Through the hard work and dedication of MCCL staff, volunteers, and members, the pro-life movement in Minnesota has succeeded in helping to enact many pro-life laws. Below are the highlights of MCCL’s legislative work.
Human Conceptus Law (MN Statutes 145.421-145.422)
Passed in 1973, just months after Roe v. Wade was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, this law prohibits experimentation on a living human conceptus.
Abortion Physician-Only Requirement (MN Statute 145.412, Subd. 1)
A year after Roe v. Wade, Minnesota passed an extensive Abortion Regulatory Law that included many protections for both mother and unborn child. Unfortunately, most were declared unconstitutional. A requirement that only physicians perform abortions remains in effect.
Taxpayer Funded Abortion Ban (MN Statute 256B.0625)
In 1978, Minnesota passed a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion, except in rare cases. Later, in 1995’s Doe v. Gomez decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional, forcing Minnesotans to begin paying for elective abortions.
Parental Notification (MN Statute 144.343)
Minnesota’s 1981 parental notification law requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor (it includes a court-required judicial bypass option). The law was challenged and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1990 Hodgson v. Minnesota decision.
Abortion / Insurance Laws
Also in 1981, Minnesota passed a law allowing health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to exclude elective abortions from their coverage. In 1986, Minnesota’s state insurance law was amended to require coverage of maternity care in policies written to cover Minnesota residents. When the Health Care Access bill (which essentially created MinnesotaCare) passed in 1991, pro-lifers successfully amended the bill to prohibit coverage of abortion and abortion-related services.
Wrong Life / Birth Suits Prohibited (MN Statute 145.424)
Legalized abortion led to a belief among some that it was a doctor’s duty to determine if an unborn child would be disabled, and if so, to then notify the parents so that the child could be aborted. Several of these cases, typically called "wrongful life" or "wrongful birth" suits, made it into the court system. With this in mind, Minnesota passed a law in 1982 prohibiting such cases. The law was challenged, although upheld, in the Minnesota Supreme Court.
"Baby Doe" Protections (MN Statute 260C.007)
Following a national controversy that arose over an Indiana infant whose parents denied care because their child was disabled, Minnesota passed a “Baby Doe” law in 1985 protecting such infants from withdrawal of medically indicated treatment (including feeding).
Fetal Homicide Law (MN Statute 609.266)
In the mid-'80s, a Minnesota man was charged with causing the deaths of a mother and her unborn child. On appeal, the court ruled that he could not be charged with the death of the child. Consequently, in 1986, Minnesota passed a fetal homicide law that imposes penalties on those who kill or injure an unborn baby other than in the commission of a legal abortion.
Fetal Disposal Law (MN Statute 145.1621)
Another law that was passed, challenged, and upheld in the courts (this time the Federal Eighth Circuit Court) was Minnesota’s 1987 fetal disposal law. It ensures that the bodies of aborted babies are buried, cremated, or otherwise disposed of in a sanitary and dignified manner.
Advance Directives (MN Statutes Chapter 145C)
In 1989, Minnesota considered legislation authorizing living wills that could be used to justify the withdrawal not only of medical care, but also of food and fluids. MCCL successfully lobbied to add some protective amendments to the legislation. One such protection requires that when a hospital refuses to treat a patient long-term, the hospital is still required to provide care to the patient until transfer to another hospital can be arranged.
Conscience Clause (MN Statute 145.925)
In 1991, the Minnesota Legislature provided a significant funding increase for family planning agencies. Because there was a fear that abortion-supporting organizations would receive preference in receiving these funds, a conscience clause was added that prohibited discrimination, when allocating family planning grant funds, against agencies that do not consider abortion a method of family planning.
Prohibition of Assisted Suicide (MN Statute 609.215)
In 1992 Minnesota clarified and tightened its law against assisted suicide. The law was weakened by a court ruling in 2014, but the prohibition on assisting someone in a suicide remains in place.
Abortion Data Reporting (MN Statutes 145.4131-145.4136)
In 1998 lawmakers passed an abortion data reporting law. The annual reports are invaluable, providing such information as why women choose abortion, what method of abortion is used, and how developed the unborn child is at the time of the abortion.
Woman’s Right to Know (MN Statutes 145.4241-145.4249)
Passed in 2003, the Woman’s Right to Know informed consent law empowers women by ensuring they are fully informed before undergoing an abortion. Specifically, the law requires that women be told the gestational age of their unborn child and the risks of carrying their child to term and of the abortion procedure, and that they be offered information on the baby’s development and alternatives to abortion.
Positive Alternatives Act (MN Statute 145.4235)
The Minnesota Legislature passed the Positive Alternatives Act in 2005. The Positive Alternatives program provides $2.5 million annually in grants to life-affirming organizations that assist pregnant women. The grants are available to provide various kinds of support and resources to women facing an unexpected or difficult pregnancy—so that no woman feels forced into having an abortion.
Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act (MN Statute 145.4242)
The Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act was added to the Woman’s Right to Know law in 2005. It requires that women be offered pain-reducing medication for their unborn children after 20 weeks.
Prohibition on Taxpayer Funding of Human Cloning (2009 MN Session Law, Chapter 95, Article 1, Sec. 5, Subd. 7)
This measure prohibited the University of Minnesota from using taxpayer dollars for human cloning research for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.
Abortion / Insurance Laws (MN Statute 145.414)
This 2013 measure prohibits requiring insurance companies to offer coverage for elective abortions. Abortion cannot be a mandated “benefit” in MNsure, the health insurance exchange required by the Affordable Care Act.
Born Alive Infant Protection Law (MN Statute 145.423)
Minnesota law already prohibited the killing of an infant who is born alive during the course of an abortion, but an updated version of the law, based on federal law, went into effect in 2015.
Safe Place for Newborns (MN Statute Section 145.902)
Minnesota enacted the Safe Place for Newborns law in 2000. This program aims to prevent infant abandonment or infanticide by allowing a mother to anonymously surrender her newborn at a designated "safe place," no questions asked. The program was expanded in 2012, and funds were allocated to promote the program in 2015.