State Democrats look to quickly codify abortion access as session begins

A bill that would codify the "right" to an abortion in Minnesota has been scheduled for a hearing later this week.

Inner dome from the rotunda floor of the Minnesota State Capitol. (Shutterstock)

With full control over state government, Democrats are saying they hope to quickly pass legislation to protect abortion access in Minnesota.

A bill that would codify the “right” to an abortion in Minnesota has been scheduled for a hearing later this week.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, at 10:30 a.m., the Minnesota House of Representatives’ Health Finance and Policy Committee will hold a hearing about a bill amending the Minnesota Statutes to “[establish] a fundamental right to reproductive health.”

The “Protect Reproductive Options Act,” expected to be introduced on Wednesday, claims that “every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise this fundamental right.”

The bill would also presumably prevent county or city governments from becoming “sanctuaries” for the unborn: “A local unit of government may not regulate an individual’s ability to freely exercise the fundamental rights set forth in this section in a manner that is more restrictive than that set forth in this section.”

Minnesota’s Democratic leaders have made it clear they would prioritize the codification of abortion “rights” at the beginning of the new legislative session, which kicked off on Tuesday. Democrats now control both the state House and Senate as a result of last November’s midterm elections.

Gov. Tim Walz made comments supportive of codifying abortion during his inaugural address on Monday.

“I want to be very clear: Let’s go ahead here in Minnesota and protect the right to choose when to start a family by codifying abortion access once and for all,” he said. Walz later told the media that quickly passing abortion legislation will “send a strong message.”

In 1995 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Doe v. Gomez that abortion was a constitutionally protected “right,” though various laws regulating abortion access had been in place until a Ramsey County judge struck them down as “unconstitutional” in July.

A pro-life group, however, filed a motion in November to fight the ruling. A court hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.