Minnesota Catholic Conference shares concerns ahead of Friday’s vote on S.F. 1

Minnesota Catholic Conference
Contact: Maggee Hangge, Public Relations Associate
c: 952-846-8602, [email protected]

Jan. 26, 2023

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Minnesota Catholic Conference shares concerns ahead of Friday’s vote on S.F. 1

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, laments the passage in the House of H.F. 1, which not only puts a right to an abortion in state statute, but also creates a more general right to “reproductive freedom” and “reproductive healthcare.” 

The Catholic bishops of Minnesota, who make up the conference, have written to all legislators expressing their opposition to the legislation and urging them to vote no. They hope that the Minnesota Senate will turn away from abortion extremism after the saddening vote in the House. Letter: https://www.mncatholic.org/bishops_letter_to_legislators_on_hf1_sf1

The bishops share: “We are disappointed to see the quick pace at which these destructive bills are moving, and we hope to give legislators pause. When contemplating policy on any issue, we must consider all those who will be affected. In this case, that includes the mother, father, and most especially, the unborn child whose life is being taken.”

The bishops continued: “In a post-Dobbs world in which states that allow abortion have the responsibility to both regulate the practice and protect nascent human life, we should be working to find common ground on the challenges before us in Minnesota. We stand firm that every child should be welcomed in life and protected by law.”

Watch: Archbishop Bernard Hebda urges Catholic to contact legislators about S.F. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbMQvkXWzT0

“We urge legislators to take more time and understand what it is that they are passing,” said Jason Adkins, Minnesota Catholic Conference executive director.  “It’s understandable that the new DFL majorities in the Legislature want to do something abortion-related given their almost singular focus on the issue during the last election campaign, but they are opening up a Pandora’s Box of potential public safety, bioethical, and legal challenges with this broad language.  For one, it does not even make a distinction between minors and adults.  And abortion is already protected by our court system.  As a statute can always be stricken in the future, we would encourage the Legislature to abandon this legislation so it does not cause further unforeseen harm.”

Beyond abortion, the bill directs state courts to protect the “fundamental right” to reproductive freedom, thereby opening the door to a host of fertility treatments, regardless of the wisdom or ethics of those technologies or procedures. Adkins noted: “In all the passion around abortion, the open-ended definition of reproductive healthcare and freedom has gone unnoticed by many observers and legislators, but its impact could be enormous.”

Likely outcomes:

  • Minor children will be able to be sterilized without parental consent or notice;
  • Beyond what is already permissible, minors will be able to receive hormonal contraceptives, medical treatments, and sex-transition therapies without parental consent;
  • New lawsuits in the courts related to the scope of this fundamental right at the intersection of bioethics and new reproductive and fertility treatments; and
  • Infringement on the conscience and religious liberty rights of individual and institutional medical providers who do not wish to provide these treatments.

Potential outcomes:

  • Taxpayer-funded reproductive healthcare for low-income persons;
  • Mandated insurance coverage of a broad scope of reproductive healthcare, even for religiously affiliated employers; and
  • Judicial recognition of surrogacy contracts, effectively legalizing the industry in Minnesota without legislative consent.

The codification of a broad right to an abortion up to birth is a terrible setback to building a culture of life in Minnesota that protects the most vulnerable. “This bill goes farther than just ‘codifying Roe,’ and instead works to enshrine into law an abortion regime that disregards prenatal human life, even the life of a pre-born child whose heart is beating, who can feel pain, and who is viable outside the womb,” said Maggee Hangge, Minnesota Catholic Conference policy associate, in her testimony

As the bishops say in their letter, we need to build common ground for the common good.  Unfortunately, separate legislation (H.F. 91/S.F. 70) goes even further than H.F. 1 and would repeal many common-sense, bi-partisan regulations around abortion, including a law to limit abortions after a baby is viable in the womb to only those situations in which the life of the mother is jeopardized.  In their letter, the bishops specifically call out post-viability abortions as a point of hoped-for common ground on this issue.  This position was rejected in the House, which did not agree to amend the legislation even to limit third-trimester abortions.  

The bishops also note that we must all “work together to limit the demand for abortion and properly welcome children into the world.”  Among other things, that means policies that fund: nutritional aid for expectant mothers; healthcare coverage during and after pregnancy for both mother and child; childcare assistance; and adequate housing. Enacting reasonable paid family and caregiver leave laws would help people retain work and care for their newborns.

Minnesota Catholic Conference has also put forward an ambitious set of policy proposals built to promote childbearing and family life called the Families First Project (familiesfirstproject.com).

“We hope the Legislature will slow down its rush to pass this bill and instead reconsider what it means to give people a real choice when weighing their pregnancy options, including the choice to keep their child and help him or her flourish,” Hangge concluded.

More information can be found at mncatholic.org.


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