Questions and Answers

1. What requirements take effect on July 1, 2003?

The physician who is to perform the abortion or the referring physician is responsible to inform the female, by telephone or in person, at least 24 hours before the abortion, of the following information:

  • The particular medical risks associated with the abortion procedure to be employed, including, when medically accurate, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, danger to subsequent pregnancies and infertility.
  • The probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed.
  • The medical risks associated with carrying her child to term.

The physician who is to perform the abortion, the referring physician, or an agent of either physician is responsible to inform the female by telephone or in person (may be provided by tape recording if provision is made to record or otherwise register specifically whether the female does or does not choose to have the printed materials given or mailed to her) at least 24 hours before the abortion of the following:

  • That medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care.
  • That the father is liable to assist in the support of her child, even in instances when the father has offered to pay for the abortion.

The female must certify in writing, prior to the abortion, that all of the required information has been furnished to her. The physician who is to perform the abortion or the physician’s agent must obtain a copy of the required written certification and retain it on file with the female’s medical record for at least three years.

2. What materials must the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have available within 90 days of the effective date (7/1/03) of this legislation?

MDH is responsible for having the following information available on a secure web site and through printed materials by September 29, 2003:

  • Geographically indexed materials designed to inform the female of public and private agencies and services available to assist her through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent, including adoption agencies. The list will include a list of the agencies, the services they offer, and how they may be contacted, including telephone numbers.
  • Materials designed to inform the female of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from the time when a female can be known to be pregnant to full term, including any relevant information on the possibility of the unborn child’s survival. Materials must also contain information describing the methods of abortion procedures commonly employed, the medical risks commonly associated with each procedure, the possible detrimental psychological effects of abortion, and the medical risks commonly associated with carrying a child to term.
  • Materials providing information concerning an unborn child of 20 weeks gestational age and at two weeks gestational increments thereafter covering the development of the nervous system, fetal responsiveness to adverse stimuli and other indications of capacity to experience organic pain, and the impact on fetal organic pain of each of the methods of abortion procedures commonly employed at this stage of pregnancy.

MDH is also responsible for preparing by September 29, 2003, a reporting form for physicians that includes a reprint of the Woman’s Right to Know Act and lists the following:

  • The number of females to whom the physician provided information on the particular medical risks associated with the abortion procedure to be employed, including, when medically accurate, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, breast cancer, danger to subsequent pregnancies and infertility, the probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed, and the medical risks associated with carrying her child to term. Of this number, the number provided by telephone and the number provided in person, and the number provided in the capacity of a referring physician and the number provided in the capacity of a physician who is to perform the abortion.
  • The number of females to whom the physician or an agent of the physician provided information that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care, that the father is liable to assist in the support of her child, even in instances when the father has offered to pay for the abortion and that she has a right to review the printed materials developed by MDH. Of this number, the number provided by telephone and the number provided in person, the number provided in the capacity of a referring physician and the number provided in the capacity of a physician who is to perform the abortion; and of each of those numbers, the number provided by the physician and the number provided by the agent of the physician.
  • The number of females who request a copy of the printed materials available from MDH other than on the web site and the number who did not, and of each of those numbers, the number who, to the best of the reporting physician’s information and belief, went on to obtain an abortion.
  • The number of abortions performed by the physician in which information otherwise required to be provided at least 24 hours before the abortion was not so provided because an immediate abortion was necessary to avert the female’s death and the number of abortions in which such information was not so provided because a delay would create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

3. What additional responsibilities do physicians have when the printed information is available from MDH?

When printed information is available from MDH, the physician who is to perform the abortion, the referring physician, or an agent of either physician is responsible to inform the female, by telephone or in person (the information may be provided by a tape recording if provision is made to record or otherwise register specifically whether the female does or does not choose to have the printed materials given or mailed to her), at least 24 hours before the abortion.

  • That the female has the right to review the printed materials and that the materials are available on a state-sponsored web site, and what the web site address is. The physician or the physician’s agent shall orally inform the female that the materials have been provided by the state of Minnesota and that they describe the unborn child, list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and contain information on fetal pain.
  • If the female chooses to view the materials other than on the web site, they shall either be given to her at least 24 hours before the abortion or mailed to her at least 72 hours before the abortion by certified mail, restricted delivery to addressee, which means the postal employee can only deliver the mail to the addressee.
  • The female must certify in writing, prior to the abortion, that all of the required information has been furnished to her. The physician who is to perform the abortion or the physician’s agent must obtain a copy of the required written certification and retain it on file with the female’s medical record for at least three years.

4. What is the procedure in case of a medical emergency?

When a medical emergency compels the performance of an abortion, the physician shall inform the female, prior to the abortion if possible, of the medical indications supporting the physician’s judgment that an abortion is necessary to avert her death or that a 24 hour delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

5. When do reporting requirements begin?

Physicians must begin reporting activities January 1, 2004.

6. When will physicians receive the reporting forms?

MDH is required to provide reporting forms to all physicians licensed to practice in Minnesota by December 1, 2003, and by December 1 of each subsequent year thereafter. MDH is also required to provide reporting forms to physicians who subsequently become newly licensed to practice in this state at the same time as official notification to that physician that the physician is so licensed.

7. Will MDH supply physicians and other interested individuals with copies of the printed materials?

Yes, MDH will make the printed materials available at no cost upon request.

8. Will the printed materials be available in other languages?

Yes, the printed materials will initially be available in English and in Spanish.