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Walz signs PRO act reproductive rights bill into law

Tuesday's signing makes Minnesota the first state in the nation in the post-Roe era to ensure residents have a legal right to an abortion.

ST PAUL, Minn. — As promised, Gov. Tim Walz put pen to paper Tuesday afternoon, signing a bill that places abortion access rights into Minnesota law for the first time ever. 

Walz signed the PRO Act, which according to the DFL Caucus of the Minnesota House protects the right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term, and the right to abortion. It also ensures the right to privacy for personal reproductive health decisions, and prevents interference by those "who seek to enact or defend medically unnecessary barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care."  

Tuesday's signing makes Minnesota the first state in the nation in the post-Roe era to ensure residents have a legal right to an abortion.

"Today, we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom, Walz said of the signing. "No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come. Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected.”

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.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan was among those at the signing ceremony to caution that abortion opponents will not cease in their efforts.   

"There is still work to do to make sure abortion and comprehensive reproductive health care is accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it, no matter who they are or where they live," Flanagan insisted. 

Among the other speakers gathered at the capitol was a woman named Liz, who shared a personal story of a pregnancy she decided to terminate. At 18 weeks, Liz said, she and her husband went in for an ultrasound. After finding out she was carrying a boy, her doctor called Liz into her office and told her the fetus was "not compatible with life." At that point, Liz said, she asked for an abortion and told her doctor she wanted to proceed as soon as possible. 

"I have never for a second questioned my decision to get an abortion," Liz shared. "Continuing that pregnancy would have been detrimental both emotionally and physically." 

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) was among the interests lobbying against passage of the PRO act. 

“The PRO Act means a right to abort any baby for any reason at any time up to birth. It means that the elective killing of a human being in utero is perfectly legal even in the third trimester of pregnancy, when the child can feel excruciating pain and could live outside the womb," said MCCL Co-Executive Director Cathy Blaeser in a statement following the bill signing. "Gov. Walz’s absolutist abortion policy puts Minnesota in the company of just a small handful of countries around the world, including North Korea and China. It is extreme, inhumane, and harmful to women and children who deserve so much better.”

Blaeser also maintains that during debates of the PRO act on the House and Senate floors, small majorities rejected dozens of amendments that would have made the bill less extreme. 

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