Abortion emerging as major issue, lawsuit at Minnesota Capitol

After the election in November, legislative leaders discouraged talk about what social issues the new Republican majority would pursue.

“If it doesn’t have anything to do with business and jobs, it shouldn’t be our first priority. If you don’t have a job, it’s hard to be involved in an abortion rally,” Rep. Kurt Zellers, the speaker of the Minnesota House, told MPR’s Gary Eichten.

“There’s a lot of important issues and we will get to them. But the priority now is the budget, jobs, and the economy,” Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch added.

Today, a bill restricting funding for abortion was submitted to the Minnesota Senate, co-sponsored by Koch. The bill, Senate File 103, is the first anti-abortion bill of the session (I’m not counting a bill for a Choose Life license plate).


Funding for state-sponsored health programs shall not be used for funding abortions, except to the extent necessary for continued participation in a federal program. For purposes of this section, abortion has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 144.343, subdivision 3.

The bill is aimed at the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Doe vs. Gomez decision of 1995, which struck down a ban on state-funded abortions with three exceptions:


(a) The abortion is a medical necessity. “Medical necessity” means (1) the signed written statement of two physicians indicating the abortion is medically necessary to prevent the death of the mother, and (2) the patient has given her consent to the abortion in writing unless the patient is physically or legally incapable of providing informed consent to the procedure, in which case consent will be given as otherwise provided by law;

(b) The pregnancy is the result of criminal sexual conduct as defined in section 609.342, clauses (c), (d), (e)(i), and (f), and the incident is reported within 48 hours after the incident occurs to a valid law enforcement agency for investigation, unless the victim is physically unable to report the criminal sexual conduct, in which case the report shall be made within 48 hours after the victim becomes physically able to report the criminal sexual conduct; or

(c) The pregnancy is the result of incest, but only if the incident and relative are reported to a valid law enforcement agency for investigation prior to the abortion.

But the state Supreme Court struck down the ban, saying it amounted to the government interfering in a health care decision that is between a woman and her doctor:


..this court’s decision will not permit any woman eligible for medical assistance to obtain an abortion “on demand.” Rather, under our interpretation of the Minnesota Constitution’s guaranteed right to privacy, the difficult decision whether to obtain a therapeutic abortion will not be made by the government, but will be left to the woman and her doctor.

Abortion foes have long claimed — and the court acknowledged at the time — that the Minnesota decision provided guarantees beyond those conveyed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision.

The bill filed today anticipates an eventual challenge to the Minnesota Supreme Court by adding a provision that if any part of the would-be law is struck down, the rest of it remains in place.

The state Supreme Court is also more conservative now than it was in 1995.

(comments closed)

  • Bill

    Dear Republicans,

    Remember the saber rattling about keeping government out of our lives, and out of health care? Supporters of this bill, who denounce health care reform, are hypocrits. Period.

  • Heather

    With you, Bill. Plus, they would do this AND cut human services funding? I wonder how they think that will go for people.

  • momkat

    Why do Republicans want more unwanted babies and who takes care of them? Are the orphanages and foster homes all empty?

  • Elizabeth B.
  • Hannah

    Also, this is pure time- and public-money-wasting posturing, and they know it. Obviously Dayton will veto.

    This just wastes paper and allows them to get, essentially, free advertising re: how pro-life they are.

  • june m fahrmann

    Why is it republicans always say, “we want less government in peoples lives”, but continue to hammer away at the personal decision of abortion. Paradox and deception!

  • evan

    I’m with Elizabeth. I’m not a woman so its not my body, but I vomit at the arrogance of any legislator–especially men–who think it is governments role to restrict and condemn abortions. That’s just sick and wrong.

  • Progress

    ///Why do Republicans want more unwanted babies and who takes care of them? Are the orphanages and foster homes all empty?

    They might be foreseeing all the foreclosures as an opportunity for places to store them and they will get volunteers to take care of them…..volunteers and the Church. (“Them” referring to the orphaned babies) They can use the back yards as community gardens and when the babies get old enough to hold a hose they can teach them a service or how to make an income.

  • momkat

    @Progress. Exactly!

  • GregS

    Bob posted the following comment to the Should Minnesota add a gun rights amendment to its constitution? thread.

    “Can we please retire the tired old rhetoric on both sides of this issue. We’ve all heard this before.

    Everyone say something new.

    Posted by Bob Collins | January 21, 2011 6:05 AM”

    In that spirit I will refrain from adding a conservative voice to the usual prattling.

  • Bob Collins

    Saying something new has nothing to do with conservative vs. liberal. Nothing at all.

  • Bob Collins

    One of the interesting aspects of this will be how the challenge is constructed and how the Supreme Court considers it (assuming the governor vetoes it and the legislature overrides it).

    Stare Decisis debate, anyone?

  • GregS

    Good, then it is okay to respond.

