Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MCCL continues to push pro-life legislation, save lives

Much has been written lately about the flurry of pro-life legislation that states have been passing recently. It has led to many questions at the MCCL office from both our members and the media seeking to find out how Minnesota stacks up compared to other states.

Minnesota has a long history of being at the forefront of ground-breaking legislation. Our goal has never been "statement" legislation that sounds good but does little, but rather legislation that makes a difference and leads to saved lives.

Leader in model legislation

Minnesota's parental involvement law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and became model legislation for states around the country. It has been in place for more than 30 years, and has been a significant factor in Minnesota's low teen abortion rate.

More recently, Minnesota designed the Positive Alternatives grant program, which provides competitive grants to life-affirming programs that offer support and resources to pregnant and newly parenting mothers in need. At the time that Minnesota's legislation was written, only one other state had any kind of grant program dedicated to such programs.

MCCL's trailblazing efforts have continued in recent years.

Recent efforts

For example, when Minnesota began its attempt to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which prohibits abortion at the point that the unborn child feels pain (approximately 20 weeks after fertilization), only one state had so far passed similar legislation.

It is hoped that pain capable laws will lead to court challenges that undermine Roe v. Wade by effectively banning abortions at a certain point in the child's development, based on the humanity of the unborn child. While we were successful in passing the bill, it was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Gov. Dayton impeding progress

Gov. Dayton has proven to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. So far, he has vetoed each of the following pro-life provisions:

  • Prohibition on taxpayer funded abortion;
  • Ban on human cloning;
  • Prohibition on taxpayer funded human cloning;
  • Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (prohibition on abortion at the point the unborn child feels pain);
  • Abortion facility licensing and inspection regulations; and
  • Ban on webcam abortions.

However, the fact that these provisions made it to Dayton's desk shows that MCCL and Minnesota's pro-life community continue to be effective in passing pro-life legislation.

Modest gains in difficult times

In fact, in the last two years, a string of pro-life initiatives have been quietly signed into law in Minnesota, albeit less headline grabbing and more modest than the initiatives that were vetoed. These changes may not be as glamorous as what other states are able to do right now (with a pro-life governor), but they are lifesaving changes that continue to make a difference in Minnesota.

These recent successes include:

  • Prohibition on requiring insurance companies to provide abortion coverage in MNsure, Minnesota's new health insurance exchange;
  • Repeal of the Family Cap, a provision that threatened increased poverty for women who found themselves pregnant while on welfare;
  • Update of Minnesota's Safe Place for Newborns / Give Life a Chance law. The changes allow for additional time to relinquish a newborn without penalty (from 3 to 7 days) and make it easier to relinquish the child by simply calling 911; and
  • Amending the Positive Alternatives Law to increase the number of programs eligible to apply for grants.

MCCL started out ahead of many other states

In addition to these recently achieved victories, Minnesota has a number of additional laws on the books and in force (many of the recently passed laws in other states are currently unenforceable as they have already been struck down in the courts or are currently being challenged). Minnesota's most significant pro-life protections include:

  • A ban on experimentation on a living human conceptus (145.421-145.422);
  • A requirement that only a physician may perform an abortion (145.412, Subd. 1);
  • A requirement that both parents of a minor girl be notified prior to an abortion (144.343);
  • "Baby Doe" protections that forbid withdrawal of medically indicated treatment from newborn babies with disabilities (260C.007);
  • A fetal homicide law that makes it a crime to kill or injure an unborn child other than in the commission of a legal abortion (609.266);
  • Woman's Right to Know, informed consent requirements for women considering abortion (145.4241-145.4249); and
  • Positive Alternatives grant program, providing grants to life-affirming programs that provide support and resources to pregnant women and new parents (145.4235).

Many states making headlines through passage of pro-life legislation are passing variants of these laws that Minnesota already has on the books and in effect. We continue to believe that these laws are significantly helping the downward trend in abortion that Minnesota has seen over the last several years. Minnesota currently has its lowest number of abortions, and lowest abortion rate, since 1975.

Our goal is to continue to work to advance protective pro-life initiatives that will decrease the number of abortions in Minnesota, while thoughtfully pushing the courts to recognize the humanity of the unborn child. This work has the dual objective of lowering the number of abortions and changing the hearts and minds of those who aren't yet pro-life.