Minnesota just passed one of the nation’s most permissive abortion laws when its Democratic governor signed the bill on Tuesday.
In the state Senate, the Protect Reproductive Options Act passed along party lines on Saturday after 15 hours of debate, with Democrats rejecting 35 amendments proposed by Republicans. Yes, 35 amendments. Instead, the PRO Act enshrines abortion in state law with no restrictions.
Proponents of the bill said it was important to ensure that abortion couldn’t be restricted through the courts, since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. Abortion in Minnesota was already protected under a 1995 state Supreme Court decision, meaning the new law won’t change much; it will simply ensure that courts cannot restrict abortion.
The bill also includes provisions for contraception, family planning and fertility services, and sterilization, another point of contention for conservatives. “We are enacting the most extreme bill in the country regarding youth sterilization, late-term abortions and public viability for a vast array of new reproductive rights,” said the state Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson.
It’s clear that pro-abortion Minnesota politicians also want to turn the state into a haven for those seeking abortions from out of state. “Minnesotans and all people who travel here for care need to know abortion access isn’t going away just because political winds change or an ideological judge overturns precedent,” said Dr. Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood North Central States.
While proponents of the legislation prefer to frame the bill as advancing women’s rights and healthcare, the rejection of reasonable amendments suggests it is more about pushing an ideological agenda. Amendments to require parental notification or to ban abortion in the third trimester, both popular measures, were shot down.
Pro-life advocates in Minnesota have their work cut out for them, knowing that just as this legislation was passed through the state legislature, so could life-affirming legislation be passed in the future. Until then, they remain tasked with persuading their peers that any bill that supports the rights of mothers while trampling the rights of infants is not about rights at all.