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On 25th anniversary, tax-funded abortion continues to harm Minnesota women, children, and taxpayers

December 15, 2020 | Press Release

MINNEAPOLIS — Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Doe v. Gomez court decision requiring public funding of abortion in Minnesota. Taxpayers have reimbursed abortion practitioners about $27 million for more than 90,000 abortions.

"Most people, even many who favor legalized abortion, oppose using tax dollars to pay for elective abortions," says MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Minnesotans and their elected representatives in the Legislature never agreed to this policy. It was imposed by the courts with no basis in the state Constitution. And the result? Disastrous harm to unborn children, taxpayers, and low-income women and families who deserve so much better."

Minnesota law previously prohibited Medicaid funding of elective abortions. But a Hennepin County District Court judge struck down that measure in 1994, and the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling in its Dec. 15, 1995, Doe v. Gomez decision.

Gomez claimed a broad "right" to abortion in the Minnesota Constitution, and ruled that if the state's Medicaid program covers childbirth, it must cover abortion as well. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (the 1973 decision requiring legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide), Gomez would still require largely unfettered abortion in Minnesota—and tax-subsidized abortion for women who receive state assistance.

In 2018 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, taxpayers bankrolled 4,256 abortions at a cost of $1.03 million. Planned Parenthood accounted for a record-high 2,723 of those abortions—a startling jump of 214 percent since 2011. A large body of research, including a literature review by the abortion-industry-aligned Guttmacher Institute, shows that public funding of abortion leads to significantly more overall abortions than would otherwise take place.

"Minnesota's tax-funded abortion policy isn't only unjust to the unborn children who are killed with public money, as if such killing were a public good," says Fischbach. "It's also harmful to the economically vulnerable women to whom Planned Parenthood offers 'free' abortions, driving up the group's abortion numbers and revenue. And it's unfair to Minnesota taxpayers, who shouldn't have to pay for this."

In her dissenting opinion in the Gomez case, Justice Mary Jeanne Coyne blasted the majority for "abandon[ing] all vestige of neutrality" and "frankly extol[ling] abortion as a positive good and the cure for all the ills from which a pregnant woman could possibly suffer." She wrote, "There is a very significant difference between a right to decide to terminate a pregnancy by abortion … and a right to compel the state to pay for the abortion."

MCCL has frequently pursued legislation that would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion. Such legislation passed through the Legislature in 2011 and 2017, but then-Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed both bills. If enacted and then challenged in court, a ban on tax-funded abortion could give the Minnesota Supreme Court an opportunity to revisit and reverse its Doe v. Gomez decision.

A 2020 Marist poll found that 60 percent of Americans oppose the use of tax dollars for abortion.


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