Four Minnesota Bills Attempt to Restrict Access to Abortion

Andy Birkey

Minnesota’s anti-abortion forces are hoping a slate of bills will restrict access to abortion. Four bills have been offered this session, from outright bans on the procedure to data-collection mandates.

Minnesota’s anti-abortion forces are hoping a slate of bills will
restrict access to abortion. Four bills have been offered this session,
from outright bans on the procedure to data-collection mandates, but
none of them stand a chance of passing with a pro-choice DFL leadership.

A slew of Republicans are proposing a bill that would increase the mandates for reporting abortions. Under HF 290,
clinics and hospitals would be required to keep records on personal
health information for 15 years. Information to be included: medical
history, ultrasound copies, sex and age of the fetus and number of
fetuses terminated, as well as each patient’s name, address and date of

A patient must be notified prior to the procedure that her personal
information will be retained for 15 years. In recent years, several
high-profile cases have put patients’ privacy in jeopardy, including overzealous politicians using abortion records for anti-abortion causes.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers; Mary
Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake; Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar; Bob Dettmer, R-Forest
Lake; Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City; Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha; Torrey
Westrom, R-Elbow Lake; Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids; and Ron
Shimanski-R, Silver Lake.

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Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, is the sole sponsor in the Senate (SF 216).

Another bill (HF 1057, SF 904)
would require all abortions in the state to be performed within 20
miles of a hospital. It would charge a physician who does perform an
abortion outside the 20-mile radius with a misdemeanor.

Republican Rep. Laura Brod of New Prague is joined by Republican
Sens. Pat Pariseau of Farmington, Michelle L. Fischbach of Paynesville,
Joe Gimse of Willmar, Steve Dille of Dassel and David Hann of Eden
Prairie in support of the 20-mile restriction bill.

Republicans, along with a lone DFLer, have offered a bill banning a
rare abortion procedure called saline amniocentesis abortion. Sens. Amy
Koch, R-Buffalo; Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington; Michelle L. Fischbach,
R-Paynesville; Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove; and Claire A. Robling,
R-Jordan; are joined by Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault.

Saline amniocentesis abortion is a form of instillation abortion
where abortion-inducing fluid is injected into the amniotic sac.
Instillation accounts for 0.8 percent of abortions performed and saline
accounts for only about 10 percent of those procedures, with urea and
prostaglandin used in other cases.

To say that saline amniocentesis is a rare procedure is an
understatement. So why are Republicans and their lone DFL colleague
pushing the legislation? It would constitute a small victory for
boosting anti-abortion activists morale.

Another bill would put abortion services out of the reach of low-income women. HF 1059 and SF 906
says, “Funding for state-sponsored health programs shall not be used
for funding abortions, except to the extent necessary for continued
participation in a federal program.”

The bill is being pushed by Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, and Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has already declared it unconstitutional
to restrict state funding for abortion services under the 1995 decision
Doe v. Gomez, so even if the bill were passed into law, it is unclear whether it could survive a constitutional challenge.

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