Are Anti-Choice Legislators Gunning For Minnesota’s Version of Roe?


Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 is the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In the past few years, a woman’s right to choose whether and when to bear a child has become increasingly threatened by federal and state laws, clinic harassment, and provider violence. Because the “right to choose” depends on many factors, RH Reality Check is publishing a series of articles on abortion providers, state laws, and other threats to women’s fundamental rights under Roe.

As we once more celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case which upheld the constitutional right for every woman to control whether or not she has a child, women’s reproductive rights seem more in jeopardy than ever before.  Multiple anti-abortion restrictions have passed in the states within just the last year, each of them attempting to chip away at precedent by inhibiting a woman’s ability to easily access early abortion, adding to the costs of the procedure, even changing the timeline for legal access from viability of the fetus to an arbitrary point a few weeks earlier.

Each new regulation has been passed with two purposes – to block a woman’s ability to obtain a legal procedure in a reasonable and physically safe way, and to try and find a court case that can be used to challenge the settled law of the land.

For those of us in Minnesota, we have always been able to breathe a little easier when it comes to the legal right to an abortion.  In Minnesota, we have our own precedent-setting court case – Doe v. Gomez – which serves as the benchmark of abortion law. 

Doe v. Gomez established a woman’s right to chose in 1995 when the state supreme court ruled that the state cannot selectively cover pregnancy-related services by funding prenatal care and childbirth expenses while refusing to cover abortion services. Such support would be an implicit denial of a woman’s right to chose to carry a child to term or not.  Not funding abortion services, for example, then burdens low-income women with “undue financial constraints,” eliminating choice simply based on economic status.

Because of the ruling, Minnesota has been able to use Medicaid funds to allow low-income women to obtain the procedure, despite the Hyde Amendment’s federal rules regarding funding abortion with public money.  This aspect of the ruling has infuriated local social conservatives for years, causing local anti-choice groups like Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) to introduce the “Taxpayer Protection Act” nearly every year since the case was settled.  Each year the bill has been struck down by pro-choice members of the House and Senate, who held a majority of seats in the legislature.

Now, they don’t.

For the first time in recent history, both the Minnesota House and Senate have anti-choice majorities.  The current president of the Senate, Republican Senator Michelle Fischbach, is the wife of Scott Fischbach, the executive director for MCCL. The atmosphere in Minnesota has never been more hostile to women’s rights.

There are two ways that Doe v. Gomez could be overturned: by legislation or by amendment.  Should anti-choice legislators decide to push for an “end taxpayer-funded abortions” bill this session, they likely have more than enough votes to pass it.  Although newly elected Governor Mark Dayton, a pro-choice Democrat, would likely veto the bill, there may not be enough legislators left to block a veto override.  The bill, a direct challenge to Doe, would then be reviewed by the courts, which has shifted far to the right after eight years of appointments by two-term Governor Tim Pawlenty, a staunch Republican.

Megan Peterson, Deputy Director of National Network of Abortion Funds, would not be surprised to see a bill proposed and passed through the House and Senate this year.

“There is a ripe environment for action in this state to try and get rid of Doe v. Gomez due to the discussion nationally around abortion coverage in health care reform.  Although an all-out ban on abortion coverage in health care reform was avoided to secure passage, Congress included the Nelson Amendment which will still create significant barriers to abortion coverage, and President Obama reaffirmed the Hyde Amendment which bans federal funding of abortion care through Medicaid.”

“We have seen MCCL and anti-abortion activists repeatedly put forward the Taxpayer Protection Act, and each year they pick up a few more votes,” she added.  “Last year it was the closest it’s ever been.  The debate over health care reform has just added more fuel.”

Overturning Doe v. Gomez is more than just a matter of funding for abortion, however.  The ruling provides a constitutional right in Minnesota for all women to have access to an abortion.  Should one of myriad court challenges ever be successful at taking down Roe v. Wade, Minnesota has its own version to assure the procedure is not outlawed in the state.  If Doe is overturned first, women will be cut off all together.

