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.