John Helmberger, CEO of the Christian-based Minnesota Family Council, said on May 3 that his group is working to "rein in" the "trafficking of aborted baby parts" that are used in "fetal tissue research" at the University of Minnesota (video below).
Helmberger told Stuart Shepard of the Family Policy Alliance -- an arm of the Christian ministry Focus on the Family -- how his group was cracking down on the supposed trafficking:
We're also moving the ball forward with respect to the trafficking in aborted baby parts by our own University of Minnesota in their fetal tissue research program.
Over the course of the last several months as the videos exposing the trafficking in aborted baby parts by Planned Parenthood that has exposed that trafficking happening also with our own university.
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They were on the receiving end of those parts. they've been using them for fetal issue research and the legislation that has just been passed in our House is gong to clamp down on that trafficking and rein in the university's fetal tissue program and provide review of that program to make sure that the research is being done in a legal and ethical fashion going forward.
We're not opposed to research, we just want it to be done ethically and legally.
The heavily edited Planned Parenthood videos last year by the Center for Medical Progress, a conservative political group, did not result in any proven crimes by Planned Parenthood, which is legally entitled to reimbursement costs for procurement, storage and transport of fetal tissue to medical research organizations, Rewire reports.
Additionally, the University of Minnesota has not been involved in any illegal trafficking of aborted baby parts, but has ethically and legally procured fetal tissue for legitimate and legal scientific research.
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Minnesota state Republican Rep. Abigail Whelan, who is supported by the Minnesota Family Council, wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune in January 2016 that she and her fellow GOP lawmakers were "appalled to learn that the University of Minnesota participates in research on aborted human fetal organs."
Whelan added: "Minnesota law clearly states that aborted fetal remains must be disposed of either by cremation or burial, including those delivered to laboratories. As the university admitted to disposing of aborted baby remains as biohazard waste, we believe the university was in violation of this law."
According to Rewire, that particular law from 1990 requires hospitals and clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains.
For Whelan and her fellow lawmakers, that law means aborted fetal tissue has to be cremated or buried ASAP (which would ban the donation of fetal tissue), but to others, such as medical researchers, the burial or cremation refers to when the fetal tissue is actually disposed of (after medical research).
Whelan also wrote: "The university receives millions of taxpayer dollars each year. Given the controversial nature of this research, we believe it is the duty of the Legislature to request that the university prohibit all research on aborted human fetal organs, thereby removing itself from this controversy and respecting the moral stance of thousands of taxpaying Minnesotans."