Senate committee passes new restrictions on abortion

A Minnesota Senate panel has approved a bill that would prevent taxpayer money from paying for abortions.

Republicans on the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee passed the measure on an 8-5 party line vote Tuesday. The bill would prohibit public dollars from paying for abortions for low-income women on state-funded health care programs.

The bill also designates original jurisdiction with the state Supreme Court on any constitutional challenges. Republican Sen. Dave Thompson of Lakeville insisted that the designation is appropriate.

"The issue is does the Minnesota state Constitution require taxpayers to fund elective abortions," Thompson said. "That doesn't require fact finding. That is a legal question that can be handled by the Supreme Court without taking evidence in a district court setting."

DFL Sen. Ron Latz of St. Louis Park argued that the bill was missing a fiscal analysis of the cost of potential lawsuits.

"Litigation of this nature will have an impact, Latz said. "It will require multiple staff in the attorney general's office to handle, and I think we as a committee have an obligation to at least find out what that expense would be before we pass a bill along that may have fiscal impact."

The GOP-controlled panel also approved a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Both bills are now headed to the Senate floor. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is not expected to sign either bill.

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