MCCL continues pressure to force stem cell research ban in budget talks

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On Monday, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion lobby, stepped up its efforts to get a bans on abortion and funding for certain types of stem cell research included in budget negotiations aimed at ending the state shutdown. In an email alert to supporters, the group claimed that taxpayers “will be forced to pay for cloning” and urged members to contact legislators.

MCCL has already sent a letter to Republican leaders demanding that anti-abortion measures be included in the budget talks and warned legislators in statements to the press that the group was “questioning that leadership” of Republicans on abortion policy.

On Monday the group started a pressure campaign among its members.

“In 2009, pro-lifers across the state worked tirelessly and were successful in implementing a two-year ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning. This year, if the Legislature doesn’t reauthorize the ban, taxpayers will be forced to pay for cloning,” the email said (emphasis theirs).

The actual language of that ban would prohibit taxpayer funding somatic cell nuclear transfer, a type of stem cell research that creates a a blastocyst using a patient’s own cells with the purpose of making stem cells that won’t be rejected by the patient’s body.

Contrary to MCCL’s email alert, no state-funded (or privately-funded) institution is currently engaged in such research in Minnesota and the University of Minnesota had repeatedly told the media that it has no plans to initiate such research. The ban was included in a higher education budget which was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Perhaps noting the inaccuracy, the group changed the language of the email when it posted it to its blog Monday evening. Instead of “taxpayers will be forced,” the group changed the language to “can be forced.”

The email continued, “The Right to Life is the most important right of all — and Minnesota can’t move backwards in protecting human life. Call or email your legislators and make sure your voice is heard! Final decisions are being made now. Your message to your legislators can be very simple: no taxpayer dollars for human cloning! Be sure to remind your elected officials how important protecting human life is to you and that reauthorizing the ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning is the right thing to do!”

In addition to pressure from MCCL, the Minnesota Catholic Conference engaged in a similar pressure campaign on Monday, focusing on banning SCNT stem cell research, but failing to distinguish between “human cloning” and somatic cell nuclear transfer.