University slams anti-abortion group for false claims about cloning

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Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, says the University of Minnesota is trying to clone human beings and is in violation of the law. The university says its research is legal and that the group is engaging in a “disinformation campaign” designed to halt stem cell research.

MCCL is going after the university in the wake of a new law passed by the Minnesota Legislature — at Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s demand — that bans taxpayer funding for human cloning.

MCCL called on the university to “cease its pursuit of human cloning and to end its violation of state law through its ongoing destruction of human embryos.”

The university says it does not engage in human cloning and that all stem cell research is legal and done with private dollars.

In a letter to MCCL, Wendy Burt, director of public and community affairs for the Academic Health Center, directed the group to “remove false statements” about the university and “issue a retraction visible to your members and the community containing the truth” about the university’s research.

MCCL shot back. “MCCL’s statements regarding the University of Minnesota’s pursuit of human cloning and its embryo-destructive research have always been accurate,” said MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach. “The university’s letter only serves to highlight its own dishonest portrayal of its efforts to clone human beings.”

But Burt says that MCCL is working to quash all stem cell research at the university. “Your characterization is irresponsible,” Burt wrote to the group. “Stem cell research is regulated by stringent federal oversight and is carried out within the strict guidelines of federal law and the National Institutes of Health.”

Burt added, “I ask that in the future you commit to ensuring any information about the university is responsible and accurate.”