Two initiatives strongly backed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, were voted down today on the floor of the state Senate. A ban on taxpayer funded abortions and a requirement that abortion facilities be licensed and inspected were both voted down, 30-35. Both were proposed as amendments to the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bill. Votes on both companion HHS amendments were approved today in the House of Representatives.
The taxpayer funded abortion ban was offered by Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, and Sen. Lyle Koenen, D-Clara City. The licensing amendment was offered by Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston.
“Taxpayer funding of elective abortions is unjust, and unlicensed abortion facilities pose many possible health risks for women,” said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. “The Senate has voted against the will of the people of Minnesota, who support these life-affirming measures.”
After 19 years of taxpayer-funded abortions, Minnesotans were forced to pay for 16 percent more abortions in 2014. Taxpayers have funded more than 73,000 abortions at a cost of $22.5 million, according to a report released this month by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Taxpayer-funded abortions numbered almost 4,000 in Minnesota in 2014; nearly all of those abortions were elective.
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Taxpayers are forced to fund abortions due to a successful 1995 court challenge to Minnesota’s law which prohibited funding of most abortions. Since then, abortion advocates have steadily marketed taxpayer-funded abortions to low-income women. Taxpayers now fund 39 percent of all abortions (up from 34.2 percent in 2013), the highest ever.
“Taxpayer funds should be used to benefit the people of Minnesota, not to kill unborn children and enrich the abortion industry,” Rau explained.
The other amendment would require the state’s five surgical abortion facilities to be licensed by the Department of Health. State law requires outpatient surgical centers to be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health. However, abortion facilities which perform outpatient surgical abortion procedures enjoy an exemption from this safety requirement. The amendment would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be held to the same standards as other outpatient surgical centers. The amendment would also allow inspections of abortion facilities.
Whole Woman’s Health, which purchased and merged two abortion facilities in Minneapolis, has paid several large fines for breaking the law in Texas.
“At a very minimum, the state ought to ensure that abortion facilities offer a degree of safety to women and are not in violation of state law,” Rau said.
MCCL helped to pass a ban on taxpayer funded abortion during the 2011 legislative session; it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Legislation to require abortion facilities to be licensed and inspected was approved by the Legislature in 2012. Dayton also vetoed that bill.