Abortion bills clear Senate, headed for vetoes

Supporters of abortion rights demonstrated against two bills outside of the Minnesota Senate chamber. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

The Minnesota Senate voted Thursday to ban state-funded abortions and to establish new licensing and inspection requirements for abortion clinics.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has promised to veto both bills when they reach his desk. The House passed the same bills last week.

The prohibition bill, which passed by a 35-29 vote, applies to state-sponsored health care programs, specifically the Medical Assistance program.

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said she doesn’t consider it benevolent for the state to pay for abortions.

“Taking lives of unborn children, especially through Medical Assistance, means that those who are low income and minorities will end up having more abortions, losing the lives of their unborn children at a higher rate and an increasingly higher rate,” Kiffmeyer said.

Opponents argued that the bill is discriminatory and likely unconstitutional.

Women have a right to reproductive health care, regardless of their financial situation, said Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul.

“I don’t believe that politicians should be able to deny a woman’s health coverage just because she is poor,” Pappas said.

Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, rejected Pappas’ argument. He said that the death of an unborn child is worse than discrimination, and he doesn’t want tax dollars involved.

“You know what, these are people too,” Hall said.

Under the licensing bill, which also passed 35-29, clinics that perform 10 or more abortions per month would be charged a $365 fee every two years. They would be required to meet the standards of a national organization that accredits abortion facilities.

The bill does not name a specific organization. But the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said the National Abortion Federation is one potential source of guidelines.

“This bill relies on the abortion industry itself,” Fischbach said.

The state health commissioner would be responsible for licensing and inspections.

Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, said the data collected through the application process is a potential safety threat for people who work in those clinics.

“It is very unfortunate that we would set a bill into place that would further jeopardize the staff that are  just there to provide health care,” Schoen said.

Dayton vetoed similar bills in the past. He said again Thursday that he will do the same this session.

“I oppose both of them and will continue to oppose them and will continue to say I will veto them if they’re in any bill,” Dayton said.

  • gus

    Republicans will not give up on limiting reproductive rights even when they know their hours of wasted time at public expense will result in vetoes.

    • Playablanca1

      Then we must vote them out!

    • SaInRu

      It is apparent more and more that they have become the party of single issue, which, is centered around religion.

      Personally, they should stop referring to themselves as republican or conservative, and identify themselves as religious zealots wishing for a theocracy.

      They are as much a part of identity politics as those they accuse.

      • ladyalice11

        This is a matter of humanity!

        • SaInRu

          Yes it is.
          Removing a woman’s right and control of her body is very inhumane.

    • ladyalice11

      Since when is killing the unborn a “reproductive right!”

      • SaInRu

        Ever since situations where the necessity of abortion should remain between a patient and their doctor.

        It is that person’s right to make decisions that best fits them and their circumstance. That’s not your decision, or the government’s.

        I’d go further, but your simplistic view may hinder your ability to understand the complexity of the issue beyond knee-jerk statements like “killing the unborn”. If it were a simple issue, there wouldn’t be a debate.

        I hope you are able to someday see the greater complexity of abortion and reproductive rights.

        Take care and I wish you well.