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Missouri Family E-News August 30, 2010

Koster Renews Challenge to Craigslist

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has joined attorneys general from across the country demanding that Craigslist remove the "adult services" section of its website. Koster has sent a letter along with 16 other attorneys general to both the chief executive officer and founder of Craigslist. In the letter, the attorneys general assert that "ads for prostitution--including ads trafficking children, are rampant" on the website. "Because Craigslist cannot, or will not, adequately screen these ads, it should stop accepting them altogether and shut down the Adult Services section." Craigslist had previously promised that it would monitor its website to remove posted advertisements for sexual solicitation. In the meantime, company officials have done virtually nothing to stem the use of its site for sexual encounters and sexual trafficking. The letter from the attorneys general cites a recent story by CNN reporter Amber Lyon. She posted a fictional prostitution advertisement on the Craigslist "adult services" section, and within three hours had received 15 telephone calls soliciting sex. Child advocates have described Craigslist as the "Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking." The correspondence from the attorneys general references a letter sent to the company recently by two girls who say they were trafficked for sex through Craigslist. Their letter shared horrifying stories of assault and brutality suffered by them, and other innocent children. Koster and his peers insist that there is no excuse for keeping the ''adult services" section in operation. "We recognize that Craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by these ads. No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of women and children who will continue to be victimized in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist." Craigslist offers free online classified ads for jobs, housing, personal items, and so-called "personals" ads. The company is headquarter in San Francisco. It is estimated that its website experiences over 20 billion page views per month. Annual revenues for the company are believed to exceed $150 million.

Judge Upholds New Missouri Law Regulating Sex Industry

A Cole County circuit judge has denied a legal motion to block the enforcement of Missouri's new law regulating sexually oriented businesses. Judge Jon Beetem ruled against a request for a temporary restraining order filed by attorneys for sex businesses around the state. The lawsuit was a last-minute effort to suspend enforcement of the law adopted by the General Assembly this year and signed by Governor Jay Nixon which took effect on Saturday. That law establishes new restrictions on the operation of nude dancing clubs and so-called "adult video stores" and "adult video arcades." Lawyers for the sex industry in Missouri had argued that the new law violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, and that their businesses would suffer a significant loss of revenues. Beetem ruled that "economic loss alone does not alter the analysis of the legal issues surrounding the Plaintiff's constitutional challenges." He refused their request for an injunction against the law until a hearing could be heard on its merits, saying the plaintiffs had failed to prove that they were likely to succeed in their claims. In fact, the prospect of the sex businesses succeeding in court are very poor. The new Missouri law was drafted to reflect federal appellate court decisions which permit states and local governments to regulate the negative secondary effects on communities of strip clubs and "adult" video stores and arcades. Missouri's new law bans totally nude dancing and prohibits contact between dancers and patrons. The law forbids alcohol on the premises, and the presence of minors. No sexually oriented business can be located within 1000 feet of any school, church, day care center, public park, personal residence, or another sexually oriented business. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has done an admirable job to date defending Missouri's law. He has worked in close collaboration with attorney Scott Bergthold, a nationally recognized authority on this subject, who played a leading role in drafting the legislation.
Obama Administration Continues Push for Embryo Research

The Obama Administration has announced that it will press for continuing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The announcement comes on the heels of a federal district court decision enjoining federal guidelines authorizing research on human embryos.
State Attorney, Chris KosterU.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that regulations governing embryonic stem cell research adopted by the National Institutes of Health are in violation of a federal law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. That law prohibits the use of federal funds for research in which "human embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." Lamberth concluded that the NIH guidelines violate the Dickey-Wicker Amendment "because embryonic stem cell research depends on the destruction of a human embryo." Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama Administration will appeal Lamberth's injunction.
State Attorney, Chris Koster Shortly after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order revoking guidelines for embryonic stem cell research developed by the Bush administration. President Bush had limited taxpayer-funded research to 21 colonies of embryonic stem cells already in existence and prohibited research on any new stem cell lines. Since NIH has issued the new guidelines, 75 additional colonies of embryonic stem cells have been approved for research funding. Embryonic stem cell lines are often derived from "surplus embryos" created through in vitro fertilization procedures.
State Attorney, Chris KosterTony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, hailed Lamberth's decision. "[The judge's ruling] is a stinging rebuke to the Obama Administration and its attempt to circumvent sound science and federal law, which clearly prohibits federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. Embryonic stem cell research is irresponsible and scientifically unworthy." "Rather than fund additional embryo-destructive research, the government should focus its resources on adult stem cells that are already improving health and saving the lives of patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury and many other conditions.
State Attorney, Chris KosterThere is great potential in this country for stem cell research and treatments for many diseases, while maintaining ethical standards." Dr. David Prentice, a nationally known authority on the subject of stem cell research, says that there are nearly 80 different diseases and injuries and conditions where adult stem cells have already shown results improving patient health. "There are already published scientific results from a number of patients where adult stem cells from the patients have gotten patients movement, sensation, even walking again--but it's only with adult stem cells."

State Attorney, Chris KosterSteven Aden, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says Lamberth's decision is good news for American taxpayers. "The American people should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life. The court is simply enforcing a law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos. No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless." The impact of the decision on the state of Missouri is unclear. Don Rubin, chairman of the so-called Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, says the ruling could have implications for "a handful" of embryonic stem cell research projects at Washington University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Rubin's group campaigned successfully in 2006 for Amendment 2, the state constitutional amendment that provides legal protection for the cloning and destruction of human embryos in Missouri.

State Attorney, Chris KosterHowever, the ruling is expected to have little impact on the activities of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, where the research is funded by private donors and where no federal funds are reportedly received. Stowers contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Amendment 2 campaign to maintain their research objective of cloning and killing human embryos. Recent developments in California demonstrate the folly of government investment in embryonic stem cell research. In 2004 California voters approved Proposition 71, a $3 billion bond issue to finance ESCR. Yet press accounts reveal that California officials have been quietly diverting the funds from ESCR to adult stem cell research. Investors Business Daily had this to say: "Five years after a budget-busting $3 billion was allocated to embryonic stem cell research, there have been no cures, no therapies, and little progress. ESCR has failed to deliver and backers of Prop 71 are admitting failure." Medical research has shifted its focus to induced pluripotent stem cells. In this research, scientists "reprogram" adult stem cells to resemble embryonic stem cells without the need to destroy human embryos in the process.

State Attorney, Chris KosterBernadine Healy, the director of the National Institutes of Health in the Bush Administration, says that "embryonic stem cells, once thought to hold the cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes, are obsolete."

State Attorney, Chris KosterDorinda Bordlee, senior counsel for the Bioethics Defense fund, sums it up. "Human life should never be treated as raw materials for scientific experiments--and failed experiments at that--since embryonic stem cells have never been used to help even one patient." Jaci Winship, former executive director of Missourians Against Human Cloning, says the federal court ruling provides a platform for re-educating the public about the issue. "This decision has spotlighted the Obama Administration's unlawful and unwarranted effort to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. This research is unethical, unnecessary, and unproven. That statement is as true today as it was four years ago when we fought the deceptive travesty of Amendment 2. For more information on the subject of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, you can check out these resources from the Family Research Council at this link: Family Research Council
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