Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes and national conservative activist Rick Scarborough rallied hundreds of people Thursday night to vote against a state constitutional amendment to protect embryonic stem cell research.
The rally was held at the Central Assembly of God church in downtown Springfield. Both men held a press conference with reporters earlier.
Watch our KY3 News @ 10 report by clicking HERE.
Here's more from the press conference that we couldn't fit in the TV piece:
Alan Keyes called Missouri's vote on embryonic stem cell research "the testing ground for fundamental moral approach to this country."
Keyes made the case that just because embryos in a Petri dish don't look like a human life, doesn't mean they are not people.
"That means that you haven't developed to a certain stage that's adequate for other people, to regard you . . . that doesn't mean you are not entitled to be treated with respect for your life," Keyes said.
Keyes said passage of this amendment "would turn the clock back."
Although outspent by the stem cell amendment sponsor, Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Scarborough said the "anti-cloning" coalition is gaining momentum. "As we travel across this state, there's a growing reaction to the deception that has been put forth," Scarborough said.
Missouri Right to Life's Dave Plemmons tells the KY3 Political blog that opponents of embryonic stem cells will soon begin an aggressive advertising blitz around the state. Plemmons said that while the pro-embryonic groups began the year with majority support from Missouri voters, opponents are gradually making political progress with evangelical and social conservatives, especially in Southwest Missouri. "There will be an infusion from out of state from groups with money to run the ads," Plemmons said.
Keyes said he disregards the politics and polls when he makes these moral decisions. "It's an amazing step we are asking Missouri voters to take and that's to codify and place in their constitution, the obligation to kill a human being to extract a stem cell line," Keyes said.
Republican Greene County Commissioner Roseanne Bentley signed on to support the amendment months ago, when she was asked personally by former Sen. John Danforth to chair the coalition's movement in the Ozarks.
"I'm more of a moderate Republican, more of a Jack Danforth Republican," Bentley said. "I just really like and respect him."
Bentley doesn't believe an embryo is the same thing as a living human being.
"You have to plant that blastocyst in a uterus in order for it to grow and become a human being,
Bentley said. "Don't call doctors and scientists are trying to do authentic research criminals."
But Keyes and Scarborough are calling these doctors much more than just criminals. They are calling them deceptive, morally bankrupt and sinful, and driven by economic gain.
When I asked Keyes if voters should vote FOR the amendment if they do not believe an embryo is a human, he replied by linking embryonic stem cell research to America's dark history of slavery.
"What if you had just said, some people think that black people are not human and other people think they are human, so if you think black people are not human, you should vote for slavery?," Keyes said, adding that he hopes people would be outraged.
"So we're going to go back to these old days when if you don't look the way you are supposed to, then we don't have to treat you as human," Keyes said.
Keyes then referred to America's infamous tenet that "All Men Are Created Equal."
"If says we are created equal, that is from the most beginning you can think of, because creation is the very beginning, we are equal in that sense . . . and (embryos) must be treated with equal respect with that dignity," Keyes said.
Keyes said no matter what the other side says, it's a fact that they are proposing to clone human beings. Keyes said he even accepts his opponents definition. "As I recall, they refer to it as therapeutic cloning. Therefore there is no dispute that it is cloning," Keyes said.
"I abhor cloning and I wouldn't be for this if it entailed cloning," Bentley said. "I'm very opposed to abortion, I'm very opposed to cloning but I think this is completely separate from that."
But Bentley said she tries talks about the issue in more sober terms, without using extreme or dire rhetoric.
"I think it is a shame that it's become so political," Bentley said.
This is about finding lifesaving cures, Bentley said, adding that there is no way her God would consider this procedure a sin.
A SurveyUSA poll conducted in early September showed that 54% of Missourians support a constitutional amendment to protect embryonic stem cell research. 24% oppose the amendment and another 24% are undecided. Democrats approve the amendment 10-to-1. Republicans opposed it 3-to-2.