What you should know about the 2 abortion bills approved by the MN House

What the bills do, arguments for and against them, and what needs to happen for them to become law.
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A bill that limits state funding of abortions and another that adds new licensing requirements for abortion clinics in Minnesota were passed by the Minnesota House Monday.

Each of the proposals was spearheaded by Republican lawmakers (who have a 77-57 majority in the House right now), with most Democrats voting against the bills.

Here we take a look at what each bill does, the arguments for and against, and what has to happen for them to become law.

Limiting state funding for abortions

The first bill state representatives discussed would ban state-sponsored health programs from paying for abortions. It specifically would apply to the estimated 830,000 people who get health insurance through Medical Assistance (which is Minnesota's Medicaid program). Medical Assistance is specifically put in place to provide health care access to people with low incomes.

It passed 77-54, with mostly Republicans voting for it and mostly Democrats voting against.

One argument from supporters is that Minnesota taxes shouldn't be used to pay for abortions – a procedure that about 59 percent of American adults say should be legal, and 37 percent think should be illegal, according to Pew Research. Among those supporting the new limits is the anti-abortion group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which says those abortions cost the state more than $1 million.

“I believe that women deserve better than abortion. Providing free abortions does nothing to help women. It leaves them exactly in the same place, but without one of their children," said Rep. Mary Franson in earlier discussions about the bill.

Opponents however (like DFL Rep. John Lesch) argue it's an attack on women's reproductive and health care rights, and point out the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1995 ruled women on Medical Assistance can't be denied coverage for abortions.

The Department of Human Services says there were 9,861 reported abortions in 2015. This fiscal note (a document from Minnesota Management and Budget that estimates cost savings or expenses for proposed bills) says that same year, Medical Assistance paid for 4,157 abortions that did not qualify for federal funding.

The funding ban would not apply in cases where the mother's life was at risk, or incidents of rape or incest.

Requiring new licensing

The second bill state representatives discussed would add new licensing requirements and fees for abortion clinics (defined as facilities that do at least 10 abortions a month, and are not a hospital or surgical center). It would mean starting July 1 of 2018, those clinics would have to apply for a license with the state's commissioner of health, pay a $345 licensing fee every two years, and prove they're accredited with a member organization.

It passed 79-53, again with mostly Republicans in favor and little DFL support.

Supporters say it's a way to make sure abortion facilities are safer for women, and Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life points out the clinical standards that will allow a facility to get a license are what Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation lay out.

Planned Parenthood Minnesota action fund came out against the bill, saying four out of Minnesota's five abortion clinics would close, including the sole clinic in greater Minnesota. DFLers also accused the GOP supporters of the bill of simply playing politics and targeting abortions.

Will they become law?

Both bills still have to go to the Senate, and get approval from the governor, before possibly becoming law.

If the full Senate (which is also majority Republican, by one seat) approves them without making any changes, they would then go to Gov. Mark Dayton.

The governor could then sign them, making them law. Or he can veto them – which he has indicated he will do, if they even get that far.

Lawmakers can override a governor's veto, by getting two-thirds of legislators in both the House and Senate to vote in favor of 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.

In the House alone, David Montgomery of the Pioneer Press notes only four DFLers voted in favor of the abortion bills Monday. And some Democrats joined abortion rights groups at the Capitol beforehand for a rally speaking out against the bills.

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