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Abortion Opponents: House Republicans Could Help The Cause

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Abortion opponents both in and outside of the Minnesota Legislature say a Republican majority in the House this year could help them make small steps toward their larger goal of banning taxpayer funding for the practice.

The optimism comes despite a Democratic-controlled Senate and despite Gov. Mark Dayton saying he doesn't see himself signing any new abortion restrictions.

About 500 people showed up for the annual Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life rally outside the state Capitol on Thursday, which marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision establishing a nationwide right to abortion.

Among them were more than 50 Republican legislators, some of whom said the group's less explosive legislative priorities could have a shot of making it past the governor.

Dayton, a Democrat, in 2012 vetoed a bill that would have required state licensure and inspection of abortion clinics, one of the goals the anti-abortion nonprofit has laid out for the legislative session.

But the issue has gained traction since then, said Rep. Tara Mack.

"This is a very intrusive procedure," the Apple Valley Republican said. "The fact that it's not licensed and regulated is extremely concerning for the health and safety of women."

Rep. Erin Murphy said Minnesota's current laws on abortion clinics are enough and anything further would only make it harder for women to access the procedure.

Murphy, a Democrat from St. Paul, thinks MCCL's proposals will make it through the Republican House but would fall flat at the governor's office.

But there's a good chance the group could successfully push for more funding of a state program that allows mothers to give up newborns without any repercussions, said MCCL communications director Bill Poehler.

A Dayton spokesman was noncommittal when asked whether the governor would consider such a push.

The number of abortions performed in the state peaked at about 19,000 25 years ago and had declined to a little less than 10,000 as of 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach pointed to those numbers in a speech at the rally as proof of the nonprofit's success.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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