Dr. Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood North Central States, said second-trimester abortions have increased substantially in the region during a hearing this week in the Minnesota Senate.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Traxler said PPNCS has seen a 13% increase in patients coming from out of the region for abortions and a 40% increase in second-trimester abortions. PPNCS includes Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“We all know that abortion is essential healthcare,” she said while testifying in support of the “Reproductive Freedom Defense Act” in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.
She explained that about 70% of all abortions in Minnesota are performed by PPNCS.
“I’m proud to provide abortion care to my patients,” Traxler said, noting that patients from as far as Texas and Alabama have come to the region for abortions since the June ruling.
“Health care providers must have reassurance that our medical and ethical obligations to care for patients, in the ways that we as experts understand more than politicians, are not restricted by politics,” Traxler testified.
Rep. Esther Agbaje, DFL-Minneapolis, joined Sen. Kelly Morrison, DFL-Deephaven, to explain the bill.
“Our bill ensures that the law governing the release of health records excludes out-of-state subpoenas and court orders for records related to abortion, contraception and other reproductive health care. This ensures that disclosure laws cannot be weaponized for other states’ prosecution of health care that is protected under Minnesota law,” Agbaje said.
She said the bill allows “anyone sued in another state” for providing or helping obtain an abortion to “counter sue” in Minnesota and recover any costs affiliated with the case. It also prohibits Minnesota courts from enforcing out-of-state judgments related to abortion and prevents extradition related to other states’ abortion laws.
Morrison told the committee that the overturning of Roe v. Wade created a “public health crisis” across the nation while describing pro-life laws in other states as “cruel and harmful.”
“People will always need abortion care,” she said. “We welcome people who need care and are unable to access it in their home states.”
Agbaje, a lawyer and the chief author of the companion bill in the Minnesota House, called pro-life legislation in other states “shocking.”
“These are radical and restrictive laws, not based in science, not based in health care,” she said.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said some of the language in the bill goes “way beyond an abortion.”
“I listened to the testifiers. I know what they’re trying to accomplish. This bill goes far beyond,” he said.
Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill legalizing abortion up until birth earlier this year. DFL legislators also want to lift all of the remaining restrictions on abortion and abortion providers in another bill, HF91/SF70.