Stem Cell Opponents To Air Celebrity Ad

Jeff Suppan #37 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the New York Mets during game seven of the NLCS at Shea Stadium on October 19, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

In an effort to shoot down a controversial measure that would legalize stem cell research in Missouri — and rebut an advertisement featuring Michael J. Fox that supports the law — opponents will respond with their own celebrity-filled ad that will air during Game 4 of the World Series Wednesday night.

The ad, sponsored by Missourians Against Human Cloning, is likely to draw attention after Fox's ad triggered a backlash — most notably from conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, who has claimed Fox was "either off his medication or acting."

An added twist to the opponents' response is that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan appears in the ad and will be the starter Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.

Suppan, a devout Catholic, says in the ad: "Amendment 2 claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you don't read, it makes cloning a constitutional right. Don't be deceived."

The proposed amendment to the state constitution would protect embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. A referendum on Amendment 2 will be decided during congressional elections on Nov. 7. Referendums are often included in general elections as a practical matter.

Joining Suppan are celebrities such as NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, actors Jim Caviezel and Patricia Heaton, and, baseball player Mike Sweeney. Caviezel played the role of Jesus in the film, "The Passion of the Christ."

The minute-long advertisement was completed and made available on the Internet on Tuesday afternoon. It will air across Missouri in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 election, reports the St. Louis News-Dispatch.

Missourians Against Human Cloning spokeswoman Cathy Ruse said the ad was already in the works, "but we sped up production after the Michael J. Fox ad came out.

"That ad claims opponents want to criminalize research and prevent the expansion of stem cell research. Those claims are just false and misleading," Ruse said. "Our gripe with Amendment 2 is it creates a right to do human cloning and it creates the right to human egg trafficking for cloning research."

Each of the celebrities warns against the measure, with Warner saying, "Beware of loopholes" and Heaton adding that the law will encourage women to sell their eggs to fertility clinics. "Low income women will be seduced by big checks," Heaton says.

Connie Farrow, a spokeswoman for Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, a supporter of the amendment, called the opponents' ad "a pathetic attempt to distort the facts and mislead voters."

"To believe the claims made in their ad you'd have to believe that over 100 nonprofit patient and medical organizations, including the Missouri State Medical Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, just to name a few, are conspiring to mislead voters," Farrow said. "And that defies commonsense."

Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, displays the tics and twitches typically associated with the disease throughout the advertisement, which backs Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who is running for Senate and supports Amendment 2.

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and revealed his condition publicly in 1998. In 2000, he quit full-time acting because of his symptoms and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which has raised millions of dollars.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system that leaves patients increasingly unable to control their movements.

McCaskill is trying to unseat Republican incumbent James Talent, who opposes Amendment 2.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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