Venkata: While we weren’t watching

Minnesota lawmakers have been whittling away at human rights.

Morgan La Casse

Morgan La Casse

Uma Venkata

I had some time to kill last week and had forgotten the Minnesota Daily crossword, so I picked up a copy of the Minneapolis City Pages. On the inside front cover was an ad bought by an organization called Unrestrict Minnesota. They had printed a PSA about abortion restrictions that are currently in place in our state.

I learned from this page and the associated website that Minnesota mandates a script that doctors must relay to patients seeking abortion services, unlike any other medical procedure, and requires a 24-hour waiting period. The state of Minnesota also refers to the fetus as an “unborn child,” which sounds exploitative and misleading. Doctors must also include men’s obligation to pay child support. Minors trying to undergo abortion must notify both parents, regardless of any relationship. Should the minor be unable to contact both parents, they must go through the judicial circuit to obtain permission prior to undergoing the procedure. I’m sure this law was born out of “common-sense” legislation, but it defies any realistic common sense at all. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against these laws, partly because they tend to delay the procedure until late in the pregnancy. This permission and notification requirement does not apply to other medical events like substance-abuse treatment, STI testing, and childbirth, according to Unrestrict MN. I would think that we could all agree that minors have no business being pregnant, and a minor’s pregnancy is a blaring indication of greater problems, but here we are.

Five clinics inside the state of Minnesota provide legal abortions. Currently, Minnesota has ten doctors who are legally allowed to perform them; 98 are the “crisis pregnancy center” types that steer people away from abortion while claiming to assist them, according to Unrestrict MN. It is illegal for advanced-practice clinicians trained in abortions to deliver abortions in Minnesota and many other states. The State Commissioner of Health collects information on the age, race, marital status, education levels, income, number of children and previous abortions and miscarriages, and the procedure payment method from patients who have undergone abortion according to Unrestrict MN.

And, beautifully, the Minnesota Supreme Court found in 1995 that Minnesotans have the right to abort, the right to decide to abort, and that the government has no place in influencing that decision in either direction. Yet, all of the above laws passed since then, and hundreds more, exist to sway Minnesotans away from aborting safely. 

Ask a nurse about what happens when people have no access to safe abortions. Theoretically, those stories should be concentrated in the experiences of retired nurses. But the more legal abortion is restricted today, the more people die in the primitive catch-22.

Abortion is not about taking lives when they’re inconvenient to keep. Warfare is. Abortion is about trusting the only person who can truly know what they’re capable of to remove a collection of cells, before it can grow into a living being who deserves a truly valid chance at life. Restricting abortion is for who doesn’t have the money to circumvent the rules — because nothing will ever be forbidden to those who do. Restricting abortion is about keeping those part of a lower socio-economic background inside that cycle. Restricting abortion is about making sure that those with no money, no agency, no power, will never be able to lift themselves, then others, up because at the hands of someone else. They are beholden by a new life and thus virtually all of their already strained energy and assets are funneled into providing what little they can. The poor are kept poor. Poor people remain ignored. This is convenient to the people who make laws that restrict abortion. 

I understand the opposition. No one honestly thinks they’re doing the wrong thing. Unless you’re profiting from war or disease, in which case you have to be extremely dense to misconstrue those ethics, and at that point you probably wouldn’t be a profiteer. But please know that those who are pregnant are sentient, lucid and intelligent people, too. And ending a pregnancy is one of the hardest feats a person can go through, so the stakes are higher than anyone other than that person can possibly comprehend. Trust them.