing 23 paired human chromosomes divides, an embryo exists; a non-viable embryo, to be sure - but an embryo, nonetheless. ANT proponents can argue the moral impact of the creation of a non-viable embryo, but to claim that ANT does not produce an embryo is a fallacy. Two arguments:

  • First, NT produces a zygote, which upon first division becomes - by definition - an embryo.
  • Second, ANT does not produce stem cells directly, but an organism containing stem cells. As was demonstrated above, the entity containing stem cells is an embryo at the blastocyst stage.

So, coming back to Parableman's comment:

I think what they're doing is not like producing a human being that is alive and unable to grow but more like producing a corpse with still-living material. But it's not producing a corpse by killing an organism. It's more like producing a corpse by putting together materials that are incapable of being an organism.

Hopefully you can see now that the rationalization for the entity created from ANT being non-living (or non-human, or whatever term they choose to use) is to re-define the meaning of "living":"Fully constituted, the organism is a self-sustaining and harmonious whole, a unified being with an inherent principle of organization that orders and guides its continuity of growth. In the human embryo, this principle of organismal unity is an engaged and effective potential-in-process, an activated dynamic of development in the direction of the mature human form." Again, unaltered, the embryo would progress along the natural developmental path; altered, the embryo is denied that natural development.

This rationalization is crudely analagous to genetically altering the hypothalamus or androgen/LH receptor genes of a child, inhibiting that child from progressing through puberty into adulthood, and then claiming that, because the child is unable to progress along his natural developmental path, that he is not "living".

Remember, the somatic cell is inherently capable of development into a fully developed entity. This concept is the entire basis of SCNT. Thus, the somatic cell is in no way materials that are incapable of being an organism, nor is it like "corpse with still-living material.

The moral and ethical concerns of genetically altering a potential human life are myriad, and better left for another day. My point here is only to clarify the process of ANT and the nature of the entities involved beforehand and produced as a result.

Finally, Parableman's comment:

...I think it's misleading to describe it as a living embryo and then preventing it from growing.

The embryo resulting from SCNT inherently progresses along its natural development path. The embryo resulting from ANT begins progressing along that same natural development path, but has been genetically inhibited from completing that path. It reaches at least the blastocyst stage - as evidenced by its development of embryonic stem cells.

ANT does not directly produce stem cells; it produces an embryo that develops stem cells as part of its natural developmenet process. Again, argue the moral/ethical issues surrounding the creation of an embryo genetically altered to inhibit its development; but the claim that ANT does not produce a human embryo is unequivocally untrue.

Clone The Truth: Stem-Cell Research Splits Republicans

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Democrats, Republicans, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Today's obfuscation comes from roto-Reuters, in Stem Cell Research Splits Republicans.

Getting right into it:

The Republican rift pits religious conservatives and abortion foes who oppose the research on moral grounds against supporters who tout its potential benefits in fighting diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research has proven no potential for benefits in fighting or curing any diseases. Adult Stem Cells (ASRs), however, have already proven to be efficacious in treating Parkinson's Disease, and are beginning to demonstrate effectiveness in fighting Alzheimer's Disease. Proponents of ESC research never seem to note these accomplishments of ASRs, nor do the MSM outlets reporting on stem-cell related news and issues.

With polls showing large majorities of Americans backing stem-cell research, some Republican candidates find themselves stuck in the middle. Democrats, who largely support the research, are eager to take advantage of their quandary.

Large majorities of Americans back stem-cell research? No differentiation between ASC and ESC research? This 2001 ABC News poll says most Americans support stem cell research, yet buried in the article is this note:

In a poll it released last month, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops posed the issue by saying "live embryos would be destroyed" for undefined "experiments"; it found 70 percent opposed. By contrast, a pro-research poll didn't mention embryos, referring to "excess fertilized eggs" and listing seven "deadly diseases" the research could help treat. It found 77 percent in favor.

Words matter.

In Missouri, supporters are gathering signatures to put a referendum on the state ballot in November that would protect certain types of stem-cell research.

Not "certain types" - all types. The initiative redefines "cloning" as "not cloning":

Voting YES on the Initiative protects stem cell research and cures - and strictly prohibits human cloning.

Clearly, a state ban on any lifesaving stem cell research and cures that are allowed in our country would be unfair to Missouri patients and medical institutions. The Stem Cell Initiative will prevent such unfair bans by making it clear in our state constitution that any stem cell research and cures allowed under federal law will continue to be allowed in Missouri.

