Minnesota Capitol. Photo: Paul Weimer, Flickr
Minnesota Capitol. Photo: Paul Weimer, Flickr

GOP pressed for abortion, stem cell research bans during budget negotiations

On eve of shutdown, MCCL pushed agenda
By Andy Birkey
Friday, July 01, 2011 at 10:35 am

During budget negotiations the week before Friday’s government shutdown, Republican leaders pressed Gov. Mark Dayton to include a ban on abortions at 20 weeks gestation, a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions and a ban on some forms of stem cell research. Even as the shutdown of Minnesota government had begun, the principal anti-abortion lobby, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, continued to push its agenda.

MinnPost’s Doug Grow notes that the controversial issues were included in budget talks:

In the end, Republicans and Dayton weren’t only separated by fiscal issues. Republicans apparently were still loading bills with other goodies from their platform. In the final days of negotiations, Republicans were still insisting on legislation supporting voter ID and restrictions on abortion and stem cell research in their talks with Dayton.

After the talks had collapsed, Koch said those were matters that could have been “hammered out” with just a bit more negotiating. Fiscal issues were the key divide, she said.

The Star Tribune noted the same:

Talks may have also broken down because an earlier GOP offer asked Dayton to accept controversial policy positions the Republicans pushed for this year, including photo ID requirements at the polls and abortion restrictions. An offer sheet provided to the Star Tribune said the policy adoptions were in exchange for “new revenue in a compromise offer.”

On Thursday, as last-ditch efforts at a budget deal were being negotiated, MCCL pressed for a renewed ban on somatic cell nuclear transfer, a method used in stem cell research and a technique the group calls “human cloning.”

“The 2009 Legislature ushered through a session law provision that provided for a two-year ban on state funding of all forms of human cloning. Because this provision expires on June 30, MCCL has supported legislative efforts to either ban human cloning or to enact a statutory prohibition on taxpayer funding of human cloning,” the group said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Both of these efforts were ultimately included in omnibus bills and vetoed by Gov. Dayton. If no language is included in the final budget agreement, Minnesota’s established pro-life policy on human cloning will end and Minnesota taxpayers can legally be forced to fund human cloning and human cloning experimentation.”

The group had been pushing the ban on some forms of stem cell research all session.

And by Friday morning, about 9 hours into the state government shutdown, MCCL was urging a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions on Twitter.

“MN taxpayers have paid $17 million for elective abortions since the MN Supreme Court forced the state to fundi abortions,” the group wrote, including a link to its legislative page on the issue.

Sen. Tom Bakk told Minnesota Public Radio on Friday morning that it was shameful that the GOP included “things like restricting a women’s right to choose, things like making it a crime for the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic to do stem cell research.”

“There was this huge list of things they just had to have to even borrow money,” he said of the final negotiations where the GOP wanted to shift education funding down the road and borrow from future tobacco settlement money.

He said that even former Gov. Tim Pawlenty demanded social policy be removed from budget negotiations during his tenure.

Also included were the GOP’s redistricting plan and voter ID. Here’s the GOP’s budget negotiation document obtained by the Star Tribune:

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Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 10:39 am

Back door manipulations by the American Taliban. The Governor said no. Good for him.

Praise Jebus, God hates factions, Amen.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 11:06 am

Holding the state economy hostage to continue Right Wing social engineering! These people have NO ethics or morals.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 11:49 am

Welcome to Dark Ages !!

* Religion trumps science..
* Religion infects our body of politics..
* Tax the poor..
* Punish the electorate and not the corporate oligarchy..
* Silence the minority voice and paint them as “savages”

Good job Republikans !! Let’s pass a bill that re-names our State “Miinne-ssippi” The North Star State is truly dead …

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 11:55 am

Lord knows the rich need their proliferating limousines and the party buses for the kids! Don’t let them suffer too much for the pariah poor people.

Might as well sneak their goodies in there, for we all know photo ID’s and avoiding abortions are more important than letting poor, elderly, and disabled people live.

As if they are all so, so holy. GOP Christian fundamentalists need to take a hard look in the mirror, because last I checked, God don’t like ugly.

Really, GOP??

