UPDATE, 2/1/23: Today, Governor Tim Walz signed the bill into law, making abortion legal in Minnesota up to the moment of birth. According to CBS News, Walz said at the signing, “The message we are sending to Minnesota today is very clear: your rights are protected in this state. Today we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom. No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come.”
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman David Hann said in response, “Make no mistake, this extreme bill provides for taxpayer-funded abortion, on-demand, up until and even after birth.”
Today, I signed the PRO Act into law.
Your reproductive freedom will stay protected in Minnesota.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) January 31, 2023
1/29/23: Minnesota senators passed a bill early Saturday morning that would guarantee the right to abortion in state law, allowing abortions all the way up to birth with no restrictions. The Protective Reproductive Options (PRO) Act passed with a vote of 34-33 along party lines after more than 14 hours of debate. The bill, which passed the House last week, now heads to the desk of Governor Tim Walz for signature.
Though abortion is already considered a “right” in the state following the 1995 court ruling Doe v. Gomez, abortion advocates view the PRO Act as a secondary line of “defense,” which would ensure abortion remains legal in the state should a court ruling ever overturn Gomez. The bill reads, “every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health.”
Bill sponsor state Sen. Jennifer McEwen claims that the reversal of Roe made Minnesotans “afraid… to see” the same thing happen in their state at some point in the future. “The decisions of our courts, the upholding of our fundamental human rights, are only as strong as the judges who uphold them,” she said. Though supporters like McEwen say the PRO Act protects fundamental rights, it fails to protect any preborn child’s right to life, at any stage before the moment of birth.
While the bill has the full support of the abortion industry, which supports abortion up to birth, recent polling suggests that it is not in line with what most Americans want. The 2023 Knights of Columbus-Marist poll found that 79% of Americans do not support abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.
“Minnesotans don’t support elective third-trimester abortion. They just don’t. But that’s what this extreme bill entrenches in our state law: the right to abort any baby for any reason at any time up to birth,” said Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life Co-Executive Director Cathy Blaeser. “Under this bill, even babies who are old enough to live outside the womb and to feel excruciating pain have no protection from lethal violence. The extremism of H.F. 1 puts Minnesota in the same category as just a handful of countries around the world, including North Korea and China.”
Blaeser also pointed out that the bill allows minors to get abortions without parental notification. “The lack of parental involvement allows the most heinous of criminals—human and sex traffickers—to hide behind the doors of the unlicensed, uninspected abortion facility,” she said. “These traffickers are happily watching this legislature advance extreme, unfettered abortion bills that enable them to continue to traffic their victims.”
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson echoed Blaeser’s comments in calling the bill “extreme.”
“Today we are not codifying Roe v. Wade or Doe v. Gomez, we are enacting the most extreme bill in the country regarding youth sterilization, late-term abortions, and public liability for a vast array of reproductive services,” he said.
Here in Minnesota, we trust people to make their own decisions about their bodies.
I’m ready to sign the PRO Act and codify reproductive rights into law.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) January 28, 2023
Following the Senate’s Saturday passage, Walz tweeted his support and indicated he will sign the bill into law.
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