Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bonoff leaves Grieving Parents Act behind

Sen. Terri Bonoff and Ashwin Madia, who will vie for the DFL endorsement for the Third Congressional District tomorrow, will debate today on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday, at 11:00 am (91.1 KNOW-FM in the Twin Cities).

State Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) has removed her name as chief author of the Grieving Parents Act, SF 1739, a very short bill designed to address a simple yet often devastating problem: giving mothers information about burial and cremation options in the case of a miscarriage.

Miscarriage happens, yet parents are often left confused and without a clue about their options, even as they deal with grief and disappointment. Prenatal classes are focused on the birth process and infant care. Sometimes they are informed of their options, sometimes they are not. This bill would ensure that no parents are left in the latter situation. Many hospitals and clinics are likely already in compliance. Minimal effort would be required to bring the rest in line.

The companion bill in the House has been through committee hearings with bipartisan support, gaining co-authors from both parties, and had its second reading in that body. Pro-choice groups are officially neutral on this bill, as they have been on similar bills in other states. So why has the Senate version, with its first reading on March 12, not even had a hearing in committee — with Bonoff, a member of the majority party and until recently the bill's chief author?

Last Saturday, on their "Final Word" radio show on AM 1280 The Patriot, King Banaian and Michael Brodkorb interviewed the two women who are the bill's main citizen advocates: Sandy Maclean and Elizabeth Levang. Brodkorb is covering this developing issue extensively in his blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Although partisan politics is certainly part and parcel of this environment, Maclean and Levang clearly had no partisan agenda by coming forward. They simply want their bill passed and signed into law, thereby at least somewhat easing the pain of other parents dealing with future miscarriages.

Do hospitals and clinics need another regulation? That's a question that should be debated, so why not move the bill into committee hearings so that debate can occur?

Maclean and Levang say that Bonoff basically gave them the brushoff when confronted with the inaction on this bill in the Senate, and when they heard (not from Bonoff) that she was withdrawing her name as chief author. As Minnesota Democrats Exposed reported, Bonoff "told Maclean the bill was 'no longer a priority' for her."

Lefty blogs cover Bonoff's endorsement bid

Bonoff replied to an e-mail request for comment for this story, but follow-up phone calls were not returned. I realize that Bonoff is very busy with the upcoming DFL endorsement vote for Member of Congress in the Third District, tomorrow at Wazyata Central Middle School in Plymouth. Her rival for the endorsement is Ashwin Madia, who was recently endorsed by the controversial Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5).

The incumbent state senator has faced an uphill battle against the political newcomer Madia, who according to Minnesota Campaign Report has the lead in delegates going into tomorrow's convention. Minnesota Monitor reported on serious doubts by DFL insiders about Bonoff. mnblue said that Madia "communicates what he believes so much better and so much more convincingly," and reported on the increasingly negative campaign by Bonoff against Madia. MNPublius promises extensive coverage of Saturday's endorsing convention, the winner of which will face Republican Erik Paulsen in the general election.

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