    Dear Liberals,

    The primary purpose of government is to protect human life. The state has the same right to prevent an abortion as it does to prevent a domestic assault or an honor killing.

    A woman has no more the right to murder a child than a husband has to murder a wife or a family has to murder one of its members to defend its honor.

    Privacy of one individual does not extend to the death of another.

    At the instant of conception, a new and unique instance of human DNA is formed. It is then a human life as fully deserving of protection from the state as any other instances of human life.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Should we be really be shocked that Republicans would one day cut funding for abused living children, and the next day try to cut funding for contraception in the form of abortions – many of which would likely reduce future child abuse?

    Please explain to me again why they people are not heartless scum.

  • GregS

    “Why do Republicans want more unwanted babies and who takes care of them? Are the orphanages and foster homes all empty?”

    Please bring your world-view into the first quarter of the 21st century. These days there is a very, very, very long line and very, very, very expensive process to adopt a healthy baby of any race or gender.

    Older children with mental or physical problems are harder to place but I am not quite sure how abortion addresses this problem unless we are talking about abortion-after-the-fact-of-birth.

  • GregS

    “Should we be really be shocked that Republicans would one day cut funding for abused living children – Jim Shapiro”

    1) Only in liberal fantasy-land does a static budget equate to a cut.

    2) The availability of low-cost, legal contraception INCREASED the number of unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children, a fact extensively documented in The Great Disruption by Francis Fukuyama and confirmed by social scientist from England, Sweden, Germany, etc.

  • GregS

    Stare Decisis is the legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions.

    It is merely a principle not a construct of law embedded in the constitution.

    I am glad of that…. It is good to know that The Dred Scott Decision might one day have been overturned had the civil war not taken place.

  • Jim Shapiro

    GregS – You’re technically correct: Thanks to Republican policy, abused children were already being neglected. The new decision simply means that abused children will CONTINUE to be neglected. Feel better?

    Regarding “The availability of low-cost, legal contraception INCREASED the number of unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children…”

    Interesting, and counter-intuitive.

    Thanks for the info.

    But is not our – and thus our government’s -responsibility to care for LIVING CHILDREN in need?

    Scientific and ethical debates over when life begins aside, so-called “Pro-Lifers” are in reality nothing more than anti-free choice abortion foes – unless they act consistantly to help living children.

  • progress

    //Dear Liberals,

    The primary purpose of government is to protect human life. The state has the same right to prevent an abortion as it does to prevent a domestic assault or an honor killing.

    Hey,

    Ya ‘sposin’ the victims of those honor killings (as horrible and wrong as they sound) may be the result of an unwanted child?

  • GregS

    “GregS – You’re technically correct: Thanks to Republican policy, abused children were already being neglected. The new decision simply means that abused children will CONTINUE to be neglected. Feel better? – Jim Shapiro:

    If children are being abused, it is a failure of Social Service Agencies to prioritize their mission. Abuse is an exigent circumstance and must be handled first, before money is spent on anything else, including meetings, conferences, and golf-vacation for senior staff.

    We do not have a problem funding social services and education in this state, 70% of our budget is spent on those two items.

    If you cannot find funds for abused kids in $30 billion we spend on social services and education, well then…. there is nothing to talk about.

    Personally, if you asked me where the money should come from to save abused kids, I would suggest you quit allowing civil servants to retire after 30 years then collect a full pension and return to work as a Rule 10.

    Oh, but AFSME and MAPE might have something to say about that – ya think.

    Once you get them to give – you can start pointing fingers at Republicans.

    I have worked for civil service for almost three decade and I personally know at least two dozen people who are double dipping pensions and earning more money in retirement than they did while employed.

    How do you explain that to abused kids who need funding?

  • GregS

    “Ya ‘sposin’ the victims of those honor killings (as horrible and wrong as they sound) may be the result of an unwanted child? – progress”

    Uh, I doubt you know what an honor killing is.

    And no, I do not suppose victims of honor killings are unwanted children. It don’t work that way.

  • Progress

    //Uh, I doubt you know what an honor killing is.

    Enlighten me.

  • GregS

    “Enlighten me”

    Sorry, I am not up to the challenge. I doubt I could get through to someone who believes that people would “keep” an “unwanted” child.

    Children are expensive and time consuming. It has been my experience that folks give away expensive and time consuming things that they do not want, especially when there is a high demand for the item.

    Try Googling on the key words “honor killings”. You may find something helpful in the thousands of results.

  • Al Heebsh

    I’d like the MCCL take on all life issues, rather than being anti-abortion but falsely using the title of ‘pro-life’. When will they denounce military funding with as much gusto as they denounce abortion? I don’t want my tax money being used to take lives. When is the government going to stop using my tax money to build bombs? Why does the MCCL support candidates who support our overwhelming military force whose primary purpose is to kill?