Bills to prohibit abortions of pain-capable unborn, ban taxpayer funded abortions advance at Minnesota Capitol

Scott Fischbach

House, Senate panels approve protective legislation backed by MCCL

ST. PAUL — Legislation to protect unborn children was approved in three key committee hearings this week at the State Capitol. The bills would prohibit abortions of unborn babies who can feel pain and ban taxpayer funded abortions; Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) strongly supports both initiatives.

“Lawmakers are carrying out the will of Minnesotans by hearing and approving these sensible bills,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. “Only the most extreme opponents of protecting life object to these measures, but they represent only a small minority of citizens.”

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S.F. 649 and H.F. 936, would prohibit abortions after the point in pregnancy at which an unborn child can feel pain, which medical evidence demonstrates is (conservatively) 20 weeks from conception. It is based on a landmark Nebraska law enacted last year, which has not been challenged in court. Authored by Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, the legislation was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services committee on Apr. 12.

Modern medicine acknowledges fetal pain. Fetal surgery is a growing medical specialty, as conditions such as spina bifida sometimes can be treated before a child is even born. Prior to these surgeries, pain medication is now routinely given to unborn patients, Rau explained in her testimony. She provided committee members with 30 pages of documentation of research studies on the ability of unborn children to feel pain at 20 weeks from conception.

“This legislation is about whether or not an unborn child who is developed to the point that he or she is capable of feeling pain is deserving of the respect and dignity that we offer to other members of our human family,” Rau said.

The ban on taxpayer funded abortions, S.F. 103 and H.F. 201, authored by Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, and Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, would end the injustice of forcing Minnesotans to pay for elective abortions. Minnesota taxpayers paid nearly $1.6 million to the abortion industry for 3,933 abortions in 2009, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). The measure was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services and House Judiciary committees on Tuesday.

Minnesota passed a law in 1978 to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. However, a lower court ruling in June 1994 struck down that ban, and the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision established a right to abortion in the Minnesota Constitution and required that taxpayers be forced to pay for abortions—one of the nation’s most extreme state policies regarding abortion.

“As a result, today nearly 32 percent of all abortions performed in Minnesota are paid for with taxpayer dollars,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Jordan Marie Bauer, who testified in support of the bill. “Minnesota taxpayers, a strong majority of whom don’t want government funds being used for abortion, have essentially helped to end the lives of nearly 55,000 unborn children—a number that grows every day.”

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