- Paul Stark
Gov. Dayton's non-factual argument for taxpayer funding of abortion
The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill this spring that would prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for abortion. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill on Wednesday.
In his letter explaining the veto, Dayton writes: "State funding may only be used for abortions in cases of rape or incest, for health or therapeutic reasons, and when a woman's life is in danger." Therefore, he concludes, a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion would "infringe upon women's basic right to health and safety" and "interfere with critical medical decisions."
The problem is that this is simply and demonstrably false. (It is only true if "health or therapeutic reasons" are understood to encompass non-health and non-therapeutic reasons, such as socioeconomic reasons.) It used to be true—before the Minnesota Supreme Court's Doe v. Gomez decision—that public funding was limited to cases of rape or incest and cases in which the mother's life is in jeopardy. Now, taxpayer dollars bankroll abortions for any reason for women receiving state assistance.
We only have to look at the data provided by the state of Minnesota itself. According to the Department of Health, 43 percent of all abortions in Minnesota in 2015 were funded by taxpayers. Yet less than one percent of Minnesota abortions took place as a result of rape or incest, and far less than one percent involved a threat of "impairment of a major bodily function [of the pregnant woman]." The most common reason women cited for abortion was "does not want children at this time" (70 percent). The next most common was "economic reasons" (26 percent).
It is actually impossible, given the government data, that most abortions funded by the state have even an alleged connection to "health" of any kind (people can cite "emotional health" or "mental health issues and concerns"). There is no doubt that Minnesota taxpayers fund thousands of elective abortions each year. Those are the abortions that the legislation sought to address.
This is not, then, about women's health. Dayton didn't protect anyone's health care with his veto—literally, not a single person. Instead, he protected the use of government money for lethal violence against young members of the human species. Tearing off their arms and legs doesn't serve anyone's "health" or "safety."
The Dayton administration must know that taxpayer funding of elective abortion is not very popular with the public. Why else would Dayton's letter refuse to even acknowledge—must less defend—the practice?
No one should be misled about what the governor did. Or about what happens to more than four thousand unborn children each year using our Minnesota tax dollars.