Minnesota House panel approves bill banning taxpayer funding of abortions

(Reuters/Stephen Lam)An anti-abortion sign is seen as demonstrators march on Market Street during the Ninth Annual Walk for Life West Coast rally in San Francisco, California, January 26, 2013.

A Minnesota House panel has approved a measure that would prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions in the state.

The bill known as H.F. 809 (S.F. 702), authored by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), seeks to reinstate a 1978 law which bans the practice of providing free abortions to women on the state's Medicaid program, Medical Assistance (MA). It was approved by the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance committee last Thursday, Life News reported.

The 1978 law was overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court in its 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision. As the result of the ruling, 43 percent of all abortions in the state are funded with taxpayer money, amounting to nearly $1 million each year.

"Minnesota has one of the nation's most extreme state policies regarding abortion," said Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) Legislative Director Andrea Rau, noting that most citizens do not support the ruling.

"A 2015 poll found 68 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion—this includes 69 percent of women and 71 percent of millennials," she added.

According to National Right to Life, from the time of the Supreme Court decision until the end of 2014, $22 million have been spent to pay for more than 73,000 abortions.

"Even more concerning than these numbers, is that while the number of abortions in Minnesota has dropped substantially, the percentage of taxpayer funded abortions has been increasing," Rau stated when she testified during the bill's second hearing by the Minnesota Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy committee earlier this month.

"We cannot deny that a huge disparity exists in Minnesota: When a woman finds herself pregnant, if she is on MA she is much more likely to abort her child, than if she isn't on MA," she added.

The House committee also approved H.F. 812, a bill that would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions each month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health. The measure, authored by Rep. Deb Kiel, (R-Crookston), also gives the commissioner the authority to inspect abortion facilities as deemed necessary, with no prior notice required.

The legislation would apply to Minnesota's five abortion facilities, which perform 99 percent of all abortions in the state. In 2015, it was reported that a total of 9,861 abortions were performed in Minnesota.

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