Amendment 2 Supporters Rally in Jefferson City
Spinal cord patient Jeff McCaffrey compared the current campaign for stem cell research to the campaign against polio decades ago.
"They had March of Dimes signs [that read] 'Cure polio,' and kids with leg braces," he recalled.
A car crash paralyzed McCaffrey, who considers stem cell research as his hope for the future.
"Disease and injury affect so many of us directly or indirectly and, if it's not ourselves personally, it's someone in our family or friends who has diseases or injury that has the potential to be treated by this research," he said.
Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, who is an ordained Episcopal priest, said religion is the only obstacle to passing Amendment 2.
"Cells in a petri dish in a laboratory that have never been fertilized, that have never been implanted in a potential mother and will never see the light of day, these cells are the equivalent to a little child with diabetes? I think that has to be a purely religious point of view," he said.
Opponents of the proposed constitutional amemendment said destroying human stem cells during research is taking a human life.
"It's not plant life. It's not a horse life or even in the case of 'Dolly' the sheep, we're not talking about sheep life, we're talking about human life," said Monte Shinkle, pastor of Concord Baptist Church. "So it's a very important issue for those who are pro-life."
However, religious leaders at the conference said religion is why voters should support Amendment 2.
"In my Christian tradition, we follow someone who was a healer and we have the opportunity to do healing of diseases that I encounter in my ministry everyday," said Cynthia Bumb, pastor of the Pilgrim Congregation.
"There's no question in my mind that we will find cures to many of the diseases we currently suffer from today," added McCaffrey. "It's just a matter of when and where and I want it to be now here in Missouri."
The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures said at least 100 patient groups, medical organizations and faith organizations support Amendment 2.