DFL Rep. Richardson votes to fund own organization; bill puts newborns, elderly, pregnant women at risk
By Paul Stark, Communications Director, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life
ST. PAUL — Yesterday the Minnesota House approved a budget bill that would repeal a bipartisan measure protecting the lives of newborns, repeal a bipartisan program supporting pregnant women in difficult circumstances, and create a new commission with the power to impose caps on health care spending that could lead to rationing of care for the most vulnerable patients. Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) voted for the bill even though it funds the organization she leads, Planned Parenthood North Central States.
“Rep. Richardson’s vote seems like a conflict of interest, and just one more sign of how far DFL lawmakers are going,” said MCCL Co-Executive Director Cathy Blaeser. “This extreme and sweeping bill is a threat to human life at every stage. Newborn babies deserve lifesaving care. Pregnant women should not be left without help. And an unelected board should not make spending decisions that will ration care for elderly, disabled, and chronically ill Minnesotans. The House Omnibus Health bill fails to safeguard and support human life in all of these ways and more.”
The bill, SF 2995, passed on a 69-58 vote. Among other things, it would do the following:
- create a government-appointed commission empowered to limit spending by hospitals, doctors’ groups, and nursing homes; this would inevitably lead to rationing of lifesaving medical treatment for the most vulnerable Minnesotans
- strip out Minnesota’s existing requirement that reasonable measures be taken to “preserve the life and health” of born-alive infants, replacing it with a requirement for “care,” which the bill’s author, Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), described as mere “comfort” care
- repeal the Positive Alternatives Act that has provided practical assistance and support for tens of thousands of pregnant women and new mothers in local communities all across Minnesota
- increase reimbursement rates for tax-funded abortions (while defunding the Positive Alternatives grant program that offers alternatives)
repeal longstanding laws ensuring informed consent prior to abortion and requiring the reporting of basic abortion data to the Department of Health
The bill provides a 20 percent increase in reimbursements for family planning and abortion at facilities like Planned Parenthood (starting at line 50.8 in the bill). Rep. Richardson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, voted against an amendment to remove the increased funding. She also voted for final passage of the bill (with the funding included). When asked by Rep. Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) how much Planned Parenthood would gain from the new funding, Rep. Richardson did not provide a response.
The House DFL majority voted down numerous amendments, including amendments to remove the health commission, to restore protection for newborns, and to restore the Positive Alternatives program. In support of repealing the protection for infants, Rep. Liebling falsely suggested that the repealed law requires inappropriate or futile attempts to save the infants’ lives. Instead, the law simply requires “reasonable measures consistent with good medical practice.”
“The legislature and the governor have already enacted abortion-up-to-birth,” said Blaeser. “That wasn’t enough for DFL lawmakers. Now they are revoking protection from all born-alive infants and defunding support for pregnant women. The conference committee should take a less extreme path when they reconcile the House and Senate omnibus bill.