Minnesota Democrats abandon the most vulnerable

Minnesota’s 2023 legislative session was without a doubt about the children — about removing all guardrails that protect them.

Gov. Tim Walz signs his "One Minnesota" budget on the Capitol steps. (Office of Gov. Tim Walz/Flickr)

The 2023 legislative session moved at a swift pace, significantly changing the fabric of
Minnesota. I joined senior counsel of the Upper Midwest Law Center, James Dickey, to
discuss a few legislative session “highlights” on the UMLC podcast, but there’s simply too much to unpack in one podcast. This commentary provides additional information about some of the life and gender legislation in Minnesota that we did not get a chance to talk about on the podcast.

First, we discuss drastic changes to Minnesota’s abortion laws. The Minnesota legislature and Walz administration created one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the country based on elusive claims about access to abortion and with insufficient public notice or debate. Minnesota’s newly elected majorities in the House and Senate created a fundamental right to abortion while also repealing, and thus removing, nearly all health
and safety protections in civil and criminal law regulating abortion, impacting women
and girls seeking an abortion.

Changes to abortion regulations include removing critical language in the Born Alive
Infants Protection Act. The statute was amended by removing explicit protections for
infants born alive who survive an abortion. Thus, cattle and reptiles in Minnesota have
more protections than Minnesota’s preborn children. Minnesota legislators removed
nearly all guardrails regulating abortion, including no gestational limits and increased
taxpayer funding for abortion on demand. The removal of nearly all common-sense
health and safety protections regulating the abortion industry makes Minnesota an
outlier among states and among the nation. Pro-abortion legislators continue to claim
that Minnesotans voted for “reproductive freedom.” While that may be true for some
voters, many Minnesotans are deeply concerned with a new state abortion regime on
par with China and North Korea. This, while also gutting all funding for various women’s
medical clinics serving women who chose not to get an abortion as well as pregnancy
resource centers, which serve men, women, and children. The abortion industry will
receive state funding, but women and girls who want to keep their babies are no longer
a worthy investment of state dollars.

With Minnesota’s abortion industry largely deregulated, women and girls across the
country are at an even greater risk of exploitation from the billion-dollar abortion

But preying on the most vulnerable Minnesotans was not limited to preborn lives.

Provisions in other bills reflect an aggressive push by the newly elected majorities in the
House and Senate, in concert with Gov. Walz and his administration, to force aggressive policies compelling agreement with radical gender ideology — there’s no agree to disagree in the new legislation. This includes passing a ban on “conversion therapy,” more accurately described as a counseling censorship ban as the law prohibits licensed counselors from assisting minor patients and vulnerable adults struggling with same-sex attraction from pursuing self-selected counseling goals. Yet, the law allows those same individuals to pursue counseling with a licensed counselor if he or she embraces his or her same-sex attraction or gender confusion, which may include a journey down the path of experimental medicine, surgeries, and cross-sex hormones. While other countries have aligned with new best practices and recent studies that sharply deviate from the “gender-affirming” approach, Minnesota is doubling-down on the path of harmful, life-altering biological consequences for children, and trampling on parental rights.

The counseling censorship bill also passed despite warnings about the blatant violation
of First Amendment speech protections, including the United States Supreme Court’s
signal that these types of bans on professional speech are unconstitutional. But there is
more: the counseling censorship law includes consumer fraud provisions making it one
of the worst bills of its kind. Under current law, faith-driven activities, including youth
conferences and publishers, could be considered fraudulent and deceptive practices,
potentially subjecting many organizations and individuals to ruinous lawsuits.

As we discussed on the podcast, the so-called “gender affirming care bill” and Take
Pride Act also garnered support from legislators in both majorities and the Walz
administration. More information about the Take Pride Act can be found in Alpha News
coverage of the bill earlier this session.

However, there is one take away from this session that we can all agree with:
Minnesota’s 2023 legislative session was without a doubt about the children — about
removing all guardrails that protect them from the abortion industry, removing legal
safeguards that allow children to grow and graduate high school with a whole body and
sound mind, and removing language that explicitly protects them from adults with
predatory behaviors, while simultaneously creating a wedge between children and their
parents by stripping parents of their fundamental right to the education and upbringing
of their children.

Over the last few months, I have heard many Minnesotans saying the progressive policy
pendulum can only swing so far in one direction. Let it be so!



Renee Carlson

Renee Carlson is general counsel of True North Legal.