Minnesota Governor Vetoes Anti-Abortion TRAP Legislation

Amidst a slew of anti-choice legislative activity at the state level in 2012, Minnesota’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill (S.F. 1921, H.F. 2340) requiring clinics that provide at least ten abortion procedures per month to be licensed by the state Department of Health. This legislation, and others of its kind, are commonly is referred to as “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” or TRAP, laws. The bill passed in the State Senate by a vote of 43–23 and in the House of Representatives by a vote of 81–40.[1] The clinics also would be subjected to two inspections each year, with no advance notice required, and pay an annual licensure fee of $3,712.[2] In addition, the clinics no longer would be able to provide primary and preventive care services, as they would be defined as outpatient surgical centers.[3] Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a member of the state’s Democratic–Farmer–Labor party, vetoed the bill on April 26, 2012.

In the statement accompanying his veto, Governor Dayton identified several reasons for his opposition to the bill. He expressed concern that the language of the bill was overly vague, particularly that a clinic could have its license suspended or revoked for “conduct or practices detrimental to the welfare of the patient.”[4] He deemed this provision to “permit complaints to be filed against health care providers for almost any reason.”[5]

Governor Dayton questioned the need for any of Minnesota’s 1,250 clinics to be regulated, as the doctors and nurses already are subject to strict licensing requirements and the facilities must abide by rules for laboratories, safety, and building requirements that are set by various state and federal agencies. In addition, the state’s six clinics that provide abortion services are subject to clinical policy standards set by the National Abortion Federation and must be inspected at least every five years. As such, he stated that a “lack of oversight of clinics that provide abortion is not an issue.”[6] In addition, he objected to the fact that the legislation applied only to clinics that provide abortion rather than all clinics, affirming that, “no clinic or procedure should be the focus of special and unique regulatory requirements.[7] Finally, he expressed concern that the legislation would violate a woman’s right to privacy, which is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The legislature has vowed to override Governor Dayton’s veto. To do so, the measure would have to gain at least two votes in the Senate and eight votes in the House, as a two-thirds vote is required in each body to override a veto by the governor.


[1]“SF1921 Status in Senate for Legislative Session 87,” Minnesota State Legislature (last updated 26 April 2012), accessed 30 April 2012, <https://www.revisor.mn.gov/revisor/pages/search_status/status_detail.php?b=Senate&f=SF1921&ssn=0&y=2011>.
[2]S.F. 1921 § 1(4)(3), 3 April 2012, accessed 30 April 2012, <https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1921.3.html&session=ls87>.
[3]Letter from Governor Mark Dayton to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, 26 April 2012, accessed 30 April 2012, <http://mn.gov/governor/images/ch_233_sf_1921_veto_letter.pdf>.
[4]S.F. 1921 § 1(4)(3), ibid.
[5]Letter from Governor Mark Dayton to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, ibid.

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