Abortion crackdowns advancing through Minnesota legislature

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The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers.
Yesterday, the House and Senate approved two distinct abortion crackdowns.

The House bill would ban so-called "telemedicine abortions" and require the physical presence of a doctor when an abortion is performed. The Senate bill would mandate abortion clinics to be licensed and subject them to random inspections -- requirements that no other clinics providing outpatient surgeries in Minnesota are subject to.

Governor Dayton's spokeswoman, speaking specifically of the licensure bill, said Dayton "has not yet said he would veto this, but I would point to the governor's long record of supporting a woman's right to choose."

The House bill would ban a Planned Parenthood program where doctors at its St. Paul clinic videoconference with patients in Rochester about medication abortions. Abortion-inducing drugs are dispensed to patients from a locked safe in the Rochester exam room that the physician opens remotely.

Opponents of the House bill argue that the abortion-inducing drug, RU-486, is associated with fewer patient deaths than Tylenol or Viagra, nullifying any suggestion that the bill is about protecting women's health. According to the Pioneer Press, in 2010, drug-induced abortions accounted for 2,378 of the 11,550 abortions in the state.

Alluding to the relative safety of abortion meds, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, D-Minneapolis, introduced an amendment that would require medical supervision when men take Viagra, which has a death rate about five times higher than RU-486.

Republicans didn't think Kahn's amendment was funny.

Said Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron:
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Quam acknowledged his support for the House bill isn't based on health care considerations.
My wife and I lost our first child through a miscarriage early in the pregnancy. Some of us... believe that each occasion [an abortion is performed], there is a death. That is why I believe this is not a trivial prescription for Tylenol or anything else. That's where I'm voting on this, is from that conviction and belief.
The Senate bill was inspired by Pennsylvania's so-called "house of horrors" abortion clinic, where a doctor and his staff were charged in the death of a woman and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors.

That's pretty grisly, but opponents of the bill point out that there's no precedent for anything of the sort in Minnesota. Opponents also argued that doctors and nurses already have to be licensed by the state, and that Minnesota doesn't license any clinics that provide outpatient surgery.

Furthermore, the Senate bill would require any clinic that provides more than 10 abortions per month to pay an annual license fee of $3,712.

Companion bills for both pieces of legislation are expected to be taken up by each of the respective chambers shortly, meaning the abortion crackdowns will probably soon reach the desk of Governor Dayton.

See also:
-- MN Senate committee passes two anti-abortion bills

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