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Walz signs abortion rights bill into law

The PRO Act codifies the right to reproductive health care access in Minnesota.
Image by CJ Bonk
The 2023 session is scheduled to end on May 22.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz signed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act into law, codifying the right to abortion access and reproductive care. This makes Minnesota one of the first states to implement abortion protections since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. 

According to a press release, the PRO Act establishes that Minnesotans have a fundamental right to make decisions about their own reproductive health, including the right to use or refuse reproductive health care. 

“This is truly a historic day for our state,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a press release. “This legislation signals to Minnesotans and everyone across the country that your access to abortion and right to reproductive freedom will be protected here in Minnesota.”

The act serves as a reinforcement and expansion of the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Doe v. Gomez, which guarantees the right of every Minnesotan to terminate a pregnancy. Now, state law protects access to birth control, sterilization, family planning support and other services. 

“Today, we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom,” Walz said in a press release. 

The bill passed the state Senate on Saturday in a 34 to 33 vote after more than 14 hours of debate. Republicans attempted to add amendments, all of which were ultimately rejected, according to CBS news

Republican state lawmakers have claimed the act is “extreme” because it will allow women to terminate pregnancies up until birth. 

More than 91% of abortions in Minnesota happen within the first trimester. Of the 10,000 abortions performed statewide in 2021, only one occurred in the third trimester and none beyond 26 weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Walz said he will continue to fight to expand access to affordable and comprehensive reproductive health care for all Minnesotans. Democrats are proposing to strike existing regulations on abortion, such as the 24-hour waiting period, and add legal protections to abortion providers and patients who travel to Minnesota for abortions. 

Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected,” Walz said. 

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