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Minnesota Senate passes reproductive rights bill

Legislation to codify Minnesotans’ right to reproductive autonomy now goes to Gov. Walz to be signed into law.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Senate passed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act early Saturday morning, which establishes that every Minnesotan has the freedom to decide their own reproductive health.

The Senate debated all day Friday before senators approved the bill, H.F. 1, just shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday by a one-vote margin, 34-33. 

“Today, the Minnesota Senate demonstrated that we will not simply put our faith in individual judges to uphold our rights and freedoms – we will also enshrine those rights into state statute," said Democratic Sen. Jen McEwen, of Duluth, the lead author of the legislation. "Minnesotans now have an affirmative right to make their own decisions about reproductive health care. I’m proud to have taken this step today, and we will continue to advance legislation to ensure Minnesotans have meaningful access to the care they need.”

On the Senate floor, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, said, "Folks this is so disappointing, so incredibly disappointing to hear the double-speak when this bill is presented, that the truth is not being presented to you."

Minnesota Democratic leaders wanted to pass the bill as quickly as possible after installing a Minnesota DFL trifecta in the past election for the first time in nearly a decade. Democrats fast-tracked the bill once the 2023 legislative session began in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade last summer.

Even though a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision known as Doe v. Gomez protects abortion rights in the state, DFL legislators wanted to ensure that those protections wouldn't be able to be overturned by any future court with the PRO Act.

Republicans offered numerous amendments to the measure, including parental notification and a ban on third-trimester abortions, all of which were voted down.

"All this with just a one-seat majority," Senate Minority Leader Johnson said in a statement. "A casual observer would think Minnesota voters gave democrats a significant majority and mandate to ram through radical and extreme legislation that will fundamentally change the lives of everyday Minnesotans."

Bill author Sen. McEwen said in a news release that in the coming weeks, the DFL majority will continue to advance additional legislation to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to reproductive healthcare.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Co-Executive Director Cathy Blaeser, who opposes the bill, responded on Saturday to the Senate's decision saying, “Minnesotans don’t support elective third-trimester abortion. 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."

Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood North Central States issued the following statement Saturday morning:

“Today, the Minnesota Senate voted to trust doctors and our patients. The PRO Act solidifies Minnesotans’ human rights into state law and is an insurance policy that our rights won’t be taken away by politicians or judges. All I want, and doctors across Minnesota want, is to provide the best care we can to our patients. And by passing the PRO Act into state law, the Minnesota Legislature will allow us to do just that.”

The sweeping measure has been sent to Gov. Tim Walz's desk, where it will be signed into law on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at noon.

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