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Introduced by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Sen. Benson (R-Ham Lake) HF 1312 / SF 1609, the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” bans abortion after 20 weeks. This is unconstitutional legislation that threatens the health of patients and criminalizes doctors. This is just another attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion by challenging longstanding, United States Supreme Court and Minnesota Supreme Court precedence.

End of Session Update (June 2019): Did not become law

The 20 week ban was included in the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate’s larger package of health care bills. Fortunately, the DFL-controlled Minnesota House and Governor Walz both strongly opposed the bill and made sure it did not become law.

Not every pregnancy goes as a family hopes it will—some end in miscarriage or some create serious health complications. Abortion later in pregnancy often happens after something has gone terribly wrong with a wanted pregnancy and often involve rare, severe fetal abnormalities and serious risks to the patient’s health which are not discovered until a 20-week ultrasound.

Abortion after 20 weeks is exceedingly rare, accounting for about 1% of all abortions nationwide.  Though the percentage is small, these are heartbreaking situations, when a patient and their doctor need every medical option available to them. Abortion bans like HF 1312 / SF 1609 take away the opportunity for a person facing a medically complex pregnancy to make private, personal decisions without government interference.

Patients who need abortion in the second trimester often have to jump through numerous hoops to find a provider who can help them. This makes an already emotionally and physically difficult situation even harder for the patient. Planned Parenthood in Minnesota is proud to care for patients who are seeking an abortion in the second trimester and will never abandon them. Planned Parenthood in Minnesota not provide third trimester abortion. There are only a handful of physicians in the country that can provide abortion in the very rare circumstance someone needs an abortion in the third trimester.

If this bill becomes law, a physician who performs an abortion after twenty weeks could be prosecuted for a felony and be subject to civil claims. It would put doctors in an untenable situation of acting in the best interest of their patients or facing criminal prosecution. The bill also allows the woman or the father of the unborn child to bring civil action against a physician who performs an abortion after 20 weeks. Doctors should not be criminalized for acting in the best interest of patients.

Patients don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Every pregnancy is different. Doctors and patients should make medical decisions—not politicians.

This bill is unconstitutional. It a direct challenge to both Doe v. Gomez and Roe vs. Wade and is a clear attempt to dramatically limit access to abortion in Minnesota. The Minnesota Supreme Court, in Doe v. Gomez, broadly interpreted the right to privacy and held that “the difficult decision whether to obtain a therapeutic abortion will not be made by the government but will be left to the woman and her doctor.” 

This ban is supported by the same political groups and legislators who have worked to eliminate funding for cancer screenings, birth control, sex education, and abortion. Other states have paid millions of dollars in legal fees to defend unconstitutional restrictions on abortion rights, so why are these lawmakers wasting the Minnesota’s Legislature’s time and Minnesotan’s taxpayer dollars?

We’ve seen what happens when politicians interfere in these deeply personal medical decisions and tie doctors’ hands. In states that have passed laws like this, some women and their families have been put into unimaginable situations—needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so. The Minnesota Legislature must reject these attempts to restrict access to safe and legal health care.

Stop the 20 Week Ban

Contact your elected officials to demand they vote NO on HF 1312 / SF 1609, a dangerous bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks, threatening the health of patients and putting physicians in the untenable situation of acting in the best interest of their patients or facing criminal prosecution.

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Tags: minnesota

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