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Second abortion rights bill gains House committee approval

Cathy Blaeser, right, testifies before the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Jan. 12 against HF91, a bill sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling, left. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Cathy Blaeser, right, testifies before the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Jan. 12 against HF91, a bill sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling, left. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

The DFL’s second bill aimed at reproductive rights received its first approval.

Sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), HF91, as amended, would repeal certain abortion regulations, as well as sodomy, fornication and adultery statutes.

On an 11-8 party-line vote, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill Thursday and referred it to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee. That approval comes one week after the same committee approved a bill that would codify other abortion rights.

The bill would repeal requirements involving:

  • parental notification for minors seeking an abortion;
  • women receiving state-mandated information at least 24 hours prior to an abortion;
  • performance of abortions only by physicians;
  • regulation of abortion facilities by the Department of Health;
  • abortion reporting; and
  • treatment of “infants born alive” after an attempted abortion.

Statutes limiting Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare coverage of abortion, prohibition of certain advertisements and prohibition of abortions performed at birth centers, would also be repealed.

Minnesota courts previously found many of the laws unconstitutional, including parental notification and the required 24-hour waiting period.

“Leaving unconstitutional statutes on our books creates a dangerous legal ambiguity for providers and patients in our state,” said Christy Hall, senior staff attorney at Gender Justice.

House Health Finance and Policy Committee 1/12/23

But another of the bill’s 12 testifiers, Dr. Steve Calvin, called the proposal “legislative malpractice.”

Republican attempts to amend the bill failed, all but one on party-line votes.

Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) tried to remove the born-alive statute repealer.

“It was not enough to support the most radical abortion policy in the world. Now we are saying that even if a baby is born alive that that child should also not live,” Neu Brindley said.

Liebling, the committee chair, countered that it is insulting to assume the medical community is unethical and act as if there are no laws protecting infants.

An amendment offered by Rep. Bernie Perryman (R-St. Augusta) would have kept parental notification requirements in place.

Current Minnesota law protects minors’ ability to make these decisions without [parental] consent,” Liebling said. “The abortion piece was written as an exception to the general minor consent provision.”

Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston) said her constituents have no desire to pay for abortions, but her amendment to prohibit government funds from supporting abortion was rejected.

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