Early on Saturday (January 28), following 15 hours of debate, Minnesota Senate passed legislation guaranteeing the right to abortion, which pro-life Republicans have described as “the most extreme” in the country.
The legislation — titled Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act — passed with a razor-thin margin, receiving 34 votes in favor to 33 opposing the bill. Prior to its passage, Republicans attempted to, unsuccessfully, amend the bill 35 times.
The legislation is built on the premise that “every individual has a fundamental right to make” their own decisions about their “reproductive health.”
The bill has been fast-tracked by Democrats following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which ended federal protection for abortion.
Minnesota has had a precedent guaranteeing access to abortion, established by a ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1995 — Doe v. Gomez. However, Democrats and abortion activists have asserted that the PRO Act is necessary to codify abortion in the state to prevent the possibility of overturning the precedent.
The legislation also codifies access to contraception and fertility treatment.
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Senator Jennifer McEwen, asserted that Minnesotans were “afraid” of what happened on the federal level with the overturning of Roe v Wade, which could occur on the state level.
McEwen added that the court’s decisions and “upholding” human rights “are only as strong as the judges who uphold them.”
The legislation’s supporters believe the bill doesn’t change any aspect of the state’s handling of reproductive health, with Planned Parenthood North Central States chief medical officer, Dr. Sarah Traxler, saying, “The PRO Act solidifies Minnesotans’ human rights into state law.”
The bill’s opposition disagrees, arguing the bill protects abortions up until the moment of birth.