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‘Positive abortion alternatives’ program could be renamed ‘positive pregnancies’ under bill heard in House

Minnesota has an abortion alternatives grant program that provides funds to organizations that promote healthy pregnancy outcomes and family stability and self-sufficiency thereafter.

Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) would like to modify the program so funds can also go to organizations that support and assist people with their pregnancy, as well as new parents caring for their babies.

Additional changes in the bill would include privacy protections, updated eligibility requirements and alterations to the list of services that grant recipients must provide information and assistance. And it would ensure all information about pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or procedures be medically accurate.

Awaiting a fiscal note, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee on Thursday held HF289 over, as amended, for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

Speaking in support, Abena Abraham, co-director of Black Immigrant Collective, said negative maternal health outcomes amongst people of color are at an all-time high in Minnesota.

“Black birthing people are two times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than their white counterparts and indigenous birthing people are four times more likely to die,” said Dr. Anna Hing, a public health researcher at the University of Minnesota.

Rep. Kaohly Vang Her (DFL-St. Paul) supports the bill. She shared a personal story where she received inaccurate medical information about her life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

“I ended up at a crisis pregnancy center who actually did an ultrasound and told me to continue with that pregnancy without having real medical advice,” she said.

It wasn’t until she went to an abortion clinic that she was explained her options and decided to have an abortion over a dangerous pregnancy.

Opponents shared other concerns.

“We’ve officially hit bizarro world,” said Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch). “It is not enough to say abortion is OK for any reason at any point, what we are saying through this bill is that is not OK to say there might be another way.”

Lynesha Caron, executive director of Pregnancy Choices, added the bill would create unnecessary and careless barriers for current recipients to maintain their grant funding.

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