If we lose Doe v. Gomez, that means that if Roe v. Wade is lost, we could then lose abortion rights across the state.  And that is the real plan of anti-abortion activists, wrapped in the guise of “protecting taxpayers” who don’t support reproductive rights.

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  • churchmouse

    “If we lose Doe v. Gomez, that means that if Roe v. Wade is lost, we could then lose abortion rights across the state.  And that is the real plan of anti-abortion activists, wrapped in the guise of “protecting taxpayers” who don’t support reproductive rights.”

    The real plan of pro-lifers is to save lives, those in the womb. We will not stop until the mills are closed down and abortion is illegal once again. This is not about reproductive rights…it is about life and responsiblity and doing what is right. More and more women are choosing life and that infuriates those on the left who champion abortion. Abortion kills a living human being. Women have choices….if they do not want to get pregnant options are there. But if a child is conceived then the right thing to do would be to have the child.

     

  • concernedinmn

    I think we’re failing to see the difference between prenatal care expenses, child birthing expenses, and abortion expenses…

    Prenatal and child birth expenses are paid to parents that have decided to take on the responsibility of bringing a baby into the world. Whether on purpose or not, they are choosing to take the parenting responsibility that is a direct result of their “actions”, to be modest. This situation then makes it purely a health care issue.

    I think we can agree that an abortion, whether or not you are pro-choice, is in most cases used as remedy to a situation that was accidentally created through a lack of responsibility. In those cases, should the tax payer really be responsible for those costs?

    It doesn’t seem correct that you should be financially responsible for my mistakes in the bedroom anymore than you should be financially responsible for my mistakes made behind the wheel of a car. Would you be willing to pay expenses for a chemically impaired driver who damages their vehicle and who also happens to be impoverished? Perhaps they should pay for it themselves and learn the lesson? That person chose to drive impaired, should they not suffer the consequences? I feel if someone chooses to have sex for reasons beyond actually wanting to have a child, they should also face the consequences. If they cannot afford an abortion, they should carry the child to term and give it up for adoption. In this scenario their costs will be covered through the adoption process or through medical assistance programs. This would quiet the social conservatives that do not believe abortion is right. In addition, it would help drive responsibility without creating further economic hardship.

    Please tell me how this logic is incorrect. I do ask that you don’t tell me it will create an increase in “home remedy”. My own pro-choice leaning family has lost a member for this reason, even with abortion being a readily accessible option. I don’t think that is a strong argument.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Hopefully Dayton will veto any proposed legislation and/or the Dems swaying votes their way. It cracks me up about the names Republicans use for these types of bills, like “To repeal the job-killing health care law” and “Taxpayer Protection Act.” Like it’s “protecting” me from something. I would pay more in taxes to cover healthcare for all that includes a full range of care, INCLUDING abortion.

    I’m glad you’re back at RHRC. How is Sebastian? I hope your little bundle of joy and your family are doing well.

  • rebellious-grrl

    The real plan of pro-lifers is to save lives, those in the womb.

    Once they are born you don’t give a crap about them.

    We will not stop until the mills are closed down and abortion is illegal once again. This is not about reproductive rights…it is about life and responsiblity and doing what is right. More and more women are choosing life and that infuriates those on the left who champion abortion.

    And we won’t stop fighting the antis. This IS about reproductive rights. It’s about the full equality of women and bodily autonomy. Not being FORCED to give birth. “Pro-life” is forced birth. As someone who “champions abortion” I’m happy for women that want to have a child. It is their choice. I don’t shame them for having children and I don’t shame women that have abortions.

    Abortion kills a living human being. Women have choices….if they do not want to get pregnant options are there. But if a child is conceived then the right thing to do would be to have the child.

