The Minnesota House passed the DFL’s keystone “Protect Reproductive Options Act” in a 69-65 vote after four hours of emotional debate Thursday night.
The bill will grant Minnesotans a “fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, via any method and for any reason, with no age restrictions.
This, according to bill sponsor Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn, DFL-Eden Prairie, is what Minnesota’s case law already allows. Her bill simply “enshrines” these protections in state law, she argued.
“I know that not every positive pregnancy test is a celebration and not every ultrasound appointment ends with good news. I, as a politician, have no business making that decision for someone else,” she said.
The “Protect Reproductive Options Act,” which is expected to pass the Minnesota House today, would grant 13-year-olds a “fundamental right” to sterilization. pic.twitter.com/EIbuubIOJo
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) January 19, 2023
Republicans stressed throughout the debate that the bill includes “zero guardrails,” making it so “extreme” that Minnesota will be on par with communist countries like China and North Korea.
The House rejected several GOP amendments to the bill, including one that would have required abortion facilities to be licensed by the state.
“Most Americans just assume that an abortion facility would be a licensed facility,” said Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover. “These facilities aren’t licensed. There’s no standard of care. There’s no standard of hygiene. There’s no standard of safety.”
Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, said even nail salons are inspected by the state.
“Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States,” Kotyza-Witthuhn responded.
Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, introduced a “Roe” amendment, which would have limited abortions to the age of viability — the moment the child can live outside the womb.
Democrats have described the bill as an effort to “codify Roe,” but it is “far, far more extreme,” Niska argued.
“This Legislature at this moment in time is debating whether or not we want to perform abortions on children in utero until the moment before birth. I want that to sink in. That is extreme,” said Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake.
Amendments to ban partial-birth abortions and third-trimester abortions, with exceptions, were also rejected.
Third-trimester abortions, performed when a baby can feel “excruciating pain,” utilize “heinous” methods like dismemberment, chemicals, and sticking a needle through the infant’s heart, Neu Brindley said.
“That is how we perform abortions in the third trimester,” she said. “If you did these things to a baby a day later .. you would be charged with murder.”
The bill, she claimed, takes “the most extreme position on abortion in the entire world.”
Three Democrats, Reps. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud, Dave Lislegard of Aurora, and Gene Pelowski of Winona, voted in favor of the third-trimester ban. Only Pelowski voted against the full bill.
BREAKING: The Minnesota House passes the "Protect Reproductive Options Act" in a 69-65 vote. pic.twitter.com/GYVLrdokdz
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) January 20, 2023
House Majority Leader Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, said the public gave Democrats a majority to protect abortion access.
“Justice Alito and the Supreme Court justices want to make reproductive rights a state decision. Well this state has spoken loud and clear that it values reproductive rights,” he said.
Some members of the public, including the Minnesota Catholic Conference, expressed concern with the speed at which the bill was pushed through the committee process. The Legislature has been in session since just Jan. 3.
“As inconvenient as it is for some, we cannot ignore the reality of the unborn child in the womb — a living human being who is owed the protection of the community. We cannot allow state-sanctioned violence against a whole class of human beings. At the very minimum, we should all be able to agree that post-viability abortions, except to save the life of the mother, should not be allowed; that taxpayers not be required to fund any more abortions than those already required by the courts; and that medical professionals should not be punished for refusing to participate in abortion,” the Catholic bishops of Minnesota wrote in a letter to lawmakers this week.
The bill now heads to the Senate where Democrats hold a slimmer one-seat majority.