Tuesday, January 15, 2013

40 years of MCCL accomplishments: Lives saved despite 1973 abortion legalization

The following ran in the November/December 2012 issue of MCCL News.

Jan. 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion on demand nationwide. About 55 million unborn children have been killed since then, including 578,226 babies in Minnesota (through 2011).

In the wake of those Court rulings, pro-life citizens mobilized to save as many lives as possible. For four decades we have worked to educate and persuade the public, help pregnant women in need, and enact laws to protect unborn children and their mothers. And though Roe v. Wade has yet to be overturned, this multi-pronged pro-life strategy has saved millions of lives and achieved significant progress in placing legal limits on abortion.

The annual number of abortions nationwide dropped from a high of 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.2 million by 2005—a 25 percent decline explained partly by Court rulings (especially Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992) allowing states to pass more kinds of pro-life legislation. Abortions in Minnesota peaked in 1980 at 19,028, but dropped to 11,071 by 2011, the lowest total since 1975. Abortions in our state have declined a remarkable 21 percent since 2006 following enactment of Woman's Right to Know and Positive Alternatives (see below).

So there is much success to celebrate even as—on this solemn anniversary—we rededicate ourselves to ending the injustice of abortion and restoring full respect and protection for every member of the human family. MCCL leads the pro-life effort at the state Capitol in St. Paul; here are some of our legislative victories over the last 40 years.

Legislative victories in Minnesota

Human Conceptus Law (MN Statutes 145.421-145.422)
This 1973 law prohibits experimentation on a living human conceptus.

Abortion Physician-Only Requirement (MN Statute 145.412, Subd. 1)
A year after Roe v. Wade, Minnesota passed an extensive Abortion Regulatory Law that included many protections for both mother and unborn child. Unfortunately, most were declared unconstitutional, but a requirement that only physicians perform abortions remains in effect.

Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Ban (MN Statute 256B.0625)
In 1978 Minnesota enacted a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion (with a few exceptions). In the 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional, forcing taxpayer-funded abortions on the people of Minnesota.

Parental Notification (MN Statute 144.343, authored by Sen. Gene Waldorf and Rep. Dominic Elioff)
Passed in 1981, Minnesota's parental notification law requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor (a court-required judicial bypass option is included). Minnesota's law was challenged and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and now serves as model legislation for other states.

Abortion / Insurance Laws
Also in 1981, Minnesota passed a law allowing health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to exclude elective abortions from their coverage. Then in 1986, Minnesota's state insurance law was amended to require coverage of maternity care in policies written to cover Minnesota residents. When the Health Care Access bill (which essentially created MinnesotaCare) passed in 1991, pro-lifers successfully amended the bill to prohibit coverage of abortion and abortion-related services.

Wrong Life/Birth Suits Prohibited (MN Statute 145.424, authored by Sen. Wayne Olhoft and Rep. Richard O'Connor)
Minnesota passed a law in 1982 prohibiting "wrongful life" or "wrongful birth" suits that claimed doctors had a duty to determine if an unborn child was disabled so that an abortion could be performed. The law was challenged and upheld in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

"Baby Doe" Protections (MN Statute 260C.007, authored by Sen. Florian Chmielewski and Rep. Ralph Kiffmeyer)
Minnesota enacted a law protecting disabled infants from denial of medically indicated treatment (including feeding) in 1985.

Fetal Homicide Law (MN Statute 609.266, authored by Sen. Tad Jude and Rep. Terry Dempsey)
In 1986 Minnesota passed a fetal homicide law to impose penalties on anyone who kills or injures an unborn baby other than in the commission of a legal abortion.

Fetal Disposal Law (MN Statute 145.1621)
Yet another law that was passed, challenged, and upheld in the courts (this time the Federal Eighth Circuit Court) was Minnesota's fetal disposal law ensuring that the bodies of aborted babies would be buried, cremated or otherwise disposed of in a sanitary and dignified manner.

Advance Directives (MN Statutes Chapter 145C)
MCCL successfully lobbied to add protective amendments to a law authorizing living wills, which could be used to justify the withdrawal not only of medical care, but also of food and fluids. One such protection requires that when a hospital refuses to treat a patient long-term, the hospital is still required to provide care to the patient until transfer to another hospital can be arranged.

Conscience Clause (MN Statute 145.925)
In 1991 the Minnesota Legislature provided a significant funding increase for family planning agencies. A conscience clause was added to prohibit discrimination against agencies that do not consider abortion a method of family planning.

Prohibition on Assisted Suicide (MN Statute 609.215)
Minnesota tightened its law against assisted suicide in 1992. Twenty years later, Minnesota's law still serves as model legislation for the rest of the country.

Abortion Data Reporting (MN Statutes 145.4131-145.4136, authored by Sen. Jim Vickerman and Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba)
Despite a pro-abortion governor and pro-abortion leadership in both the House and Senate, lawmakers passed an abortion data reporting law in 1998. The information provided in the annual reports is invaluable, providing such statistics as why women choose abortion and what method of abortion is used. This is another law that serves as model legislation for other states.

Safe Place for Newborns (MN Statutes 2010, section 145.902)
In 2000, to prevent cases of infant abandonment, Minnesota implemented a law allowing a mother to surrender her infant to a designated safe place with no questions asked. It was amended in 2012 to expand the number of safe places and the time period in which women have this option.

Woman's Right to Know (MN Statutes 145.4241-145.4249, authored by Sens. Michelle Fischbach / Steve Dille and Reps. Mary Liz Holberg / Marty Seifert)
Passed in 2003, Woman's Right to Know empowers women by ensuring they are fully informed before undergoing an abortion. The law requires that women be given factual information about fetal development, the abortion procedure, abortion risks, and alternatives to abortion. Under this law last year, 2,548 more women received the information than ended up going through with the abortion.

Positive Alternatives Act (MN Statute 145.4235, authored by Sen. Dallas Sams and Rep. Brad Finstad)
The Minnesota Legislature passed the Positive Alternatives Act in 2005 to provide more than $2 million annually in grants to life-affirming organizations that help pregnant women in need. The grants provide support and resources to women facing an unexpected or difficult pregnancy—so that no woman feels forced into having an abortion. About 35,000 women statewide were helped through the Positive Alternatives program in its first six years (July 2006-July 2012).

Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act (MN Statute 145.4242, authored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba)
The Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act was added to the Woman's Right to Know law in 2005. It requires that women be offered pain-reducing medication for their unborn children after 20 weeks.

Prohibition on Taxpayer Funding of Human Cloning (2009 MN Session Law, Chapter 95, Article 1, Sec. 5, Subd. 7)
This measure prohibited the University of Minnesota from using taxpayer dollars for human cloning research for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.