ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Minnesota Senate agreed Monday to send a bill to Gov. Jesse Ventura that would impose a 24-hour waiting period on abortions and require doctors to provide patients detailed information about the procedure and alternatives.
People on both sides of the issue regard the bill -- which supporters call a woman's ''right to know'' -- as the most significant abortion measure to pass the House and Senate in recent memory. It was unclear whether Ventura will sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature. He has until Saturday to decide.
It passed the Senate on a 37-30 vote after a debate that saw 34 senators weigh in with personal accounts or impassioned appeals. Many of those who didn't speak shared their opinions by wearing buttons. Activists on both sides rallied outside the chamber before the session opened.
''This bill is a hurdle, an obstacle disguised as a right,'' said Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park.
Under the bill, women seeking abortions must receive information that describes medical risks, alternatives to abortion, fetal development, the father's responsibilities and pregnancy prevention. Physicians or nurses must provide the information at least one day before a scheduled abortion.
The bill contains exemptions for medical emergencies, but not rape or incest -- something not lost on Connie Perpich, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood.
''Pregnancies, problems with pregnancies, women's decisions surrounding whether to carry to term or to terminate do not fit one-size-fits-all, state-scripted materials,'' she said.
Sen. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd, and other supporters said it asks little considering the stakes involved.
''Any time that I have to see a physician about a medical procedure, I usually have to wait a whole lot longer than 24 hours,'' Samuelson said.
Opponents argue that the bill would lead to harassment, lawsuits and other actions that restrict abortions. They call the legislation the ''women are stupid'' bill because, they said, it assumes they will not seek information on their own.
Sen. Michelle Fishbach, R-Paynesville, said the opposite is true.
''Without this bill, we're trying to keep our women stupid by not telling them, by not informing them what's going on,'' she said. ''What are we trying to hide from these women?''
Debate surrounded the process as well as the bill's content. The abortion language was attached to another bill in the House late Wednesday night. The Senate, which passed a voluntary waiting period earlier this session, was required to approve the amended bill or send it to conference committee.
House Republican leaders pressed a vote on the mandatory waiting period after working with Ventura's staff to craft language they believed he could support.
''It would be my assumption and hope that the governor signs that bill,'' said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, who thought Ventura's staff signed off on the bill before the House vote.
Ventura has said he opposes a waiting period or other abortion restrictions, but he has kept silent on the specific bill. The platform of his Independence Party says abortion is a personal decision.
Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, said the bill would restrict abortions by making it easier for abortion opponents to tie up clinics' phone lines with false inquiries. The bill also allows people to seek injunctions against clinics that violate the waiting period or that don't provide adequate information. A violation of the injunction could result in fines.
''If this 'women are stupid' bill is enacted, I think the well-organized extremist opponents of abortion will have a field day,'' Ranum said.
Nineteen states, including Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, have waiting periods ranging from one hour to three days. Some studies have shown that abortions have decreased in those states by as much as 20 percent. But opponents cite research that shows abortions increasing in neighboring states.
The bill is SF3387 and can be found at http://www.leg.state.mn.us.
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