Minnesota Senate Approves Budget Without Vote on Abortion Funding

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 9, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Minnesota Senate Approves Budget Without Vote on Abortion Funding

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 9, 2006

St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — The Minnesota state Senate on Monday approved its version of the state budget but did not take a vote on a pro-life amendment that would have had the state no longer pay for abortions for poor residents. Pro-life lawmakers were hoping for a vote similar to the one the state House had on the amendment, but it didn’t happen.

That’s because Senate Democrats removed health provisions in the budget that pro-life legislators could have used to attach their amendment.

"Quite simply, you can run but you can’t hide from this issue," Sen. Warren Limmer told fellow lawmakers, according to a KARE-TV report.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson said Senate leaders weren’t ducking the issue and indicated a vote would come up later in the year.

"We will address it," he said. "We’re not dodging it. I have no intention of dodging it."

Senate leaders also came under fire because one of the provisions they removed to prevent a vote on the abortion amendment was a $70 million program by the state health department to address sex offenders. The money intended to commit some of the worse offenders to mental hospitals was deleted to make sure the abortion amendment wouldn’t get a vote.

The House twice approved the abortion funding amendment including signing off on it in a budget amendment as well as a stand alone bill, which received a 81-50 vote last month.

The issue will undoubtedly come up again because House and Senate leaders will have to reconcile their versions of the budget bill and come up with one final legislative proposal.

The amendment is designed to require the state’s high court to re-examine its 1995 decision in Doe v. Gomez. Pro-life groups are hopeful that the state’s high court would reverse its decision because five of the seven justices who participated in the 1995 case are new.

Scott Fischbach, the director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which is promoting the pro-life bill, expected to have a tougher time in the Senate.

"The Senate is where our legislation runs into trouble," Fischbach said.

"What they did in Doe v. Gomez was found an absolute right to abortion in the Minnesota Constitution, and that needs to be addressed," he said, in explaining the need for the bill.

The decision, which also ruled that the privacy clause in the state constitution should be misused to protect a so-called right to abortion, would need to be overturned if Minnesota wants to prohibit abortions if Roe is ever reversed.

The state’s high court decided the Gomez case 5-1 and Justices Alan Page and Paul Anderson, who both supported the abortion payments, are still on the court.

The pro-life organization could propose a state constitutional amendment to put before the voters but Fischbach says it would require a very expensive public campaign to pass the initiative.

Karen Smigielski, a spokeswoman for the Human Services Department, told the Associated Press that the state paid for 3,950 abortions in 2004 and spent $1.2 million paying for abortions in 2003.

Related web sites:
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life – https://www.mccl.org