Abortion and lower voting ages

You can set your legislative watch by the filing of some bills and proposed constitutional amendments whenever the Legislature returns to session. Two of them made their appearance today in the legislative “inbox.”

ABORTION BAN

HF1928 would add another constitutional amendment to the ballot banning the use of state funds for abortion:


State funds shall not be used to fund abortions, except to the extent necessary for continued participation in a federal program. For purposes of this section, “abortion” means the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be

pregnant with knowledge that the termination with those means will, with reasonable

likelihood, cause the death of the fetus. “Fetus” means any individual human organism

from fertilization until birth.

Under federal law, abortions need to be publically funded when there arelife-threatening complications for the mother or fetus and cases of rape or incest.

In 1995, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that public funds are required to be used when necessary for abortions, because failing to do so violates a woman’s privacy


It is critical to note that the right of privacy under our constitution protects not simply the right to an abortion, but rather it protects the woman’s decision to abort; any legislation infringing on the decision-making process, then, violates this fundamental right. In the present case, the infringement is the state’s offer of money to women for health care services necessary to carry the pregnancy to term, and the state’s ban on health care funding for women who choose therapeutic abortions. Faced with these two options, financially independent women might not feel particularly compelled to choose either childbirth or abortion based on the monetary incentive alone. Indigent women, on the other hand, are precisely the ones who would be most affected by an offer of monetary assistance, and it is these women who are targeted by the statutory funding ban. We simply cannot say that an indigent woman’s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy is not significantly impacted by the state’s offer of comprehensive medical services if the woman carries the pregnancy to term. We conclude, therefore, that these statutes constitute an infringement on the fundamental right of privacy.

Here is the entire 1995 court ruling.

LOWERING THE VOTING AGE

Rep. Phyllis Kahn has dusted off an old proposal that changes the state and local election voting age from 18 to 16. HF1951 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow anyone in the U.S. for at least three months to vote at the lowered age:

The question submitted must be: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to allow persons 16 or more years of age to vote in state and local elections?

In the past, Kahn has noted that the state allows 14-year-olds to operate firearms and 16-year-olds to drive. She previously has said the voting age should be as low as 12.