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

I noticed they put what the politely termed collective bargaining reforms in their demands. We know what that means: an assault on the right to organize. Well, guess that fits with the assault on women’s rights and the assault on voting rights. Apparently, rights we thought we had inherently actually are reserved for Republicans only.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

My God these idiots really are the new MN Taliban! Holding the state hostage because of stem cell research????? I can’t imagine that’s going to play very well with the majority of Minnesotans, but with the way our mainstream media works, they will probably barely mention it or it will be so buried in the stories most people won’t notice it.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

Who cares about lifesaving stem cell research? Who cares about rights?

Who cares about public buses for those lazy elderly and disabled people?

More limos and party buses, stat! Little Susie and Johnny need to get to Crave this weekend!

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

I’m not about to argue that it’s right or fair for the GOP to bring issues like abortion and cloning into budget reform…it’s ridiculous, but Democrats do it too, all the time, with their issues. But I do have a problem with some ignorant and biased aspects of this article:

I know the writer may disagree with the GOP (Lord knows I do on many, many issues), but to write certain parts of this article–particularly the cloning aspect–as if the GOP are out of their minds is stupid. It’s typical “not actually thinking” liberal. Here is the definition of somatic cell nuclear transfer:

“In genetics and developmental biology, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a laboratory technique for creating a clonal embryo, using an ovum with a donor nucleus. It can be used in embryonic stem cell research, or, potentially, in regenerative medicine where it is sometimes referred to as “therapeutic cloning”. It can also be used as the first step in the process of reproductive cloning.”

The debate around abortion/life is not whether an embryo is human. It is. This is a scientific fact based on reproductive cells, chromosomes, and DNA (the blueprint for everything that individual will become) — all of which are present at the moment of conception when male/female genetics combine. The debate centers on when to VALUE this as a human life, and this is where people actually CAN have fair value differences.

Apart from the embryo factor of somatic cell nuclear transfer (obviously abortion opponents will not want cloned embryos to be killed…that is the whole point), there is a MAJOR other issue, and that is cloning. Watch the movie “The Island” and read the book “Never Let Me Go,” and then come back and act like people who have concerns of this issue are stupid. It’s a big deal, for good reason.

You can be socially liberal, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore other opinions and write ignorant articles. Take some responsibility for your job, and try to be balanced.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:28 pm


We need mass media to really really hone in on this one, they need to know how and why Dayton is holding strong.

I know people personally affected by this “strike” and its going to hurt big time.

Andy Birkey
Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

Matt, I think you should look at my previous reporting on the stem cell issue. It may clear things up for you:

My writing on this issue has been and will continue to be based on the science surrounding this issue. I don’t think anything in my article presents the GOP as stupid.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

Matt, I hear you on that. There are legitimate concerns in that area and I think people need to talk about them. I don’t agree with everything my fellow liberals do or say.

Still, this is not really about that. It’s about the GOP sparing the richest while wiping out the safety net for people who have no other way to live, during a time of economic depression, no less.

Even if Dems pull power plays sometimes, does not make it ok what the Republicans are doing right now.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

I don’t think recommending science fiction films as science fact helps anyone. That’s like offering up ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ as proof that intelligent computers are bad idea.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

Shame on the Republicans!!!

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

Excellent piece Andy, thanks for not including their junk science as part of the dialogue. As always, MN Independent remains at the forefront in true journalism.

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

This should make us all very nervous about the upcoming limit on the debt ceiling. If Repubs are willing to shut down the state so that millionaires can pay less taxes than the rest of us as well as stop stem cell research, then I have no doubt they’d allow the U.S. to default on its loans over the exact same issues.

Jeff Wilfahrt
Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

In any other arena these GOPers would be guilty of extortion, a Federally recognized offense.

Jeff Wilfahrt, Rosemount, MN

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
Oscar Wilde
Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

Can you confirm whether the budget negotiation document that is on the Star Tribune website is the ‘final’ document presented to Dayton on June 30th? On MPR today, Zellers said Bakk was lying about what in the Republicans’ final hour offer to Dayton. This document backs up Bakk’s version of events.

That said, even if there was something handed to Dayton at the last minute, this document confirms that the Republicans had no intention of negotiating the budget in good faith.

Paul V
Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

What does that have to do with this thread?

Comment posted July 1, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

incredible story– I think the GOP dominance of the legislature will be painful but short-lived.

Comment posted July 2, 2011 @ 12:38 am

all these requirements are in the A.L.E.C. playbook. All the State members who belong to A.L.E.C should but exposed and ran out of the state. Mary Kiffermyer is the MN Chapter President. I’m sure a reporter can get the list from her.

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