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Bill that would limit state money for abortions OK'd by Minnesota Senate

Another bill adding new license requirements for abortion clinics was also approved.

Two bills that together limit how much state money pays for abortions and add new requirements for abortion clinics are one step away from becoming law – but the governor appears ready to make sure that doesn't happen.

The Minnesota Senate, which is majority Republican by a 34-33 margin, voted on and passed two bills Thursday afternoon.

As a brief summary, one would require clinics that perform abortions to follow new licensing requirements and pay a fee.

The other would prohibit state-funded health insurance programs for low-income people – such as Medical Assistance, Minnesota's Medicaid program – from paying for abortions. (There would be a few exceptions, like if the mother's life was in danger.)

You can read about more details in the bills here.

Both passed the Senate 35-29 (see the roll calls here), and basically split along party lines – all Republicans plus one DFLer (Sen. Kent Eken) voted in favor of the bills, while 29 Democrats voted against. (Three didn't vote.) The House passed the bills with similar party support and opposition.

The governor says he'll veto them

Supporters of the new licensing requirements argue it’s a way to make sure abortion facilities are safer for women. And those in favor of the state-funded abortion limitations say that money shouldn't be used for a medical procedure that more than one-third of Americans think should be illegal.

Opponents of both measures say the proposals are attacks on women's reproductive health rights, and that if the bills become law, they'll limit access to safe abortion procedures.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, sides with the opponents.

He vetoed abortion access and funding limitations lawmakers approved in 2011, and has signaled publicly in recent weeks he'll do the same with these two bills. He reiterated that stance to WCCO Thursday.

Lawmakers can override a governor’s veto, by getting two-thirds of legislators in both the House and Senate to vote for it. But while Republicans have a majority, they don’t have two-thirds of all the seats.

That means some Democrats would have to split from their party and join GOP lawmakers in order to push the bills through a veto – something that doesn’t seem likely.

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