Minnesota law prohibited public funding of abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother) until June 1994. That's when Hennepin County District Judge William Posten decided that the state Constitution requires Medicaid coverage of abortion for low-income women. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling in its Dec. 15, 1995, Doe v. Gomez decision. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court—in Roe v. Wade or subsequent abortion cases—has gone that far.
Twenty years later, taxpayers have funded more than 73,000 abortions at a cost of more than $21.5 million. In 2013 alone (the most recent statistics from the Department of Human Services), Minnesotans paid $810,000 for 3,391 abortions.
One need not support legal protection for unborn children to oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their destruction, as we explained in a 2014 op-ed in the Star Tribune. Here's why taxpayer funding must end.
(1) Elective abortion is not a public good deserving of public support. It is not health care—it violently attacks the health and ends the life of a developing human being. "Abortion," the U.S. Supreme Court explained in a 1980 case (Harris v. McRae) upholding limits on public funding, "is inherently different from other medical procedures." Why are Minnesotans required to pay for this?
(2) A substantial body of research has established that government funding increases the incidence of abortion (relative to what it would otherwise be). A literature review by the Guttmacher Institute—a proponent of unlimited abortion—concluded that "approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable." Public funding means more abortions. Limits on public funding mean fewer abortions. Doe v. Gomez has led to the killing of thousands of young human beings who otherwise would have lived.
(3) Taxpayer funding of abortion enables economic exploitation. It allows the abortion industry to generate more revenue by marketing "free" abortions to economically vulnerable women. Minnesota taxpayers are now billed for 38.1 percent of all abortions—the highest percentage ever. Planned Parenthood, which performs more abortions than any other provider, increased its state-funded abortion claims by 13 percent in 2013 (following a 32 percent rise in 2012). The organization collected $295,216 from the state for performing 1,287 abortions on low-income women, a 16 percent revenue jump over the previous year (after a 30 percent increase in 2012).
Abortion doesn't solve anyone's problems. Pregnant women facing difficult circumstances deserve our compassion, care, and support. We can put tax dollars to better use.
That's why MCCL strongly favors current legislation, H.F. 607/S.F. 683, to ban taxpayer funding of abortion. Twenty years is 20 years too long—and 73,000 lives too many.