Minnesota Senate debate on reproductive rights bill continues late into the night

UPDATE: The Minnesota Senate approved the bill early Saturday morning.

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A marathon debate in the Senate over the future of reproductive rights in the state carried into the late nighttime hours Friday.

The Protect Reproductive Options Act was introduced on the Senate floor at 10:30 a.m., after already having passed the Minnesota House last week by a vote of 69-65. As previously reported, all but one Democrat, Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. of Winona, voted in favor, while all Republicans voted against it.

As of 10:45 p.m., senators were still introducing amendments to the bill, and it had yet to be taken up for a final vote.

The legislation would allow Minnesotans, as well as those who come to the state, to make their own decisions about having abortions.

The bill, which has been hotly debated, also is written to protect sterilization, family planning, pre-conception and maternity care.

There is no language in the bill that puts any restrictions on the stage of pregnancy when abortion can be performed or any other restrictions.

“This is a very extreme bill,” said Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia. “The most extreme abortion bill in the entire U.S. It has zero guardrails. Zero guardrails.”

Previously, Democrats in the House did not include Republican amendments that would have required abortion facilities to be licensed, banned partial birth abortions, allowed local governments to regulate abortions and restricted abortions in the third trimester. That amendment, prohibiting abortions in the third trimester except in cases of rape, incest or to protect health of the mother, failed on a tie vote of 67-67, meaning some Democrats did vote with Republicans.

RELATED: Abortion bills on fast-track in MN Senate, House

“It still allows exceptions for rape, incest, the health of the mother,” said Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch. “This is the most reasonable guard rail we could possibly place on House File 1 and I hope you will vote yes.”

Planned Parenthood of the North Central States explains since the overturning of Roe v Wade, there’s been a 13% increase in out-of-state patients.

“My patient who drove nine hours to see me because her doctors would not take care of her, even though she was given a lethal fetal diagnosis,” said Dr. Sarah Traxler, the Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood.

The Minnesota Senate has been holding hearings on the issue as well.

If the bill passes the senate, it could be on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk in just a few days.