It also sets responsible boundaries and guidelines to ensure that stem cell research is conducted ethically and safely. And, it resolves concerns that stem cell research could lead to human cloning by strictly banning any attempt to clone a human being.

And intentionally to confuse the issue with voters, and practically requires the state to fund research with public funds.

But he recently dropped support for a controversial ban on human cloning and offered a compromise on stem-cell research, angering conservatives who were among his base supporters.

The proposed cloning ban is "controversial" in the same way that Cheney's hunting accident was "news" - only because the MSM tried to make it so. Yet another 2001 ABC News poll found that 9 out of 10 Americans oppose human reproductive cloning, and Americans oppose human therapeutic cloning 2 to 1.

"Talent is in a political no man's land where he is in the line of fire from people on both sides of the issue," said Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, an anti-abortion lobbying group. Lee said opponents of stem-cell research were angry enough to skip voting for Talent in November.

Right, Republicans are going to allow - actively or passively - the staunchly pro-ESC research Claire McCaskill to unseat Talent. Roto-Reuters is smoking the funny mushrooms again.

Stem-cell research is opposed by conservative groups who compare it to abortion because it destroys embryos. But supporters, including some Republicans who oppose abortion rights, say the research offers crucial hope for medical breakthroughs.

Again, ESC research has offered no hope whatsoever - much less, "crucial hope" - for any medical breakthrough, while ASC research has already yielded at least 65 treatments, and the numbers keep growing. (Caveat emptor: the "Stem Cell Research Foundation" is complicit in the redefinition of terminology, including this statement: "Therapeutic cloning is not the same as reproductive cloning, which is intended to genetically duplicate a person" knowing full-well that SCNT genetically duplicates the donor of the somatic cell. However, even their "what's new" section cannot hide the fact that ASCs produce benefit, cure, and therapy after benefit, cure, and therapy while ESCs are long on hype and woefully short on results.)

Via John Combest.

MetroVoice 2006 Sanctity of Life Special Edition

Filed in Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The February 2006 St. Louis MetroVoice is a Special Edition devoted to Sanctity of Life.

The edition includes:

MetroVoice's Editorial Policy:

The MetroVoice is non-denominationally and non-politically aligned to encourage unity and activism in support of, or opposition to, those issues which affect the Christian community in particular and local community as a whole. It supports the biblical doctrines expressed in the ecumenical creeds of the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Creed of Chalcedon and Athanasian Creed and views both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as the infallible and authoritative Word of God.

OYB February 18

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 6, Leviticus 7:1-27
NT: Mark 3:7-30
Ps: Psalm 37:1-11
Pr: Proverbs 10:3-4

Today´s notable verse:

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - ...[D]o you have any other Holy Spirit book or other resources recommendations?

Not really. I'm still working through everything the Bible itself has to say about the Holy Spirit. I'd rather rely on God's revelation of His Word to me directly through the Spirit, before spending too much time reading what others have to say. In other words, why read a biography of George W. Bush, when I could instead talk directly to the man? The same is true for the Holy Spirit. He is always faithful to reveal Himself to us when we ask - to guide and direct us, and to minister to us.

Filibustering to Facilitate Fraud

Filed in PoliticsTags: Democrats, Elections, Missouri, Republicans

Missouri Senate Democrats intend to filibuster a bill requiring government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Their justification? Typical democrat non-sequitur:

Democrats say the Republican aim is to suppress turnout among the poor, elderly and disabled — many of whom lost their Medicaid coverage last year and would be more likely to vote Democratic this fall.

Someone make me smart; what does being poor, elderly, or disabled have to do with obtaining and presenting a government-issued photo ID when voting?

Now, the real constituency in danger with this bill is the deceased vote (the Democrats' strongest voting bloc in the Saint Louis area). Given the difficulty of providing photo IDs for dead people (and the additional provision in the bill, repealing the state law allowing people to appeal their removal from voter rolls - something intended to cull voter rolls of those who have already assumed room temperature), I can completely understand why state democrats would want to block passage of this bill.

The final nail in the coffin (so to speak) to the democrats' fraud-vote efforts is the bill's provision eliminating Missouri's early voting.

UPDATE:

For reference: Senate Bill SB1014 Summary:

Under current law, election authorities shall arrange registration cards in binders or authorize the creation of computer lists to document voter registration. This act requires election authorities to use the Missouri voter registration system to prepare a precinct register of legally registered voters for each precinct.

The act bars persons from compensating others for registering voters. Those who agree to or offer to submit a voter registration application for another person shall not knowingly destroy, deface, or conceal such an application and shall submit the application to the election authority within seven days of accepting the application. Those in violation of these provisions are guilty of a class four election offense.

