New legislation would end Minnesota’s abortion-until-birth policy

Bill introduced today would protect unborn children who can feel pain

ST. PAUL — Legislation to protect pain-capable unborn children from the lethal violence of abortion was introduced today in the Minnesota Senate. The bill was introduced in the House on Monday. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s largest pro-life organization, strongly supports the measure.

“In recent weeks, elected officials in New York and elsewhere have shocked the rest of the nation by pushing very extreme abortion policies,” says MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. “Many Minnesotans don’t realize that our own state fails to protect unborn babies even late in pregnancy. This new bill would change that.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HF 1312 and SF 1609) is authored by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) in the House and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) in the Senate. It would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization (about 22 weeks after the last menstrual period), when scientific evidence shows that unborn children can feel pain. The bill includes an exception when abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the mother or to prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

Minnesota law currently allows abortion at any time during pregnancy and for any reason. (A 1974 law banning abortion after the point of fetal “viability” was struck down in court.) In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, 223 abortions were performed at 20 weeks gestation or later, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. A total of 85 of these abortions took place at 22 weeks or later. The latest abortion was performed at 26 weeks.

“Most people don’t support the killing of unborn children this far into pregnancy,” says Rau. “Minnesota’s abortion policy is outside the mainstream and it’s long past time for a change.”

A Marist poll conducted last month found that a solid majority of Americans favor legal protection for unborn children after 20 weeks. Similar legislation passed through the Minnesota Legislature twice in recent years, but was vetoed both times by then-Gov. Mark Dayton.

A large body of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral evidence indicates that unborn children can experience pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization. Abortions at this stage usually involve the dilation and evacuation (D & E) method, which dismembers the unborn child and removes her from the womb piece by piece. Other late abortions involve poisoning the child with a lethal injection before inducing labor.

“Human beings deserve better than this,” concludes Rau. “They deserve the protection of a just and humane and compassionate society. Even just one of these children brutally ripped apart is one too many.”