Jan 28, 2023 - Politics

Minnesota Legislature approves abortion rights bill

State Capitol

Photo: Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Minnesota Legislature gave final approval early Saturday to a bill adding the right to abortion to state law.

Driving the news: The legislation, which gives Minnesotans the "fundamental right to make autonomous decisions" about their reproductive health care, passed the state Senate on a party-line 34-33 vote after 15 hours of debate.

  • Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill.

The big picture: Minnesota is expected to become what advocates describe as a "safe haven" for abortion access in the upper midwest in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.

  • Planned Parenthood North Central States says its local clinics have seen a 13% increase in patients from other states since the Dobbs decision.

Between the lines: Abortion rights are already protected in Minnesota due to a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling known as Doe v. Gomez.

  • Supporters say codifying that precedent into state law adds another layer of certainty.

Plus: The bill goes beyond abortion, covering birth control, sterilization and prenatal care. It prohibits local governments from restricting access to those services.

The other side: Republicans have raised concerns that the bill does not set any limits on when an abortion can be performed. They've called it the most extreme abortion law in the nation, arguing it allows a pregnancy to be terminated up until birth.

  • Proposed amendments to ban abortion in the third trimester, exclude sterilization from the definition of reproductive rights and add more restrictions for both procedures were voted down during the floor debate.

Of note: Abortions late in pregnancy are rare in Minnesota — just one was performed after 25 weeks in both 2021 and 2020, per state data. There were two in 2019.

What to watch: Democrats, who hold majorities in both chambers, are also advancing legislation to strike existing abortion restrictions from state law, including some long standing state statutes that were blocked by a Ramsey County judge.

  • Leaders have also floated the idea of putting a ballot measure adding abortion rights to the state constitutionin front of voters.

More coverage: Minnesota House passes bill adding abortion rights to state law


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