Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 96% of Minnesotans don’t know the abortion laws of the state. For years, lawmakers in our state have been quietly passing laws that restrict abortion access, intimidate providers, mislead patients, and increase costs – and many have passed unnoticed. It also doesn’t help that abortion is one of the most stigmatized procedures in health care. The political rhetoric and misinformation about it have led many to just not talk about it. But we need to.
In Minnesota, our oldest abortion restriction law still in effect was enacted in 1905, and legislators have been proposing and passing restrictions ever since. Since 1995, lawmakers in Minnesota have proposed nearly 400 new anti-abortion laws. One of them passed as a surprise, last minute amendment to a bill about circuses in 2003. No, that’s not a joke.
Abortion also doesn’t get a lot of news coverage, and when it does show up in the news, it’s largely covered as a political issue rather than the personal health care issue that it is. A recent study showed that the personal experiences of people who have had abortions represent only 4% of news coverage about abortion. What’s more, inflammatory terms created to further a political agenda and are not used or recognized by the medical community continue to dominate coverage and distort public discussion. For years, abortion has been singled out and regulated differently because of some people’s political beliefs. It’s time for that to change.