Fanning the Flames

The abortion debate quietly smolders at the capitol

Marty's bill, he argues, contends that family planning grants reduce the need for abortions by educating women about their reproductive health. It's a bill he thinks pro-lifers should support. "This legislation would single-handedly prevent more abortions than all the restrictions MCCL and the antiabortion lobby have passed in the last 30 years," Marty says.

While the bill was passed in one Senate committee and referred to another, Marty concedes it has little chance of becoming law this year because of the money it requires. But it's his intent to have it passed in the next couple of years. Whether it passes or not, Marty believes it does balance the debate.

Finally, yet another piece of this battle is the proposed repeal of something called minor's consent. Current law allows teenagers to keep medical information about sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies confidential; conservatives want to do away with it altogether. While the bill attacking minor's consent garnered attention, it wasn't passed out of its Senate committee. No doubt, some legislators hope to see it live another day.

The move to repeal minor's consent is as duplicitous as the Taxpayer act. In most cases, a separate state law already requires pregnant teenagers seeking abortions to tell both of their parents. Abortion is not the issue. It's about what kinds of health care information are disseminated, and those who favor the repeal of minor's consent want to control the discussion. In other words, it dovetails nicely with the fuss over family planning grants.

Meanwhile, the fight over reproduction is raging elsewhere. With the news last month that the South Dakota legislature blatantly challenged Roe vs. Wade by passing a bill to make most abortions illegal, a woman's right to choose remains under fire. With partisans on both sides watching as the South Dakota measure wends its way toward the courts, it's certain that reproductive rights are being chipped away here in Minnesota.

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