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Attacks on Choice
Banning the Constitutional Right to Choose
In 1995, the Minnesota State Supreme Court found that the state constitution provides greater protection for a woman’s right to choose than the federal Constitution. This ruling meant that the state’s public health coverage for low-income women cannot selectively discriminate as to which pregnancy-related services it will pay for. If the state will pay for childbirth, it must also pay for abortion services.
In 2013, our opponents once again introduced a bill to repeal this constitutional right. While the bill wasn’t heard in committee, it was also introduced as a floor amendment to the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill in the Senate, where it failed 36-28.
NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota continues to defend legislative attempts to challenge this ruling and restrict low-income women’s access to abortion.
Limiting Access to Abortion Services
· Attempts at banning abortion coverage in health insurance plans came up in both the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange Bill (H.F. 5) and the Market Rules bill (H.F. 779). These bans would have prohibited health insurance plans participating in the exchange from offering abortion coverage. One amendment would have also forced survivors of rape to report the rape to the government within 48 hours to ensure abortion coverage, while survivors of incest would be required to report the incident and relative to the government before obtaining an abortion to receive coverage. These amendments are attempts to dictate to private insurance carriers what services they are allowed to offer in their plans, and were blatant attacks to eliminate coverage of basic reproductive health services for women in Minnesota. The Affordable Care Act is an historic opportunity to enhance women’s health care coverage, including coverage of maternity care, cancer screenings, and birth control. It is not meant to take away coverage that women might have currently have today, and NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota continues to fight any attempt to take away these services.
· In 2013 there was an attempt to add a "Refusal” clause (sometimes called a "conscience” clause) to the HHS omnibus bill, which would permit a broad range of individuals– including any individual who is licensed to practice medicine, any nurse, nursing assistant, medical school student, professional, paraprofessional, or any other individual who provides or assists in the providing of health care services – to refuse to perform, recommend, refer, assist, receive or provide training for, prescribe or dispense health care. The methods/procedures outlined in this amendment include, but are not limited to, the prescribing and dispensing of contraceptives or the participation in abortion, sterilization, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, hormone treatment, or surrogacy procedure.
TRAP: Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers
TRAP provisions place onerous licensing regulations on abortion facilities and doctors. Once again, in 2013 a TRAP bill was introduced. While it was not heard in committee, it became a floor amendment on both the House and Senate in the HHS Omnibus bill. It passed the House, failed in the Senate, and was removed from the final version of the bill.
We’ve seen TRAP bills introduced in state legislatures across the union. While anti-choice forces claim this legislation is needed for women’s safety, it is in fact just another attempt to burden abortion providers and their patients. These laws impose unnecessary and burdensome regulations on abortion providers – but not other medical professionals. In the attempt to shut down medical professionals providing safe, legal abortion services, these laws make abortion care more expensive and difficult to obtain leaving women’s lives and safety at risk. While TRAP laws may seem innocuous or well-intentioned, they are politically motivated attempts to restrict women’s access to abortion.
All of these amendments and attacks are a part of our opposition’s "incremental approach” to outlaw abortion, and while they did not outright ban any procedure in the state, all amendments were designed to harass abortion providers, and make services more difficult and expensive for women.
NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota worked tirelessly at the Capitol to prevent these amendments from making it onto the final versions of the Health Insurance Exchange, HHS omnibus and the Market Rules bills, and fought all other attempts to limit a woman’s ability to make health care decisions that are best for herself, her situation, and her family.