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Hadassah lobbies in favor of stem-cell research

March 02, 2005
By: Elizabeth Baird
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Over 100 women of the Hadassah organization filled the Captiol Wednesday, lobbying against legislation that would outlaw stem-cell research, in what they called the "State of Stem-Cells Event."

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, would outlaw human cloning and stem cell research, which some scientists say could lead to cures of degenerative diseases.

Hadassah, an international organization of Zionist women, has chapters in all 50 states as well as Israel, and more than 300,000 members.

Sauci Saffitz, one of the St. Louis co-organizers of the event, said the group wants to let legislators know that many people oppose these bills.

"We are in favor of stem-cell research, it is essential for that to continue," she said.

Human cloning has been hotly debated at the Capitol in recent weeks. The debate centers on whether the cells used in stem-cell research qualify as human life. Groups have made appearances in Jefferson City, both in support and protest.

The group's activities in the capitol included talking to their local representatives and senators, as well as holding a reception in the rotunda.

Hadassah member Theresa Jernigan of Kansas City said that the real issue is quality of life. Jernigan has been confined to wheelchair for over eight years as a result of a spinal cord injury, and said that stem-cell research could potentially help her condition.

"We don't want a miraculous cure, we just want to be like everyone else, I want to be like everyone else."

The Senate version of the bill passed out of committee on Feb. 14, and now awaits for debate on the House floor. It left committee with a vote of 7-2.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia voted against the bill in committee.

"I'm certainly committed that the ban on stem cells doesn't pass," Said Graham, "I appreciate their support."

Supporters of the bill have scheduled their lobby day next Tuesday, headed by the Missouri Right for Life organization.

Saffitz said the most important thing about the day was to get the word out.