Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help available 24 hours a day. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 988 or 800-273-8255.
Both the Minnesota House and Senate held hearings Tuesday on a bill that would enshrine abortion access in Minnesota law.
The Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act would guarantee a woman’s “fundamental right” to abort her baby for any reason up to the moment of birth. Democrats have made the bill their top priority this session and are fast-tracking the legislation through the committee process.
But that didn’t stop pro-life advocates from turning out in force for 8:30 a.m. hearings Tuesday before the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
One woman, Brenda Mann Archiquette, shared her own personal history with abortion. She said she became pregnant for the first time at the age of 17 after she was drugged and raped by her boss. She decided to keep the baby.
In a House hearing today on HF1, a bill that would codify and allow abortion up until the moment of birth, Brenda Mann Archiquette shared her struggles with mental illness and drugs after having two abortions, before her testimony was cut off. pic.twitter.com/3EUKUVRRuJ
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) January 10, 2023
She was later forced into sex trafficking and became pregnant again, this time deciding to abort the baby.
“The guilt and the shame consumed me. I felt completely worthless and that my life had little value. After the abortion my life went totally downhill. Soon I was involved in a lifestyle I am not proud of. I made many poor choices. I tried to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol,” she said.
“Besides these addictions, I developed various eating disorders, and led for a time a life of promiscuity from my low self-esteem. This lifestyle led to me becoming pregnant again and I had another abortion. That abortion nearly killed me. I hemorrhaged and nearly died and had to have an emergency hysterectomy. After I physically recovered, for years I continued to grieve the loss of these children,” she continued.
Archiquette said she later attempted suicide but found peace after decades of counseling and medication.
“Besides the children whose voice is not being heard, I am speaking today on behalf of all the women who have been lied to about how an abortion will not affect them,” she said. “What I know is the effect of abortion is not just physical. The mental and emotional trauma lasts a lifetime.”
Prominent pro-life attorney Teresa Collett also spoke at the hearing, saying the bill would “result in litigation regarding a wide variety of issues.”
“Because of the speed with which this bill is passing throughout the Legislature, it’s simply not possible for people to get notice of the hearing and prepare adequately for the testimony,” she later added.
Each public testifier was limited to 90 seconds of speaking time.
“We did notice this with plenty of time as is in our rules,” Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, chair of the committee, responded.
Dr. Paul Post, a retired family physician who practiced in Minnesota for 40 years, said the “language of the bill is quite extreme.”
“There are numerous, well-documented studies that demonstrate that preborn children can experience pain as early as 24 weeks, perhaps earlier,” said Post, who delivered 900 babies throughout his career.
“The bill makes no mention of restricting late-term abortion,” he added. “I cannot think of a single instance of life-threatening complications in the third-trimester where the mother’s life could not be saved by delivering the baby prematurely.”
Democrats on the committee rejected amendments to prohibit partial-birth abortions and third-trimester abortions.
“This is not a bill to codify Roe. It is a bill to go significantly further,” said Rep. Harry Niska.
The bill will next go to the House State and Local Government Committee for a hearing on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. In the Senate, the bill will be before the State and Local Government and Veterans Committee on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.