Politics is often derided as more circus than substance. But this time the State Legislature has outdone itself. Attached to a bill that would repeal a ban on circuses during the Minnesota State Fair is legislation that would require women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion. No matter where the legislation is attached, if passed, it would prove to be another act of bureaucracy satisfying narrow interests rather than addressing more imperative issues.
Circuses aside, the waiting period legislation, often called “Women’s Right to Know,” has two main problems. First, it assumes women have not already spent anguished hours contemplating alternatives. It assumes abortions are performed on a whim. To the contrary, having an abortion is a weighty decision not taken lightly.
A second major fault is that the law assigns the government the role of content purveyor. Undoubtedly, the content provided will contain unstated bias. Whether making the abortion too light of a decision or stigmatizing women for making the choice, the literature will have a subjective slant. Government should not have a role in dispersing this propaganda. The subjectivity of the content provided will be under constant debate and legislation. Lobbyists on both ends of the spectrum will argue for their polar position of the abortion debate. It is doubtful and inappropriate that the state will attempt to strike the balance between stigmatizing women and allowing what is a lawful decision.
“Women’s Right to Know” is yet another instance of legislation of curious purpose. It mandates time for reflection which has already occurred. It requires information which will be subjectively tainted. And most perniciously, it assumes a woman cannot make a decision for herself. The Legislature should leave this inept bill to languish on the floor and concentrate its efforts on the real issues of our day.