Minnesota Gov Vetoes 20-Week Abortion Ban, Taxpayer Funding Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2011   |   4:05PM   |   St. Paul, MN

As expected, pro-abortion Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed two pro-life bills that would have banned late-term abortions and prohibited taxpayer funding of abortions in the state.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, S.F. 649 and H.F. 936, would prohibit abortions after the point in pregnancy at which an unborn child can feel pain, which medical evidence demonstrates is conservatively at 20 weeks from conception. It is based on a landmark Nebraska law enacted last year, which has not been challenged in court. The bill would prohibit abortions from the point at which the unborn child can feel pain, which medical evidence demonstrates is (conservatively) 20 weeks from conception.

Meanwhile, a measure to ban taxpayer funding of abortion, S.F. 103 and H.F. 201, received approval as well in te state legislature.

But Dayton vetoed both bills today, that were strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s pro-life organization.

“We are very disappointed that Gov. Dayton prevented these mainstream measures from becoming law in our state,” MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach told LifeNews. “These are reasonable provisions, not extreme, and have overwhelming support from Minnesotans and legislators.”

The future of these pro-life provisions is uncertain. MCCL is hopeful that one or both will be part of any special session agreement reached between the Legislature and the governor.

“We want to see Gov. Dayton work together with all Minnesotans, including the large majority who are pro-life and expect to see these protective measures become law,” Fischbach added.

The vetoes contrast with the lengthy pro-life record compiled by Dayton’s predecessor, Governor Tim Pawlenty, who signed several pro-life bills into law and is now running for the Republican nomination for president.

The taxpayer funding of abortion ban was authored by Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, and Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover. The legislation would have prohibited taxpayer funding of abortion. The Legislature passed such a ban in 1978, but it was overturned by Doe v. Gomez, a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in which the Court established an absolute “right” to abortion in the state Constitution and required taxpayers to fund elective abortions for women on public assistance.

Since the Doe v. Gomez decision, taxpayers have paid more than $17 million to abort 54,802 unborn babies, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Minnesota taxpayers paid $1.5 million to the abortion industry for 3,754 abortions in 2008, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services’s latest figures.

The ruling overturned a law passed by the Legislature in 1978 that prohibited taxpayer funded abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

A March 2010 poll of Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district found that 73 percent of registered voters oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortions.

Regarding the fetal pain abortion ban, the

Nebraska law has not been challenged in court by the abortion industry and was successful in forcing late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart to take a job doing abortions in Maryland, which has no late-term abortion limits.

Fischbach said overwhelming anatomical, behavioral and physiological evidence confirms that the developing unborn child is capable of experiencing tremendous pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization. This evidence did not exist when the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision removed all protections for unborn children and established abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.

“People on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that the gratuitous suffering of the unborn child is incompatible with a humane and civilized society,” Fischbach said.

The most common abortion procedure used at 20 weeks is dilation and evacuation (D & E), which involves dismembering the unborn child, Fischbach noted. The abortionist uses forceps to tear apart the fetus in the womb, then reassembles the arms, legs, torso and head to ensure that no parts of the unborn child’s body have been left inside the woman.

“There is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization,” the bill reads. “It is the purpose of the state to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.”

The science behind the concept of fetal pain is fully established and Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for it.

He has testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen  were the top researchers to point to fetal pain decades ago. Collins, before his death, was Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and author of Principles of Anesthesiology, one of the leading medical texts on the control of pain.

“The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb,” they wrote.

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

With Zielinski and his colleagues the first to provide the scientific basis for the concept of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has provided further research to substantiate their work.

“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies,” explains Steven Calvin, M.D., perinatologist, chair of the Program in Human Rights Medicine, University of Minnesota, where he teaches obstetrics.

ACTION: Contact Governor Dayton at https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us to complain about his vetoes.


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