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Minnesota Legislature

Vetoed: Abortions after 20 weeks gestation

Published (7/15/2011)
By Hank Long
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Developments over the last few decades in prenatal medical technology have found that at as early as 20 weeks gestation, a human fetus can feel pain. That’s the contention of those who support the so-called “Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” But critics, including Gov. Mark Dayton, believe the legislation would have infringed upon a woman’s basic right to health and safety. Dayton, who vetoed the bill, said it would have forced doctors to make critical medical decisions, but prevented them from considering the best interests of their patients.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas), the bill would have made an exception for instances where it can be medically proven that the survival of the fetus poses a greater risk of death to the woman or of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Findings of fact related to scientific research that supports the legislation were contained within the bill.

Doctors who perform an abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization would have been charged with a felony offense, under the bill. No penalty would have been assessed against the woman upon whom an abortion is performed or induced or attempted to be performed or induced.

The bill would have created in the special revenue fund an account entitled the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” litigation account for the purpose of providing funds to pay for any costs and expenses incurred by the state attorney general in relation to actions surrounding its defense.

HF936*/ SF649/CH59

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