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Minn. Legislature Advances Abortion Regulations

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature is rushing to finish its work before adjourning this week.

On Wednesday, they were passing controversial abortion bills. Both the House and Senate approved different abortion measures despite facing vetoes from the governor. In the House and Senate, abortion critics call these “women’s safety issues.”

But supporters of legal abortion say they are deliberate attempts by the House and Senate to do anything possible to slow down abortion providers.

It’s a reaction to a grisly abortion story in Pennsylvania, where several women died at a clinic.

In Minnesota, there haven’t been any problems, but abortion opponents say there could be.

“I will say that we have been fortunate to not have any major disastrous reports coming from our current clinics. But this is why you put regulations in place, to make sure that this does not ever happen, to make sure others are not put at risk,” said Sen. Claire Robling of Jordan.

The licensing bill would affect clinics performing 10 or more abortions a month. Seven clinics in Minnesota would be charged a licensing fee of about $3,700.

The House measure requires a physician to be in the room when a woman takes an abortion-inducing drug, like RU486. Supporters are calling it a women’s health issue.

“If the argument is that we are going to let women take a drug and all of a sudden this will go away, this is a very serious and dangerous drug and we just don’t want to take this lightly,” said Rep. Joyce Peppin of Rogers.

Critics said the measure is part of a nationwide effort to limit women from terminating their pregnancies and say it’s not as dangerous as many other drugs.

“There are fewer deaths from this drug than Viagra or even Tylenol. Certainly having a medical abortion is less dangerous than having a live birth,” said Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester.

The House defeated an amendment that would put sexual activity by men under the same restrictions. Representative Phyllis Kahn tried to require medical supervision for men who take Viagra.

Kahn has also proposed the men be required to get counseling before they have a vasectomy, similar to counseling for women who get abortions.

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