A look back at the 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session

By Leo F. LaLonde, President, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life

Minnesota State Sen. Michelle Fischbach

Minnesota State Sen. Michelle Fischbach

The 2017 legislative session has ended with the passage of several new pro-life policies, bringing encouragement to pro-life citizens after two significant pro-life bills were vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The Higher Education omnibus bill authored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, and Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, contains multiple changes welcomed by pro-lifers.

Fetal tissue research

Fetal tissue research at the University of Minnesota will face increased scrutiny under new state policy (Article 2, Sec. 19 and 27) originally authored by Rep. Abigail Whelan, R-Ramsey. The U of M must receive approval from an institutional review board prior to conducting fetal tissue research, and must seek to use tissue sources from fetuses that have died of natural causes rather than from abortion.

The new law directs the Board of Regents to report to the Legislature the steps it has taken to implement these fetal tissue research policies. It also requires the legislative auditor to conduct a review of fetal tissue research activities at the U of M.

Parenting college students

Information about parenting rights and resources must now be provided to pregnant and parenting students at post-secondary institutions in the state under a new Higher Education provision. A grant program will fund services and activities to support these students.

‘Webcam abortion’ reporting

The Health & Human Services omnibus bill authored by Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, and Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, requires abortion providers to report “webcam abortions,” in which an abortion drug is prescribed from a remote location via webcam. The new directive (Article 10, Sec. 95) was originally authored by Rep. Whelan. Legislators agreed that this method of abortion, in which the woman is not examined in person by the abortionist, needs to be reported separately in the state’s annual abortion report released July 1.

Minnesota State Rep. Bud Nornes

Minnesota State Rep. Bud Nornes

Planned Parenthood began offering webcam abortions at its Rochester facility in 2011. MCCL helped to pass legislation banning dangerous webcam abortions in 2012; it was vetoed by Gov. Dayton.

“Minnesota is one of only three or four states in which women have received powerful abortion drugs by merely talking with an abortionist in another city via a computer monitor,” said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. “This increases the risks that drug-induced abortions pose for women. The new law will shed light on the practice and frequency of these abortions in Minnesota.”

Earlier in the 2017 session, MCCL helped to pass bills to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion and to require licensing and inspections of abortion facilities. Both were vetoed by Dayton.

Thank you for all your support of lifesaving legislation.