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Franson's abortion bill brings out emotional testimony

State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, turned to a personal story as she tried to convince fellow lawmakers to support her bill limiting abortion funding on March 2.

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Mary Franson
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State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, turned to a personal story as she tried to convince fellow lawmakers to support her bill limiting abortion funding on March 2.

The Alexandria Republican told of when she was 20, she was married and suspected she was pregnant. She and a friend went to a Duluth Target store, bought a pregnancy kit and went into a store restroom, where she discovered she was expecting.

Franson was going to college at the time and the pregnancy wasn't planned.

"What am I going to do?" she asked herself.

It worked out, she said.

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"I finished college, but it was tough," Franson said. "What pulled me through that was the hope that I was given by my grandparents, my friends ... and, of course, the willpower to prove people wrong who had been against me my whole entire life."

Franson said that when she discovered she was pregnant, "I took responsibility."

"She will be 19 in May," she said of the daughter who came from that pregnancy.

Franson's bill wouldn't ban abortion. It's intended to prevent the state from funding abortions for women on Medical Assistance except in cases of rape, incest, or when necessary to save the mother's life.

Franson said the legislation respects the position of Minnesotans who oppose abortion and brings the state in line with federal policy that prevents the federal government from funding abortion services.

"I believe that women deserve better than abortion. Providing free abortions does nothing to help women. It leaves them exactly in the same place, but without one of their children," Franson told committee members, adding that supportive services, like targeted home visits, are more effective at helping pregnant women in need.

When later contacted by the Echo Press, Franson declined to comment further on her personal story but added another reason why she is sponsoring the bill: "My district is one of the most pro-life in the state," she said.

Her bill, HF809, passed a committee vote 14-8. The vote closely followed party lines, though Rep. Julie Sandstede, DFL-Hibbing. voted in favor.

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The bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee and was advanced to the general register on March 16 where it could be brought before the House for a floor vote in the future.

A companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, has been approved by both the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee and awaits action on the Senate Floor.

Minnesota passed a law similar to Franson's in 1978, but it was struck down by a lower court ruling in 1994. The decision was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1995, making public funds available to low-income women on Medical Assistance seeking abortion services, according to Andrea Rau, legislative director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

The decision could only be reversed by the court or through a constitutional amendment, said Andrea Ledger, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.

Al Edenloff of the Echo Press contributed to this report. Information was also provided by the Minnesota House of Representatives' public information service.

Related Topics: ABORTION
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