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Tags: Minnesota | Abortion | Bill | Fails | Probably | Will | Resurface

Minnesota Abortion Bill Fails, Probably Will Resurface

Thursday, 05 April 2001 12:00 AM

But supporters and opponents expect some form of the bill, known as "informed consent," to pass in the House and resurface elsewhere in the Senate.

"This bill isn't over until the last day of the session," said Jackie Schwietz, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state's largest abortion opposition group.

Said Tim Stanley, executive director of the Minnesota affiliate of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), "We will see this again this year."

The informed consent bill is one of the key legislative initiatives of abortion opponents.

A similar version passed both houses last year but was vetoed by Gov. Jesse Ventura, who pledges the same action if the bill reaches his desk this year.

The Senate Health and Family Security Committee voted 7-4 against the measure, preceded by often impassioned debate.

The Senate sponsor, Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said the bill doesn't prohibit abortions but gives women the chance to receive more information about an often complex and traumatic operation. "This is a medical procedure. The women of Minnesota should be informed," she said.

But Sen. John Hottinger, DFL-Mankato, said the bill infringes on what doctors must say to their patients.

"Is there a reason that we, as state legislators, should dictate to a physician what they say about a medical procedure?"

The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), while steering clear of the moral debate about abortion, has raised concerns about the bill, saying it intrudes on the physician-patient relationship.

"This is not required for any other medical procedure. This is a very dangerous precedent and is simply not necessary," the association wrote in a memo distributed to the committee.

But Dr. Steve Calvin, a specialist in maternal/fetal medicine and chairman of the Program in Human Rights in Medicine at the University of Minnesota, submitted a letter to the committee in support of the bill.

"The MMA objections to this legislation do not square with my personal experience," he wrote. "They seem to be motivated by a desire to obstruct the provision of any information which may cause a woman to choose to not have an abortion."

Opponents of the measure said a provision requiring the name of the physician who would perform the procedure to be given to a woman 24 hours in advance is designed to intimidate physicians and "sets a tone of state-sanctioned harassment."

Stanley, of Minnesota NARAL, said it also could have a chilling effect on medical students who might consider performing abortions in their practices but fear repercussions by activists opposed to abortion.

Abortion rights supporters pointed to a recent federal appeals court ruling that an Internet site run by militant abortion opponents and filled with threatening content is protected by the First Amendment. "The Nuremberg Files," found on the Internet, contains the names, addresses and photos of some physicians in the format of a "wanted" poster and accuses them of crimes against humanity.

Fischbach reacted angrily over the issue, saying that she didn't condone the direct action behavior and that the MCCL didn't either.

"My bill is not to harass someone or intimidate someone," she said. "I do not appreciate that you're trying to imply that there is some intent other than to provide information about physicians."

A hearing on another abortion-related initiative was postponed Wednesday. The bill would allow motorists to buy "Choose Life" license plates to support women facing unplanned pregnancies who plan to place their babies for adoption. The bill will be heard in the House Transportation Finance Committee in two weeks, said Rep. Carol Molnau, R-Chaska, chairwoman of the committee.

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But supporters and opponents expect some form of the bill, known as informed consent, to pass in the House and resurface elsewhere in the Senate. This bill isn't over until the last day of the session, said Jackie Schwietz, executive director of Minnesota Citizens...
Thursday, 05 April 2001 12:00 AM
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