Senate panel approves two pro-life bills
ST. PAUL — Two key pro-life measures were approved by the Minnesota Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy committee last night. It was the second hearing for both bills, which have the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization. S.F. 704 (H.F. 811), authored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. The bill also authorizes the commissioner to perform inspections of abortion facilities as deemed necessary, with no prior notice required. MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau testified that the state cannot rely upon abortion recipients to expose problems at abortion facilities. "Women who have abortions typically tell few people and don't want others to know—so you end up with a scenario where women are very unlikely to report problems." The requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of all abortions in Minnesota. In 2015, a total of 9,861 abortions were performed in the state. The second measure passed by the panel, S.F. 702 (H.F. 809), would prohibit state funds from being used for abortion. The legislation would conform Minnesota's policy on taxpayer funded abortion with that of the federal government by reinstating a 1978 state ban on the practice of providing free abortions to women on the state's Medicaid program, Medical Assistance (MA). In its 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned that law and required taxpayers to fund abortions. As a result, 43 percent of all abortions performed in Minnesota are now paid for with taxpayer dollars. From the time of the court decision until the end of 2014, taxpayers have been forced to pay more than $22 million for more than 73,000 abortions. "Even more concerning than these numbers is that while the number of abortions in Minnesota has dropped substantially, the percentage of taxpayer funded abortions has been increasing," Rau testified. "We cannot deny that a huge disparity exists in Minnesota: When a woman finds herself pregnant, if she is on MA she is much more likely to abort her child than if she isn't on MA." Under S.F. 702, Minnesota citizens would no longer be forced to continue to fund an act which they do not support and which does not further the public good—and do so at a rate of more than 10 times every day, weekends included. This commonsense legislation protects and respects our fellow citizens.