Minnesota Senate approves reproductive rights bill

After around 15 hours of debate that stretched into the early hours of Saturday morning, Minnesota lawmakers have given final approval to a reproductive rights bill.

Debate in the Minnesota Senate wrapped up at around 3 a.m. before senators voted 34-33 to pass the “Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act.”

In addition to full abortion protections, the legislation is also written to protect sterilization, family planning, pre-conception and maternity care.

Since the bill passed the Minnesota House last week, it will now head to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk to be signed into law.

“Here in Minnesota, we hold dear that we all have a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about our own reproductive healthcare,” Sen. Jen McEwen (DFL-Duluth), the lead author of the legislation, said in a statement. “Today, the Minnesota Senate demonstrated that we will not simply put our faith in individual judges to uphold our rights and freedoms – we will also enshrine those rights into state statute. Minnesotans now have an affirmative right to make their own decisions about reproductive health care. I’m proud to have taken this step today, and we will continue to advance legislation to ensure Minnesotans have meaningful access to the care they need.”

Republicans have called the bill “extreme” and tried to amend the bill to include several restrictions — including a ban on third-trimester abortions, prohibiting dilation and evacuation abortions and requiring parental notification — but failed to gain enough support.

“Today we are not codifying Roe v. Wade or Doe v. Gomez, we are enacting the most extreme bill in the country regarding youth sterilization, late-term abortions, and public liability for a vast array of reproductive services,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks) said in a statement. “All this with just a one-seat majority. A casual observer would think Minnesota voters gave democrats a significant majority and mandate to ram through radical and extreme legislation that will fundamentally change the lives of everyday Minnesotans.

“Today Minnesota Senate Republicans demonstrated, through a series of good faith amendments, the significant and devastating shortcomings of this bill. I’m very disappointed our amendments to restrict late-term, saline, and dismemberment abortions, protect minors from dangerous abusers, and defend the lives of babies with Down syndrome were all rejected by every Democrat in the Senate. It really is the most extreme abortion bill, not just in the state, but in the world.”

Gov. Walz is expected to sign the bill, which the DFL prioritized since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, early next week.

The governor and lieutenant governor both tweeted Saturday morning about the bill.