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When Minnesota passed its Woman’s Right to Know law in 2003, it became the first state in the nation to require that women be provided with information on the ability of their unborn child to feel pain.
In 2005, Minnesota continued to be a leader by being one of only a few states to require that women 20 weeks or later in pregnancy be offered pain-reducing medication for their unborn child. A woman could either accept or reject the medication. This provision, added to the existing Woman’s Right to Know law, is called the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act.
Legislation quietly moves through process
Introduced on Jan. 13, 2005 (H.F. 235: Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie / S.F. 331: Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville), the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act received little public notice. The bill received only a single hearing, in the House Health Policy and Finance committee on March 23. The bill, although supported by a majority of committee members, did not receive a vote as it was laid over for possible inclusion in the Health Policy and Finance omnibus bill.
Throughout the legislative process, pro-lifers described in detail the ability of the unborn child to feel pain, while opponents of the legislation said very little in an attempt to avoid a large public discussion (and thus realization) of the existence of fetal pain. Unfortunately, this strategy would have been largely successful if not for MCCL’s public information campaign on fetal pain.
The Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act was included in the House version of the omnibus bill. However, due to partisan issues, the regular 2005 legislative session ended without passage of the bill.
Fetal pain bill not forgotten during special session, passed into law
A special session of the Legislature was called in July 2005, during which time a new omnibus bill was created. The details of the omnibus bill were negotiated by leadership of the House and Senate and the governor, even before the special session began. While these negotiations were taking place, MCCL pushed for inclusion of the fetal pain legislation. In the end, the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act was included in the agreed-upon items.
This pre-negotiated omnibus bill (H.F. 139), including the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act, was passed by the House (88-40) and Senate (60-6) on July 13, 2005. Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the bill into law the following day.
For additional information, please see Fetal Pain During Abortion.
Please see Woman’s Right to Know, for more information on fetal pain.
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