Minnesota State Sen. Michelle Benson’s (R-Ham Lake) bill to protect unborn children capable of feeling pain from abortions received its first hearing Thursday, but Planned Parenthood and its allied activists in the state are doing everything they can to kill the bill.
Senate File (SF) 1609 was introduced February 21 and currently has four Republican cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) and Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point).
The bill would prohibit abortions in the state at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is generally considered to be when an unborn child can feel pain.
“By eight weeks after fertilization, an unborn child reacts to touch. After 20 weeks, an unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example by recoiling,” SF 1609 states.
It then challenges the view of some medical experts that an “unborn child is incapable of experiencing pain until a point later in pregnancy than 20 weeks.” This view, according to the bill, “rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex.”
“However, recent medical research and analysis, especially since 2007, provides strong evidence for the conclusion that a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain. Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain,” it continues.
It concludes by stating that there “is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization,” and it is thus the “purpose of the state to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates they are capable of feeling pain.”
“Except in the case of a medical emergency, no abortion shall be performed or induced or be attempted to be performed or induced unless the physician performing or inducing it has first made a determination of the probable postfertilization age of the unborn child or relied upon such a determination made by another physician,” the bill stipulates.
On Thursday, the bill received its first hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. In response, Planned Parenthood issued an action alert, requesting that its supporters “pack the hearing room and oppose SF 1609.”
🚨ACTION ALERT🚨 Join us TODAY at 3 p.m. in Senate Room 1200 to pack the hearing room and oppose #SF1609, which would ban abortion at 20 weeks, threatening the health of patients as it goes before the Senate HHS Finance and Policy Committee. #mnleg #HF1312 pic.twitter.com/roti3gZYpV
— Planned Parenthood (@ppmn) March 14, 2019
For those who couldn’t attend the hearing, Planned Parenthood has drafted a form email that it is asking Minnesotans to send to their legislators.
“This unconstitutional legislation threatens the health of patients and criminalizes doctors in an effort to challenge longstanding, United States Supreme Court and Minnesota Supreme Court precedence regarding access to safe and legal abortion,” that email states. “This ban would take private health decisions out of the hands of patients and doctors, at a time when a patient and their doctor need every medical option available to them.”
Prior to the hearing, a group of Democratic legislators and their supporters called a press conference to condemn Benson’s bill.
“Reproductive health care is basic health care for Minnesotans. House DFLers are committed to protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care in Minnesota,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) said.
Today Minnesota Legislators and supporters are gathering to denounce efforts by Senate Republicans to ban abortion later in pregnancy and to applaud the Minnesota House leadership for standing up for affordable, accessible birth control for Minnesotans. #mnleg pic.twitter.com/clgkmm21BT
— Planned Parenthood (@ppmn) March 14, 2019
Sen. Susan Kent (D-Woodbury) said “Minnesotans need to continue to have that choice and physicians need to be able to make decisions in the best interests of their patients, free of interference by politicians.”
“I urge my colleagues to set aside the bills to ban abortion and instead hear bills that will help prevent abortion. Support bills that will protect access to no-cost birth control and strengthen the family planning clinic safety net across the state,” she added.
Siri Fiebiger, vice chair of the Minnesota Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Alissa Light, board president of the Reproductive Health Alliance, also spoke at the press conference.
– – –