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Minnesota GOP pressed for abortion, stem cell bans during budget talks

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.”

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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