    Abortion IS NOT murder. It’s a fetus not a person. If you don’t want to become pregnant use birth control, yes. But sometimes birth control doesn’t work. Forcing a woman to give birth is NOT THE RIGHT THING. It is morally wrong. Churchmouse, quit the blame and shame game. Your misogynistic song and dance isn’t working here.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Birth control fails, or there is a lack of access to birth control, pregnancy can be the result of rape/insest/sexual abuse. 

    What do you mean by “those cases?” Tax payers pay for a lot of things they are opposed to. I’d love to opt out of paying for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. I hate the fact that my tax dollars funded Halliburton.

    Perhaps they should pay for it themselves and learn the lesson?….I feel if someone chooses to have sex for reasons beyond actually wanting to have a child, they should also face the consequences.

    You want us to go back to the 1950s. You’re opposed to non-procreative sex.

    If they cannot afford an abortion, they should carry the child to term and give it up for adoption.

    Oh Sure, because that’s so much less expensive for the tax payer. Do you propose bringing back orphanages too? It’s “so much” cheeper to force a woman to give birth. <yes, massive sarcasm>

    Legislating that women give up their right to control their reproduction is more expensive in the end. That’s why this whole anti-abortion legislation being disguised as a “tax saving measure” is just crap.

  • ldan

    Your logic…is not so much.

     

    If we go with your position that an unplanned pregnancy is the result of irresponsibility (setting aside questions of education, access, coercion, and just plain ‘oops’), and that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the results of that irresponsibility. How are you asserting that we should support parenting vs. abortion? Aren’t we rewarding irresponsibility either way? How is one strictly a health care issue and the other isn’t? You advance zero logic for that statement.

     

    I’m getting from your argument that you believe it’s ok for taxpayer dollars to go to women who carry to term because we’re rewarding them for taking on the responsibility of parenting. Um..how about the responsibility to not tax burdened systems (personal and institutional) with an additional person? How is choosing abortion not dealing responsibly with the outcome of an unplanned pregnancy? How is it better for society to pay for all those additional unwanted children? There is zero fiscal argument for favoring forced childbirth over abortion as far as public funding goes. Hell, what if I would prefer that my tax dollars go to abortions…those responsible women who aren’t burdening the planet with another little consumer? Isn’t that as valid an argument as the ‘no tax dollars for abortions’ people?

     

    The car analogy is flawed in that we do, in fact, already pay for irresponsible drivers. When I was younger, my rates were way higher than my own driving skills and caution warranted, simply due to the statistics for people my age. If an uninsured driver hits me, my insurance is only going to deal with it if I picked up the proper type of insurance. It’s even separated out so I can see just how much my insurance company thinks it’s worth to cover my chances of being hit by an uninsured driver. In most states, they will suffer legal consequences because there are laws against driving without insurance. But if they don’t have the money to pay for damages, there is very little I can do to get it from them…it simply isn’t there. Similarly, making women pay $$ as their ‘consequence’ is rather pointless when the money just isn’t there.

     

    Again, somehow your logic states that having an abortion = not dealing with the consequences. Please tell me how this adds up? Are you telling me that you do not deem everything involved in getting an abortion to be consequences? And what, pray tell, are the consequences for the men involved in these ‘irresponsible’ pregnancies?

     

    I get the distinct feeling that you believe children are the appropriate punishment women get for having sex, that 18 years of that punishment are the appropriate consequence for a broken condom or missed pill. So you’re for life imprisonment for petty theft too, eh? Not to mention…how wonderful for those children to grow up knowing they’re mom’s ‘sentence’. Yike. I’m rather pleased to know my mom *chose* to have me.

  • churchmouse

    I can’t work in every aspect of every issue of our day, it would be impossible. I choose to work where I am. I know people who do take in children and also work at crisis pregnancy centers. You use this as a lame excuse. What do you do to help mankind? Do you just sit on the internet hour after hour and bash those who do work hard for all mankind or do you do something of worth?

    I can only imagine what you might think would be worthwhile…I wont ask.

    We are not talking about having a tooth extracted here. We are not talking about getting your tonsils out or appendix removed but a life started.

