Sen. Benson & Rep. Robbins introduce legislation to ban pelvic exams without consent

On Wednesday, Senator Michelle Benson, R- Ham Lake and Chair of the HHS Finance & Policy Committee in the Senate, held a press conference to announce the introduction of SF2782, a bill to make it a crime to perform a pelvic exam without first receiving the patient’s consent, unless it’s medically necessary and the patient is unable to consent. Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, introduced the companion bill (HF2713) in the House in late March.

“This practice is a clear violation of patient privacy and trust. It has no place in any medical facility and while I’m shocked we needed to add this legislation, I’m happy to introduce it today,” said Senator Michelle Benson. “It’s especially important for women to know that they have the right to consent to any medical evaluation before it’s conducted.”

A recent Forbes article and a constituent’s concern made the need for this legislation clear. The article brought to light a practice where some teaching hospitals allowed students to gain experience conducting pelvic exams on women under anesthesia or otherwise unconscious, without their consent.

“As a woman, and as the mother of three girls, I was appalled when this practice was brought to my attention,” said Rep. Kristin Robbins. “However rare this may be if it happens to even one woman without her consent, it is completely unacceptable. Minnesota is looked at as a leader in health care so let’s set an example by requiring consent before pelvic exams can be done under anesthesia.”

Seven states have similar laws in place and two more states are currently working to pass similar legislation.

The Senate HHS Committee is expected to have a hearing on the bill this session.

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