10/02/2006

but the website looks so welcoming

(P) I just saw a TV ad against the Missouri Stem Cell vote (amendment 2). Well, at least, it was sort of against the vote.

It didn't oppose the amendment directly. Rather, through a crying woman sitting on a bed, it ran the gambit of fear and manipulation and abuse of women about donating eggs and cloning and stem cell research and everything else. The ad starts off with the woman reflecting that she just needed money for college (as if the pro-life donors behind such advertising campaigns would actually fund major scholarship programs for poor women to attend college, but that's neither here nor there) so she sold some eggs, and it goes downhill from there.

So what is this, at best, misleading and deceptive group quite willing to employ the most desperate tugs at heartstrings through the use of a crying woman reflecting on pain which the amendment doesn't even cause? Actually, it's the Vitae Foundation. Their website seems so positive, with its clean lines and calm, uplifting prose.

"Vitae believes in the power of the message. Educational messages that are respectful, helpful, and encourage dialogue in a non-threatening manner, have become the hallmark of the Vitae success." "Reaching minds...saving lives" And so on. I'm not familiar with the group, but if it really is a moderate group trying to reach people, the ad buy they made is sure going to ruin that effort and just make people like me all the more cynical about such groups. And interestingly, they post several TV ads on their website, but I couldn't find the one I just saw. Perhaps they don't want people to know they're running it? [Or it might just be a new one that coincidentally hasn't made it up on their server yet, of course, too.]

If this is the best message they can come up with that is educational, respectful, and helpful, then I feel quite comforted that amendment 2 is going to pass by a landslide. For goodness sakes, they've got Oliver North on their website saying the group saves lives. He's not responsible for anything morally questionable, is he?

I can't believe Senator Talent, in a closely contested election where he claims to be in touch with Missouri voters, who actually worked at Wash U, one of the most ardent supporters of this, is on record opposing the amendment. It would be really ironic if the stem cell issue brought enough people out to vote to bring down Talent in a state Bush won both times.

Of course, this summer Talent also removed his name as a consponsor from the Senate anti-cloning bill, so maybe he's really just another one of those wishy washy rich Chesterfield Republican types whose moral compass doesn't point much farther than navigating elections? Is that too harsh Professor? Plenty of time before now and November to prove me wrong and stand up for something, anything, really, beyond the evilness of cold medicine.

Addendum: I just saw it again, and I realized one of the more subtle things that really bothered me. The website makes a claim that they try to target their message, in particular reaching younger women of child-bearing age. Well, I am watching a Monday Night Football game in St. Louis between Green Bay and Philadelphia. I would love to see the demographic data that says that's a prime use of dollars for such a purpose. But then again, that's part of what really gets me so riled up. It is the perfect demographic for them. This ad is not targeted at women at all, who know a lot more about fertility issues generally than men. It's targeted at men who aren't as familiar about what's involved with the process of selling/donating eggs to fertility clinics while watching a program that gets the hormones running a little. And then it takes genuine concern for women and uses it to instill guilt and a sense of needing to protect this sweet little innocent girl who just didn't know how horrible it all is. I find that appalling, not only in the sexist sense that women need to be protected (and protected from whom is an interesting question itself, from immoral liberals who think women should have to sell their eggs in order to pay for college?), but also that the group decided to attack a rather peripheral and insignificant aspect of the debate as it applies to the particular Missouir initiative. It's not about new eggs at all. The moral issue is about whether one believes that future humans are prevented from coming into being by stem cell research. The fact that the ad completely ignores the main thrust of the debate, I would suggest, is a huge indict of those who say it's an immoral practice which the state should actively prohibit. After all, if they were confidant that people were sympathetic to that line of reasoning, that's what the ad would be about.

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