    How can you  ever understand? You probably never will because of your worldview. How sad that is.

    My song and dance….?

    LOL

    I love watching pro-aborts scramble and get upset. When they don’t know what to say and their back is against the wall…they start calling names.

    If you think I am going to stop…..think again.

  • churchmouse

    This can’t be a baby…………haha

  • rebellious-grrl

    You are such a jerk. Yes, it’s a BABY. Pro-choice women DO have children.

  • goatini

    is the very loud voice of a very small rabble of brainwashed cult members, led by vicious power-hungry manipulators, attempting to legislate medieval superstition into US law.

    It matters absolutely ZERO to me in my daily life if a woman with an unwanted pregnancy CHOOSES to submit to an involuntary servitude carrying a huge amount of high risk to health, then collaborates with quasi-legal human traffickers to donate a child that will be put up for sale to the most sanctimonious bidders, because of an unfounded belief in an imaginary Sky Daddy.

    I am saddened that evil people have so much power over these impressionable low-information women, in a day and age where such beliefs are truly vestigal, and in many cases, actually controvert the law of the land. But it’s a free country (at least I like to think it is) and I can’t force people to become educated and cultivate critical thinking.

    What is infuriating is that these vicious power-hungry cult leaders, and their pathetic followers, want to reduce all women to nothing but fertilized egg containers.

  • goatini

    with a DUI car wreck????

    Last time I checked, an unwanted pregnancy isn’t a CRIME.

  • goatini

    for all WOMANKIND.

  • goatini

    don’t you know that WANTED and PLANNED children are only going to grow up to be slaves of Satan? Those educated, rational moms are hell-bent to make sure their kids don’t get all wrapped up in superstitious BS and unhealthy desires to control the lives of others.

    Only unwanted, unplanned pregnancies have the potential to impose on susceptible women the level of guilt, shame and worthlessness needed to easily coerce them into involuntary servitude, then allow the child to be stolen for profit into a human trafficking network.

    And if they should fail in securing the inventory, unwanted parenthood and the attendant poverty and feeling of helplessness have the potential to turn the woman into a willing cult recruit. She’ll be sufficiently demoralized, and desperate enough to cling to any shred of acceptance that the cult leaders will dole out to her impoverished spirit. She’ll be a easy mark.

  • nonsense-nonsense

    I hope the above post is a really poor attempt at satire. You mention a very small but very vocal and brainwashed cult following. Would that happen to be pro-choice since, last I checked, pro-choice is the minority position, even among women?

  • goatini

    requires the individual to be well-educated, socially and emotionally intelligent, and capable of critical thought.

    Which also explains why there are no successful RW comedians.

  • rebellious-grrl

    What do you do to help mankind? Do you just sit on the internet hour after hour and bash those who do work hard for all mankind or do you do something of worth?

    That’s a hypocritical statement from someone who spends a lot of time posting here.

  • churchmouse

    Am I hitting a nerve grrl? If so good.

    Yes they do have babies…..that in itself is a miracle considering their worldviews on life.

    I wonder how many will tell their children their positions on abortion, especially if they have had one?

    Oh thats right……..they are proud of abortion.

     

     

  • ninevehuk

    <i>We are not talking about having a tooth extracted here. We are not talking about getting your tonsils out or appendix removed</i>

     

    Good point. Unlike pregnancy and childbirth, tonsillectomy, appendectomy, and removal of teeth seldom lead to death or disablement of the woman. So let’s stop performing these operations! After all, hardly anyone dies of tonsillitis these days, clearly removing tonsils is totally unnecessary.

  • ninevehuk

    Not at present. But it has been in the past (indeed within living memory women have suffered life imprisonment as a result) and it will be again if anti-choicers have their way.

  • ninevehuk

    Sorry, “within living memory” is incorrect. There are women alive today who have suffered imprisonment and forced labour in my country (UK, also Ireland) for becoming pregnant.

  • churchmouse

    Unfortunately