Persons paid for soliciting more than ten voter registration applications, other than those paid by the government, must register with the secretary of state as a voter registration solicitor. A solicitor must be eighteen years old, registered to vote in Missouri, and register for every election cycle. Penalties for the failure to register are provided in the act.

The act allows anyone who believes a violation of the Help America Vote Act has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur may file a complaint with the elections division of the secretary of state's office. Complaint requirements are established.

The act amends personal identification requirements to be shown to gain voter eligibility at polling places. The identification must be issued by the United States or the state of Missouri, include the individual’s name and photograph, and must have not expired before the date of the most recent general election. Voters with physical or mental disabilities, handicaps or sincerely held religious beliefs who do not have sufficient identification are exempt from the requirement if they execute an affidavit stating such a sufficient reason. These individuals may cast a provisional ballot.

The act allows for issuing non-driver's licenses with photographic images to fulfill the identification requirement. The state of Missouri shall pay all the legally required fees for applicants for non-driver's licenses. Persons residing in convalescent, nursing, and boarding homes shall be issued a non-driver’s license through a mobile processing system operated by the department of revenue at no cost.

Procedures to be followed to establish a voter's eligibility to vote at a polling place are established. Provisional ballots are allowed in some circumstances. Prior to counting provisional ballots, the election authority must determine if the voter is registered and eligible to vote, and the vote was properly cast. Procedures for this determination are included in the act.

Under the act, state courts shall not have jurisdiction to extend polling hours.

Procedures for inspecting ballot cards are established.

The act makes the engaging in any act of violence, destruction of property having a value of five hundred dollars or more, or threatened act of violence with the intent of denying a person’s lawful right to participate in the election process, and knowingly providing false information about election procedures for the purpose of preventing someone from going to the polls, a class one election offense and a felony.

This act repeals provisions requiring election authorities to establish advance voting plans. This act also repeals current law allowing voters to appeal the removal of their name from voter registration records.

This act contains an emergency clause.

SB1014 Full Text

Regular reader Dwayne comments:

As far as why the requirement for a government issued ID (beyond, I assume a voter registration card) is discriminatory is because the population that you describe is much more likely than the general population not to have such a card already. You've most likely already got a driver's license. Odds are much greater that the poor, elderly, and disabled do not. So they would have to invest time and money for something of very limited value to their subsistence lives. Yes, they can get one. But if you're worrying about having enough food for the day, you're not going to "waste" any money and effort on getting a silly card.

As these arguments are fairly common for such legislation, I'll address them here, rather than in the comments.

I don't find the argument very persuasive that the poor, elderly, or disabled are especially disadvantaged or disinclined to have or get a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

First, voting is both a privilege and a responsibility. Ensuring that voting is free of fraud and an accurate reflection of the will of the citizenry is of such paramount importance that some inconvenience toward that end on the part of the voters is acceptable.

Second, the requirement itself does not present an undue burden, since in order to vote, a person must have first made the effort to register and second made the effort to vote. Making an effort to obtain a government-issued photo ID falls in line with these activities. Presumably, if someone is able to do what is required to register to vote and to do what is required to cast a vote (namely, being able to travel to the required location), then that person is equally able to do what is required to obtain a government-issued photo ID (again, being able to travel to the required location).

Third, I believe that most/all states that have enacted similar photo-ID requirements have made provisions to allow for the impoverished to obtain an ID (in order not to violate the poll-tax laws). If the state were to charge $50 for an ID, I would agree with your argument. However, according to this Post-Dispatch article:

Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, replied that there's no intent to "suppress voter turnout." He said free photo IDs would be made available to those who need them, and he envisions teams of state workers sent out to help photograph voters who are home-bound or in nursing homes.

The bill also makes provisions for other potential forms of discrimination:

The bill also contains an exception for disabled voters, or those who object to a photo ID on religious grounds, if they sign an affidavit at the polls verifying their reason.

Two other key points from the article:

Hearne said he believes that a photo ID will "increase voter participation," because voters will face fewer questions at the polls since they could easily prove their identity.

He emphasized that Missouri will foot the bill for the free photo ID cards.

Note the unhinged rhetoric of the bill's opponents:

But Mary A. Ratliff, president of the Missouri NAACP, called the bill "just another attempt by Republicans to keep African-Americans and people of low and middle incomes off the rolls."

Photo IDs are racist? What?

