The Minnesota Department of Corrections will now pay for any inmate’s abortion, regardless of the reasons for seeking the procedure, according to a new policy.
The new policy, adopted Jan. 10, replaces a 2018 policy that limited the department’s coverage of abortion to cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or if the life of the mother was at risk.
“For all other elective abortions, the offender must pay for the abortion,” the old policy said. This language has been removed from the new policy.
The new policy simply states that “the department, through its medical contractor, provides for abortions,” calling abortion an “essential component of comprehensive evidence-based health care.”
The updated policy also removes protections for corrections employees who don’t want to be involved in procuring an abortion.
“Department staff who wish not to be involved in arranging, transporting, or providing security during an abortion are not required to do so,” the old policy said. This language is not in the new policy.
“The updated policy … better allows individuals to make personal healthcare decisions and removes barriers to access for protected healthcare procedures, consistent with Minnesota law. The updated policy defines and clarifies the process for accessing this healthcare with an outside provider, and allows all individuals access,” a Department of Corrections spokesperson told Alpha News.
The new policy also refers to pregnant people with the plural “they” pronoun, instead of “she,” which was used in the old policy.
“In the case of a medication abortion, the patient is prioritized for single-cell placement, if available, with access to a sink and toilet, for as long as clinically indicated,” the new policy says.
The Department of Corrections is under the control of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who won a second term by campaigning on protecting abortion.
Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature are moving to quickly pass their Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, which allows abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.
Democrats have rejected amendments to the bill that would: protect babies who survive abortions, ban partial-birth abortions, prohibit third-trimester abortions when the baby can feel pain, and require late-term abortions to be performed in a hospital.