A group of Democratic lawmakers in the Minnesota Legislature have announced the formation of the so-called Reproductive Freedom Caucus.
Both Minnesota state senators and representatives are members of this caucus, which was founded on the heels of Texas’ new abortion law.
A group of nearly two dozen individuals, mostly state lawmakers belonging to the caucus, officially heralded its creation in a Friday press conference.
“The work of supporting Minnesotans’ decisions to choose if and when to start a family, to receive accurate medical information, and to access affordable reproductive care, free from harassment or fear, has been ongoing work in our communities across the state of Minnesota for decades,” said Sen. Lindsey Port of Burnsville. “It’s time that the Legislature makes it a priority at the Capitol to support what’s already being done in our communities.”
One purpose of the caucus is to push back against increasingly confident pro-life sentiment following the passage of abortion bans in Texas and several other states.
“We’ve come to a point now where we need to change the paradigm. We can no longer be playing defense,” said Sen. Jen McEwen of Duluth. “We can no longer be put on our heels in responding to the attacks on reproductive justice and reproductive freedom.”
Another lawmaker claimed the caucus is not solely about abortion rights, but a kind of “comprehensive reproductive freedom” that places great importance on so-called “LGBT” and “transgender” issues too.
“This is not simply just about abortion. This is about comprehensive reproductive freedom,” said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn of Roseville. “We heard [in this press conference] about maternal health care, we heard about comprehensive sex education, the rights of our trans and LGBTQ allies and friends and relatives and neighbors as well. That is all part of this conversation, so it is not a simple pro-con abortion conversation that we are trying to have here.”
The caucus also serves as a response to pro-life Minnesota Republicans who have openly supported Texas’ abortion law.
“Minnesota Republicans have made it clear that reproductive rights are on the ballot here next year right here in our state,” Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen said earlier this week, per KTOE.
On Sept. 3, Rep. Tim Miller of Prinsburg wrote in a statement that the Texas law was “great news for America.”
“As an adamant pro-life legislator, I am greatly encouraged to see major steps taken in the fight to save unborn lives. For decades, the abortion lobby and its advocates have slaughtered innocence without a second thought,” he said. “Today, I believe Americans across the country are waking up and fighting against the horrid practice of abortion. We will continue this fight and we will save unborn lives.”
Miller has written his own pro-life bill, which would ban abortion in Minnesota after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly around six weeks. The bill was introduced in February and referred to the Health and Finance Policy Committee, but it has not made any progression beyond that.