A photo ID "erects another barrier to people with disabilities," said Michelle Bishop with the Missouri Disability Vote Project.

A barrier is only erected for dead people and non-people to get a photo ID.

"This bill seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist," said state Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti. "These are the same people who the Republicans threw off Medicaid. Now they're taking away their right to vote."

Ah, yes; those EEEEEEVIL Republicans! Took granny's food and medicine away, and now they're coming for her voting rights...

The Rev. Gil Ford, regional director for the NAACP, said he was amazed that Missouri legislators were seeking to make it tougher for residents to cast ballots "at the same time that they're trying to make it easier for our soldiers to vote in Iraq."

"In preacher terms," Ford said, "we call that hypocrisy."

Hypocrisy? To make it easier for US soldiers fighting abroad to defend your right to live, vote, and make asinine statements like this one? No, sir; what is hypocritical (and unconscionable) was for Al Gore to go to court to disenfranchise those same soldiers due to absentee ballot technicalities. What is hypocritical is for you to attempt to lend moral authority to your statement by appealing to "preacher terms" while speaking as nothing more than a spokesman and political hack for a racist and ideologically discriminatory organization.

Vote fraud in Missouri is well-known and rampant. See this excerpt from a floor statement made by Senator Kit Bond in 2002:

Now our friends on the other side made fun of the fact that we had dogs registered to vote in Missouri and in Maryland. Well, that sounds kind of crazy, but the system is so sloppy, the motor voter law has made it possible for people to register dogs. I will guarantee there are a lot more fraudulent votes than just the dogs.

Some have objected and said we have not shown widespread fraud in St. Louis. Oh, yes, we have. Wherever we have looked, we have found fraud. Wherever we have looked, we have found ineligible people voting, dead people voting, felons voting--in Virginia, Wisconsin, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, and Texas.

What we found that in Missouri they had judges ordering people to be registered to vote. They went before a judge, and he said: Why are you not registered? One said: I am a Democrat. Another one said: I want to vote for Gore. Another one said: I have been a felon and forgot to re-register. Thirteen hundred people were registered by judge order. The secretary of state went back and did an exhaustive search on those 1,300 and found 97 percent of them were not lawful votes.

In the mayoral primary in 2001, 3,000 postcard registrations were dumped on the election board on the last day. At that point, my colleagues in the other party in St. Louis, who were a lot more concerned about stealing a mayor's race than they were about stealing a Governor's race or President's race or a Senate race, raised cane.

When those postcard registrations were looked at, they were all found to have had the same handwriting--many of them had the same handwriting. They were on one or two blocks. Those have all been turned over to the prosecuting authorities. We have not gotten any convictions yet.

We also know that right before the general election in November of 2000, 30,000 postcard registrations were dumped on the St. Louis city election board. Nobody has gone back and reviewed them, but the guess is that at least 15,000 of them were fraudulent. Is it not a little bit beyond credibility that St. Louis, which had 200,000 registered voters, would on the last 2 days of registration register 30,000 people, equal to 15 percent?

That is one of the reasons St. Louis has almost as many registered voters as it has adults. It would be truly remarkable if each one of those registrations equaled a registration of somebody who was an adult human being entitled to vote in Missouri. I do not believe it. We have not had the resources to go back and check.

News From The Home State

Filed in PersonalTags: Indiana, Indianapolis, Terre Haute

The Good:
Purdue University Basketball Coaching Legend Gene Keady is one of 16 finalists for the 2006 Basketball Hall of Fame ballot.

The Bad:
The death of James Dungy, son of Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, was ruled a suicide, according to the medical examiner's final autopsy report.

The Ugly:
A storm that ripped off the roof from Union Christian Church and damaged Hulman Airfield in Terre Haute was determined to be a tornado according to the National Weather Service.

A weather service crew visited southwestern Indiana today, the morning after a cold front spawned thunderstorms and then dumped temperatures from the springlike to the frigid. The crew concluded an F1 tornado with winds of about 100 mph caused the damage.

The funnel cloud, which was nearly 100 yards wide, stayed on the ground for about two miles on Terre Haute’s east side, ripping through the church and the airport, the weather service said.

Friday Ark #74

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Carnivals

Friday Ark #74 is up at The Modulator. Millie's posts Staying Warm and The Huntress are included in this week's ark.

Friday Catblogging: Staying Warm

Filed in PersonalTags: Cats, Pets, Photos

My human was kind enough to move my bed to my favorite sleeping spot underneath the computer desk:

millie 043

It's cold outside, but I'm nice and warm in here!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved