Americans United for Life’s Litigation Counsel Carolyn McDonnell, M.A., J.D. submitted written testimony today in opposition to radical abortion legislation being proposed in Minnesota, H.F. 1, “Protect Reproductive Options Act.” You can read the full written testimony here.
The Bill Is Radical and Protects Abortion on Demand Up Until the Baby’s Birth Date
The MN bill creates a fundamental right for “[e]very individual . . . to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health,” including “obtain[ing] an abortion” and abortion referrals. There are no gestational limits nor qualifications within this language. Rather, this bill authorizes abortion on demand up until the baby’s birth date. Notably, only five jurisdictions explicitly endorse abortion on demand throughout pregnancy, and three of these states have done so through a popular referendum to the state constitution, not legislative fiat. The bill goes well beyond the overruled decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which only licensed abortion through viability.
The Bill Infringes on Parental Rights, Which the United States Constitution Protects Under the Fourteenth Amendment
Under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Parental rights have a rich history of constitutional protection under the Due Process Clause. “The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.” “[Supreme Court] decisions establish that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”
Yet, the bill enables an unemancipated minor to access abortion services without parental involvement, which subverts parents’ constitutional rights to the care and upbringing of their minor pregnant daughters. Under the Supremacy Clause, the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” This means that a state statute cannot infringe upon the Constitution’s protection of parental rights. Accordingly, the bill is unconstitutional by infringing upon parental rights.
The Bill Subverts Federal Conscience Protections
The bill raises serious conscience rights issues. Under Subdivision 2, “reproductive health care” includes both abortion and abortion counseling. Yet, the bill is silent as to whether medical professionals may conscientiously object to the unfettered “fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health.” Although the Minnesota Constitution has conscience protections, and state law separately has protections for medical professionals and hospitals to conscientiously object to providing abortions, the bill raises issues of conscientious objections to abortion referrals, counseling, funding, and insurance coverage.
The Bill Severely Limits Minnesota’s Ability to Ensure Women’s Informed Consent and Prevent Domestic Violence
The decision to abort one’s unborn child is a life-altering decision, and informed consent is critical to this decision. In its basic definition, informed consent “is a process by which the treating health care provider discloses appropriate information to a competent patient so that the patient may make a voluntary choice to accept or refuse treatment.” A woman cannot agree to medical treatment unless she is “competent, adequately informed and not coerced” in giving informed consent. If one considers abortion “medicine,” then healthcare professionals must receive a woman’s voluntary, informed consent before inducing an abortion.
Read the full written testimony of Carolyn McDonnell, M.A., J.D.Litigation Counsel, Americans United for LifeIn Opposition to H.F. 1, “Protect Reproductive Options Act” Submitted to Health Finance and Policy Committee.