People protest against Georgia’s “heartbeat” bill at the Capitol building. The law would prohibit nearly all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected and was set to take effect on Jan. 1 until a federal court blocked it. It’s currently under appeal. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images.
A bill has been introduced in Minnesota that is similar to one in Texas that bans abortions and allows people to bring civil action against anyone who violates the law, or even intends to do so.
The bill is unlikely to pass the House, which is controlled by Democrats.
Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, sponsored the bill, which bans abortions once a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected, although doctors say there is no cardiovascular system or heartbeat that early in a pregnancy and what is being heard is electrical activity.
The bill contains language similar to a Texas law that allows people to sue anyone who “aids or abets” such abortions, rather than having government officials enforce the law. The Minnesota bill would not allow civil actions to be brought by a person who impregnated another person through rape, sexual assault or incest.
That has made it difficult for abortion providers to bring legal challenges, although one is pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Miller has introduced legislation since 2018 that would make abortions after a heartbeat is detected a gross midemeanor. This time, he modeled the bill after the Texas law that has gone into effect, while legal challenges work through the court system.
While Miller knows the bill won’t pass the Democrat-controlled House, much less be signed by the governor, he wants lawmakers to discuss the issue as Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.
“The point of me presenting this bill is we need to have a conversation of what that fetus is when a heartbeat is present,” he said. “We don’t have that conversation… I am on the side of defending life and so I’m going to engage in the conversation.”
He noted that a Ramsey County lawsuit seeks to eliminate abortion restrictions in Minnesota.
Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, tweeted that it took “exactly one day” for Republicans to introduce an abortion ban, saying, “Make no mistake, reproductive care is under attack in (Minnesota), and the time is now to stand up and fight.”
Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, chair of the House Health Finance & Policy Committee, released a statement calling the bill a “Texas-style radical anti-abortion bill” that comes as the U.S. Supreme Court “seems poised to throw out 50 years of settled law that allows the person who is pregnant – not politicians – to decide whether to have an abortion.”
“This is a warning to Minnesotans of what will happen if Republicans get control of the Legislature and the governor’s office,” Liebling said. “They will go to extremes to stop pregnant Minnesotans from accessing the full range of pregnancy care, including the right to a safe, convenient abortion. Minnesotans deserve the right to make decisions about abortion based on their own values and priorities, without interference from politicians.”
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