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Five anti-choice bills would especially burden low-income women

The decision to continue a pregnancy must always be the choice of the person who is pregnant, regardless of her financial resources.

A law mandating widened hallways at abortion providers has nothing to do with protecting women’s health.

Minnesotans firmly embrace family, personal decision-making and health. These common values make us proud to be from a state that reflects them in its laws and policies.

Karen Law

Yet every year, abortion opponents seek to undermine these core values by limiting the reproductive health choices for those who do not have the financial means to access an abortion. This session, Minnesota lawmakers have introduced five anti-choice bills. Their goal: to make abortion less accessible in our state.

Two identical bills, SF 800 and HF 607, would bar Medicaid and other public health programs in the state from covering abortion services, policies that would disproportionally impact low-income women. Two TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion provider) laws have been introduced with medically unnecessary requirements, such as widening hallways and adding additional restrooms). These bills would make abortion more expensive or even put some providers out of business. In sum, these bills would make it impossible for so many low-income women in Minnesota to access safe abortion care.

Seen as first step

Andrea Ledger

Whether they use bills like these, legislative amendments, budgetary maneuvers or legal challenges, those who want to end safe, legal abortion repeatedly try blocking the most financially vulnerable from abortion, hoping it may act as a first step in ending legal abortion altogether.

Recently, the Minnesota State Court of Appeals again reaffirmed Doe v. Gomez, the 1995 case that declared that the decision to have an abortion couldn’t be limited only to those who have the financial ability to pay for it. In the dismissal, the judge wrote that a woman’s right to health care services includes being able to choose health care services necessary to terminate or to continue a pregnancy without interference from the state. This idea has been lost on abortion opponents of the state, and these bills would place a remarkable burden on poor women and their families.

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Every day we talk with women who need help accessing abortion care, making an adoption plan or connecting to parenting services. We know firsthand that forcing a poor woman to remain pregnant and give birth not because she wants to, but because she had no choice in the matter, is not only against our state’s values of justice and compassion, but it can push a family deeper into poverty. That hurts all of us.

Forcing a pregnant person to continue an unwanted pregnancy is not a Minnesota value. From the election of politicians who support upholding Doe to the repeated defeat of legislative bills to end Medicaid funding, Minnesotans again and again show that they believe that the right to determine when and if a woman should give birth remains solely in her own hands.

Must be the pregnant woman’s decision

We know that each pregnancy, intended or not, comes with its own complexities and complications — some surmountable, others not. We know that for these reasons the decision to continue a pregnancy must always be the choice of the person who is pregnant, regardless of her financial resources, and we work together to ensure that whether she chooses abortion or birth, she receives quality medical care, compassion and support in all situations.

The amount of money a person has or doesn’t have should not prohibit her from having an abortion. The ability for each person to make health care decisions for herself, without coercion by politicians or other outsiders, is truly a Minnesotan value.

Karen Law is the executive director of Pro-Choice Resources. Andrea Ledger is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.


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