Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MN Women's Right to Know law

In the landmark 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld laws requiring that women be offered factual information about abortion complications and alternatives prior to undergoing the procedure. Minnesota's Woman's Right to Know law (passed in 2003), styled after the Casey decision, is considered the best of all 22 similar state laws, and we are the first state to ensure that women receive scientific information about fetal pain suffered during abortion.

The Woman's Right to Know law requires that 24 hours before an abortion takes place, a woman be given the following information:

1) the particular medical risks associated with the particular abortion procedure to be employed;
2) the probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed;
3) the medical risks associated with carrying her child to term;
4) for abortions after 20 weeks gestational, whether or not an anesthetic or analgesic would eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child caused by the particular method of abortion to be employed and the particular medical benefits and risks associated with the particular anesthetic or analgesic. A physician must also provide the woman with any additional costs associated with the administration of an anesthetic or analgesic.
5) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care;
6) that the father is liable to assist in the support of her child even in instances when the father has offered to pay for an abortion; and
7) that she has the right to review materials made available by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched its initial Web site and published a Woman's Right to Know handbook, "If You Are Pregnant," providing women with vital abortion facts. The site and handbook feature beautiful images of unborn babies throughout the 40 weeks of gestation. Minnesota adoption agencies and centers offering alternatives to abortion are listed. Women are informed about abortion risks and complications, methods of abortion, fetal pain, the birth father's responsibilities and more. Free copies of the color handbook -- including large print, Braille and cassette tape versions -- are available.

Learn more.