Dayton vetoes abortion bills, reminds politicians they aren't doctors

Categories: Legislature
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Just to prove they weren't totally heartless, Republicans pushed through a bill this session that, while outlawing all abortions after 20 weeks, made exceptions for saving the life of a mother or sparing her from irreparable physical harm.

But if that woman were a victim of rape or incest, the bill would have required her to carry the baby to term. Such kindness.

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed that bill yesterday. He also vetoed another measure that would have outlawed abortion funding for poor women, as if "those" women's health needs were any different than those who have money in the bank.

The 20-week limit was a solution in search of a problem: Abortions after 20 weeks in Minnesota are incredibly rare. Of them, most are the result of a mother discovering she's carrying a baby that is critically deformed and almost certain to die upon birth--a discovery that can't be detected until after 20 weeks of gestation.

One such mother testified earlier this session against the 20-week bill, only to be brushed aside by Republican Rep. Bob Barrett, who wasn't interested in the scientific facts the woman brought to the hearing. He said that as far as he was concerned, the opinions of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a staunch reproductive rights foe, trumped all scientific evidence about the life expectancy of severely deformed fetuses.

Here's Alicia Hempl, whose doctor discovered last summer that her fetus carried a devastating chromosome abnormality called Trisomy 18.

And here's Barrett, who begins by admitting he doesn't know a whole lot about the medical condition being discussed.

Dayton's veto message takes an indirect swipe at Barrett's kind of thinking.

Medical research, findings, and conclusions are best left to experts who are trained to make medical, not political, decisions, and who are in the best position to protect a woman's health. Our place is not between a woman and her doctor.

As for targeting poor women, state funding is already limited to abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when a woman's life is in danger. Pull state funding from even those cases, and it "infringes upon a woman's basic right to health and safety, a right every woman has, regardless of how she receives her health coverage," Dayton said.

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