Abortion opponents lose appeal on UM’s fetal tissue

Published 8:19 am Friday, August 24, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Abortion rights opponents who challenged the University of Minnesota’s use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research have lost an appeal.

The state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the lawsuit filed in 2016 by Pro-Life Action Ministries is moot because while the case was pending, the Legislature clarified the law to allow the research, the Star Tribune reported.

The lawsuit argued that the university was violating a decades-old law that said using aborted fetal remains was restricted to tests necessary for the health of a woman, her future children or a criminal investigation.

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The court noted that a 2017 law allows fetal tissue research as long as it’s approved by the Fetal Tissue Research committee, a university oversight panel.

Under the law, a university researcher who wants to use aborted fetal tissue must provide a written explanation to the FTR justifying the use.

The university’s fetal tissue research was called into question in 2016 when a university spokesman denied it was occurring on campus but later acknowledged it was.

Among other things, researchers use fetal tissue in pursuit of treatments for HIV, diabetes, dementia and spinal-cord injuries.

The university is committed to conducting critical research in an “ethical, respectful and lawful manner,” said university spokesman Chuck Tombarge.

“We appreciate the court’s guidance at this important intersection of medical research and law,” he said.

An attorney for the anti-abortion group didn’t immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.