It’s a busy time of year for St. Paul residents Susan and John Neuville, parents of five children, including two teenage girls. As the school year began, they faced a growing stack of permission slips and release forms for their children’s sports clubs and activities.
“I’m required to supply the name of another adult to contact in case of emergency to advise on treatment if I’m unreachable,” Susan said. Without adult permission, her children cannot go on a field trip, have their photo taken, receive basic dental care, be vaccinated or be served ice cream.
“What I would like to understand is how it would make any sense to have that same child decide whether or not to have an abortion,” she said during a news conference at the Minnesota Capitol Sept. 13. “Wouldn’t this be the most critical time to ensure that she has the best support available, most likely her own parents?”
On July 11, a Ramsey County District Court judge struck six protections regarding abortion — long-standing laws passed through the legislative process with bipartisan support, said Maggee Hangge, policy and public relations associate at Minnesota Catholic Conference. The law requiring that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor, for example, had been in place for 41 years. The 2003 woman’s right to know law, also struck down, required that women know the gestational age of their unborn child, the risks of carrying the child to term and of the abortion procedure, and that they be offered information on the baby’s development and alternatives to abortion.
A pro-life group called MOMS — Mothers Offering Maternal Support, a group of about 50 mothers of at least one minor daughter — held the news conference decrying the judge’s decision. Susan Neuville is a member of the group.
Teresa Collett, a law professor and director of the Prolife Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, is serving in a private capacity as lead counsel for MOMS. She filed a motion to intervene as a party to the lawsuit on behalf of the MOMS group Sept. 12 because only those who are party to a lawsuit can appeal a court ruling, Collett said.
The motion to intervene covered the four protections that specifically pertained to MOMS’ interest in protecting the health and safety of their daughters: parental notification, informed consent, physicians only and the waiting period.
While the MOMS arguments to intervene were expected to face an uphill battle, Hangge said, “these MOMS have stepped in where public officials have failed to lead. That is a witness that should inspire all of us.”
Susan Neuville’s husband, John, is the son of the late Tom Neuville, a Catholic Republican state senator in Minnesota for 17 years (1991-2008) who ran on a pro-life platform in Northfield in 1990, Susan said. He believed in the sanctity of life and defending the rights of the mother and unborn, and coauthored the woman’s right to know legislation in 2003 that now has been declared unconstitutional, Susan said.
A tooth filling can be replaced, Susan said, but a life ended through abortion cannot be revived.
“I believe that all women, especially those underage, should be empowered with a complete understanding of the important aspects of any medical procedure and especially one that is irreversible, potentially life ending and bearing lifelong consequences.”
Another member of MOMS, Barbara Waldorf, a mother of seven, including four daughters, also spoke at the news conference. Her late father-in-law, Gene Waldorf, a Democrat state legislator from the east side of St. Paul (House, 1977-1980; Senate, 1981-1992), authored the two-parent notification bill in 1981.
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