Minnesota Gov. Dayton vetoes cloning ban legislation

Pro-lifers sought to prevent manufacture, destruction of life for experiments

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed legislation that would have prevented the cloning of human embryos in Minnesota, and the funding of such experiments. Both pro-life measures were strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.

“MCCL was hopeful that Gov. Dayton would act to ban the senseless cloning of human beings,” said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Human dignity demands that life be respected and protected, not treated as mere raw material in laboratories.”

Legislation to ban human cloning in the state, authored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, and Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, was included in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. The language was very simple: ban all human cloning, regardless of the intended purpose for the resulting human being.

Opponents of the ban, primarily the University of Minnesota, claimed that producing a human organism by cloning and then destroying it after five to 10 days, is not cloning. However, the National Institutes of Health defines cloning as the process of combining an enucleated egg (oocyte) with a somatic (i.e. body) cell nucleus to make an embryo. Whether the cloned embryo is destroyed or allowed to live does not change the definition of cloning.

Minnesota’s 1973 Human Conceptus statute (MN Statute 145.422) prohibits “the use of a living human conceptus for any type of scientific, laboratory research or other experimentation.” Dr. John Wagner, director of the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute, admitted in testimony on March 17 that cloning creates a human conceptus:

“Once you insert a nucleus into that oocyte you get an embryo.” A cloned embryo cannot be destroyed or used for experiments without violation of the statute.

Pro-life lawmakers also added a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning to the Higher Education omnibus bill. The Legislature passed a similar ban in 2009 after learning that the University of Minnesota was considering conducting human cloning experiments with state funds (the 2009 ban must be reauthorized every two years). The human cloning funding ban would permanently prevent state taxpayer funds from being used to clone human beings.

A 2005 International Communications Research poll showed 75% of Americans strongly oppose the use of human cloning for any reason. For years, poll after poll has shown overwhelming opposition to human cloning in the United States. North and South Dakota, Michigan and Iowa are among the states that have banned human cloning.

Dayton’s vetoes today mean that the cloning of human embryos (but not their destruction) remains legal in Minnesota.

“MCCL and the state’s large majority who oppose human cloning will continue to work to establish a ban on all forms of human cloning,” Fischbach said. “Our hope is that Gov. Dayton will listen to the people and their elected officials, who want to prevent this unethical treatment of human life in our state.”

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