NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Legislative Update

March 3, 2017

NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota continues to work against two unconstitutional anti-choice bills that would infringe on abortion rights.

Medicaid Coverage Ban

SF 702/ HF 809 would deny abortion coverage to women who are covered under Minnesota’s Medical Assistance (Medicaid) program.  This bill is clearly unconstitutional.  In 1995, the Minnesota State Supreme Court held that “the difficult decision whether to obtain a therapeutic abortion will not be made by the government, but will be left to the woman and her doctor.”  This constitutional level decision also required that if MA covers pregnancy care, it must also cover abortion care.

In states that do not provide Medicaid coverage for abortion, most low-income women still manage to obtain an abortion.  Most are forced to divert money from living expenses, such as rent, food, or utilities.  An abortion would cost a woman on Medicaid nearly a third of her monthly income.

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee heard SF 702 on Tuesday, where it passed along party lines.  The bill is now headed to the Senate floor, where an anti-choice majority is likely to pass it.

In the House, the Health and Human Services Reform Committee heard HF 809 on Thursday, where it was a subject of heated discussion.  Representative Rena Moran (DFL, St. Paul) spoke eloquently and passionately about the bill, asking, “Why don’t we stop doing things for low income women and start doing things with them?  They have ideas and solutions and they know what’s best for them and their families.”  Video of the hearing is available here.

The bill passed out of committee and was referred to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

Abortion Clinic Licensure

SF 704/HF 812 would require abortion clinics to meet discriminatory, unnecessary, and burdensome ambulatory surgical center standards.  Last June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a similar Texas law was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortion.  Abortion is extremely safe and clinics already meet the licensing requirements of the state licensing boards for medicine and nursing.  If this bill is enacted, 4 of the 5 abortion clinics in Minnesota will be forced to close.

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee heard SF 704 on Tuesday evening.  The bill passed along party lines, but Sen. Dan Schoen (DFL, Cottage Grove) was able to include an amendment protecting the privacy of patient records.  The bill is headed to the Senate Finance Committee.  Sen. Pappas (DFL, St. Paul) also confirmed that she had spoken to Governor Dayton, who is committed to vetoing the bill if it reaches his desk.

In the House, the Health and Human Services Reform Committee heard HF 812  on Thursday.   Newly elected Rep. Liz Olson (DFL, Duluth) informed committee members that she had visited the Women’s Health Center of Duluth, the only abortion provider in greater Minnesota.  The clinic is fully insured, complies with all relevant laws, and is certified by the National Abortion Federation, which conducted a successful inspection last fall.  Despite the constitutional questions raised about the bill, it passed out of committee and was referred to the House Government Operations Committee.  Video of the hearing is available here.

Defund Planned Parenthood Bill Introduced in House

HF 1962, chief authored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R, Stillwater) was introduced on Thursday.  The bill would deny tens of thousands of Minnesota women access to Planned Parenthood by cutting off the state funding and federal funding that many women rely on in order to get basic reproductive health care like birth control, clinical breast exams and cervical cancer screenings.

The bill has not yet been scheduled in committee, but could be included in the 2017-18 House budget bill.


Coming Up:  

Wednesday, March 16, 6:30-8 PM, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota:  Lobby Day Volunteer Training

Wednesday, March 29:  Pro-Choice Lobby Day.  Register now to receive briefings on important bills impacting reproductive rights and to lobby your legislators.



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