Pro-life bills pass narrowly on Senate floor, await governor’s desk

| May 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

After hearing a slew of protests in the background and an afternoon of rebuttals, the pro-life majority in the Minnesota Senate won out in passing two pieces of legislation May 4.

A bill to eliminate taxpayer funding of abortions passed 35-29. The bills passed in the House April 24. The bills met resistance from multiple senators claiming that a woman “has a right to choose” abortion.

Sen. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul Park, who defended the services at abortion provider Planned Parenthood, took it a step further. Addressing his 11-year-old daughter while looking directly at one of TV cameras in the chamber he said, “I, your dad, am always going to be on your side of your choice.”

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, who authored House File 809, emphasized that the legislation would only take away taxpayer funding for abortions, not the option for women to have one. She also said Minnesotans take on the entire burden of taxes for abortion since the federal government hasn’t required it since the Hyde Amendment.

Kiffmeyer also pointed to polls showing that even pro-abortion advocates don’t want to pay for abortions with taxes.

“Of note, up to 62 percent in the poll that said they were pro-choice, those 62 percent were opposed to using taxpayer dollars for abortions that take the life of an unborn child,” Kiffmeyer said.
Tax funds go through Minnesota Medical Assistance to allow for low-income women to obtain abortions, which derived from the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court trial Doe v. Gomez. Conversely, Medical Assistance can also provide full coverage for prenatal care, which the program had done long before Doe v. Gomez.

“Matter of fact, Minnesotans do not want their taxpayer dollars used by the court that takes the life of an unborn child, the most vulnerable amongst us [and] the most innocent amongst us,” Kiffmeyer said.

Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, presented her bill, HF 812, on requiring licensure and inspections of abortion facilities as one that follows from existing medical regulations. Abortion facilities would be held to its industry’s standards for safety, and licensure is normally require of other medical providers in Minnesota. It also passed 35-29.

“This is about patient safety and about making sure that Minnesotans are served properly in those clinics,” Fischbach said.

Opposing senators threw out multiple challenges such as the abortion workers’ privacy and safety in addition to the bill’s amendment requiring the patient to be informed of abortion’s risks.

Sen. Susan Kent, D-Woodbury, argued the licensing is unnecessary and that abortion is a safe procedure. She added that other procedures with risks such as colonoscopies don’t receive this kind of licensure.

Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, defended the bill, saying it “does not attack abortion clinics. This bill does not try to put them out of business.”

Supporters of Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion provider, went on the defense in the morning, flanking the entrance of the senate chamber and chanting loudly for their interests 25 minutes before the morning session began and early into the proceedings. The senate had the pro-life legislation set for discussion in the afternoon.

Opposing senators often argued that the bills weren’t worth pursuing since Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would veto any pro-life legislation. Kiffmeyer told her fellow senators that Dayton’s plan shouldn’t stop them from pushing the bills.

Kiffmeyer said “to vote your conscience is worth it.”

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