Republican supporters of restriction chide DFLers during legislative maneuvering
BY RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER
The Minnesota Senate on Monday passed a state finance bill and, through legislative maneuvering, avoided a debate on a measure that would have challenged women's court-upheld right to abortion.
The abortion measure, backed by the state's largest anti-abortion organization, would have defied a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that granted abortions to low-income women through state-subsidized health care.
After hours of closed-door meetings over the past several days, Senate Democrats opted to remove all human services funding from the $127 million supplemental spending bill. Without that language, the anti-abortion measure wasn't relevant to the bill.
The measure would likely have denied all taxpayer-funded abortions in Minnesota except in cases of rape or incest and required a public record of judges' authorizations for minors to get abortions without parental consent.
On the Senate floor Monday night, Democrats did little to discuss the reasoning behind the removal of the human services financing. But Republicans did much to attack it.
Sen. Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, alluded to the abortion measure he had planned to ask senators to vote upon, and he was blunt.
"Not only don't you have any leadership, not only don't you have any direction, now you don't have any courage," he said.
Supporters also promised that the abortion language, which has already passed the House, would return.
"Quite simply, you can run but you can't hide from this issue," said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said the health and human services measure will return to the floor at some point and there will likely be opportunity to try to attach the abortion language to that.
Despite Republicans' disappointment in the process, the supplemental finance bill passed 64-3.