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Abortion Waiting Period Bill Advances
By Laura McCallum, Minnesota Public Radio
March 28, 2001
Part of MPR's coverage of Session 2001

Just days before the first legislative committee deadline, abortion bills are gaining strength at the Capitol. A bill to create a special Choose Life license plate, and one to require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion cleared their first legislative hurdle. But Gov. Ventura says he'll veto both bills if they land on his desk.
Jennifer Draper of Cambridge, mother of five, testified in favor of the "women's right to know" bill. She said she got little information when she had an abortion when she was 22. Listen to her testimony.
(MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)

ON MPR'S MIDDAY program, the governor said government shouldn't restrict a woman's right to have an abortion.

"That is an individual's decision to make, it is within the law, the Supreme Court of the United States says that the right for a woman to choose whether to have a child or not is up to her. That's the law," he said.

Supporters of the 24-hour waiting period say the bill doesn't restrict access to abortions, but simply requires providers to give women information on the procedure.

Jennifer Draper of Cambridge, a mother of five children, says she knew nothing about the procedure when she had an abortion at the age of 22.

"I really believe that there are women out there every day that just need the information, and they need to know, because once it's done, it's an irreversible decision, and if you find this information out afterwards, it doesn't help you one bit," she told the committee. Several House Democrats made a similar argument in the House Transportation Committee, which approved the license plate bill on a divided voice vote.

But opponents say the bill is redundant, because abortion providers already give women information on the procedure.

Rep. Betty Folliard, DFL-Hopkins, says legislators are wasting their time debating a bill the governor plans to veto.

The House Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill on an 11-5 vote. Both the House and Senate have a majority of members opposed to legalized abortion, which means any anti-abortion bills have a decent shot at passing.

Gov. Ventura stands in the way of such measures with his veto pen. He says he's also opposed to the other abortion bill making its way through the Legislature, which would create a bright yellow license plate featuring the faces of two children and the slogan Choose Life. Its proceeds would go to adoption-related programs. Ventura says anything dealing with abortion is a political football.

"I don't think that's it's right for government to start printing up license plates dealing with political issues. I mean, then are you going to have plates that say, 'Cut my taxes?'" the governor said.

"I don't think that's it's right for government to start printing up license plates dealing with political issues. I mean, then are you going to have plates that say, 'Cut my taxes?'"

- Gov. Ventura

Rep. Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, says the bill sets a bad precedent. "I would assume as soon as we get this one, Planned Parenthood's going to be coming in with their own license plate next year. Who else is it? I think license plates are for a reason; it's not there to be advertising," he said.

But supporters of the bill say critics are trying to divert attention from the message of the plates, which shouldn't be political. Jackie Schwietz, executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, says both sides in the abortion debate should be able to agree on the merits of adoption.

"The whole thing is designed to throw out red herrings so people don't talk about the real issue here. And the issue is adoption. The issue is helping women make choices for adoption," she said.

The plates haven't had a hearing yet in the Senate, but Schwietz says supporters will cross that bridge after the first committee deadline on Friday.