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Minnesota

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending or referring physician orally, in person or by telephone, (1) informs her of the probable gestational age of the "unborn child"; (2) describes the medical risks associated with the proposed procedure, including, when medically accurate, infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, danger to subsequent pregnancies, and infertility; (3) describes the risks of carrying the pregnancy to term; and (4) for abortion services provided after the fetus has reached a gestational age of 20 weeks, the physician must tell the woman that anesthesia is available to alleviate possible fetal pain.

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, the woman must receive a state-mandated lecture by the physician or physician's agent, by telephone or in person, that must include:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion; and (3) that she has a right to review state-prepared materials that describe the "unborn child," list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and contain information on "fetal pain." 

The state-prepared materials must:  (1) describe the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival; (2) describe the medical risks associated with the proposed procedure and with carrying a pregnancy to term; (3) state that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care and that the "father" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for an abortion; (4) provide a comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services, including adoption agencies, available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent or provide a toll-free 24-hour hotline that can be called to obtain such a list; and (5) describe for a fetus of 20 weeks gestation or more, the development of the fetal nervous system and the capacity of the fetus to feel pain, in an objective, nonjudgmental, and scientifically accurate way.

Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 145.4241, .4242 (Enacted 2003; Last amended 2006), .4243 (Enacted 2003).

The state-prepared materials include enlarged color photographs of fetuses.  Minn. Dep't Of Health, Division Of Family Health, If You Are Pregnant, Information on Fetal Development, Abortion and Alternatives (Apr. 2004).

In addition, an earlier law provides that no abortion may be provided unless the woman consents after a full explanation of the procedure and its effect.   Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 145.412(subd.1)(4) (Enacted 1974).  A court held that this law is constitutional. Hodgson v. Lawson, 542 F.2d 1350 (8th Cir. 1976).


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