Minnesota Lawmakers Roll Out Anti-Choice Legislation

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Minnesota Lawmakers Roll Out Anti-Choice Legislation

Nina Liss-Schultz

Minnesota lawmakers this month have introduced five anti-choice bills, each designed to make safe abortion less accessible in the state.

Minnesota lawmakers this month have introduced five anti-choice bills, each designed to make safe abortion less accessible in the state.

Two identical bills, SF 800 and HF 607, would bar Medicaid and other public health programs in the state from covering abortion services—policies that would have an outsized impact on low-income women.

The federal Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of public funds for abortions services, but some states, including Minnesota, use state funds to cover all “medically necessary” abortions. SF 800 and HF 607 would effectively prohibit low-income women from accessing abortions by limiting how public money can be used.

Two other bills, SF 794 and HF 606, also identical, would require free-standing reproductive health facilities that perform ten or more abortions each month to be licensed in the same way as outpatient surgical centers, and would allow the state to inspect those facilities with no notice.

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Outpatient surgical centers in Minnesota, facilities that have the purpose of performing surgical services, are required to follow specific architectural requirements, including having available specific pre- and post-operation spaces, conforming to certain standards of air conditions and ventilation, and making available lockers for employees to keep their belongings.

SF 794 and HF 606, which are essentially TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion provider) laws—increasingly common policies pushed by anti-choice legislators—would expand those licensing and architectural requirements to clinics that aren’t specifically surgical centers.

A fifth bill, HF 734, would require a prescribing physician be physically present when abortion drugs are administered.

Typically, a person seeking a medication abortion can get a prescription and return home to take the medicine when ready. The new bill would require that the person be with their physician when taking mifepristone or another drug to induce abortion.

Minnesota is one of two states that allows medications for abortion to be prescribed telemedically, which bolsters abortion access for people in rural areas. HF 734 would effectively ban telemedicine abortion by requiring the patient be in the same room as her physician when taking the medication.

All five of these bills have companion proposals in their respective chambers.

Minnesota has a split legislature. The state senate is majority Democratic, while the house is majority Republican.

Minnesota’s abortion rate, as of 2011, was well below the national average—as it has been since the early-1990s. Those seeking an abortion in Minnesota must undergo state-directed counseling that includes information meant to discourage undergoing the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute.