Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis

Lawmakers in Minnesota have given their endorsement to a University of Minnesota plan to clone human embryos for “research,” force taxpayers to pay for it, and then kill those embryos when the “research” work is finished.

The preliminary approval came on a recent 68-62 vote in which representatives rejected an amendment would be a true ban on cloning, and the “Kahn Cloning Bill, S.F. 100” could be brought up for a further vote at any time, opponents said.

The amendment provided language that would have promoted ethical adult stem cell research with a true ban on cloning human embryos, but that was rejected in favor of S.F. 100, sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis.

That plan has been described by supporters as a cloning ban, but it only bans “cloning” that results in a human being, not cloning that results in living human embryos.

“House members … had a chance to do the right thing and protect vulnerable human life, but instead they chose to treat human life as mere raw material for experimentation,” said Andrea Rau, a legislative associate with the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. “Citizens are outraged to see their taxes being spent on such unjust treatment of human life.”

At the center of the issue are the lives of the unborn embryos. WND had reported just a day earlier on GOP presidential race also-ran Gov. Mike Huckabee had endorsed Colorado’s “personhood” plan.

That would simply declare that an embryo from the moment of conception is considered a human being.

“With this amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that every human life has value. Passing this amendment will mean the people of Colorado will protect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death occurs,” Huckabee said.

The plan targets an opening created by the U.S. Supreme Court when it found, in the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, the right to an abortion. The opinion said: “(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

Several other states are pursuing the same arguments, either through legislative efforts or, such as in the cases of Georgia and Colorado, through a process that would allow citizens to move forward with protections for the unborn.

Opponents said the Minnesota legislation defines cloning as the process that results in a baby born alive, essentially leaving those lives in the embryo stage as not human.

MCCL said the Kahn plan “provides taxpayer funding for the destruction of human embryos for experiments and also the wanton creation and destruction of human life through cloning at the University of Minnesota.”

“The deadly Kahn Cloning Bill … also requires the U of M to kill all cloned human beings or face felony charges. The bill would allow millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to be used to kill living human embryos,” the group said.

“The vast majority of Americans are opposed to research that requires human cloning and the killing of human embryos,” noted Jenny Hoelscher, MCCL legislative associate. “It is difficult for taxpayers to believe that their elected officials are even considering legislation which would require such massive destruction of human life.”

In fact, a report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confirms that only one in three Americans is supportive of the idea of government funding of embryonic stem cell research.

The group noted that researchers actually call the process Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer “so you won’t know that cloning is being done.”

“They want to use cloned human embryos because if they ever develop a treatment, the stem cell line that produces it can be patented and they can reap an enormous profit,” the group said. “The cloning process is the same as for reproductive cloning but rather than placing the embryo in a womb, the stem cells are removed for experimentation, killing the embryo.”

Bill Poehler, a spokesman for MCCL, told WND his organization believes the plan being pushed by university researchers actually would violate a statute Minnesota already has on the books.

That 1973 law prohibits experimentation on any development of the human being, from fertilization on. He said the experimentation going on at the university now, with private funding, probably violates that law as well, although researchers on the payroll of research efforts have disputed that.

The Kahn Cloning Bill was approved in the state Senate last year, but just now is going through the House, under the state’s 2-year legislative session.

“We think it’s pretty radical,” Poehler told WND.

According to a recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than a dozen states have laws pertaining to human cloning.

California banned reproductive cloning in 1997, and since then
Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia have enacted similar plans.

Arizona and Missouri also have measures addressing the use of public funds for cloning, and Maryland bans the use of state stem cell research funds for reproductive cloning, the group said.

But the report said only Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota extended their laws to cover cloning for research.

California and New Jersey specifically allow cloning for research.

Pro-life organizers in Minnesota say they are aware that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has opposed the plan, instead urging lawmakers to “support ethical adult stem cell research,” but the ultimate fate of the plan isn’t certain.



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