Minnesota governor signs bill codifying ‘fundamental right’ to abortion into law


Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Waltz signed a bill Tuesday that enshrines the “fundamental right” of access to abortion in the state.

Abortion is already legal in Minnesota, but after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Protection of Reproductive Options Act goes a step further by outlining that every person has the fundamental right to make “autonomous decisions” about their own reproductive health , as well as the right to refuse reproductive health care.

“It’s very simple, very accurate,” Waltz said Tuesday on “CNN Tonight.” “We trust the women of Minnesota, and this is not the result of [Supreme Court’s] solution, so I think it’s extremely important that we build a firewall.

With the passage of the bill, Minnesota is now the first state to codify abortion through legislative action since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the office of the bill’s lead author in the Minnesota State Senate said, CNN said.

“Last November, Minnesotans said loud and clear: They want their reproductive rights protected — not taken away,” Waltz said in a news release. “Today, we are making good on our promise to put up a bulwark against efforts to roll back reproductive freedom. No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come. Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected.

The bill states that local governments cannot restrict a person’s ability to exercise the “fundamental right” of reproductive freedom. It also clarifies that this right extends to access to contraception, sterilization, family planning, fertility services and counseling on reproductive health care.

“The Pro Act also goes beyond just providing these abortion rights, it really says that all reproductive health decisions are none of our business, including access to contraception, including access to really anything that has to do with private and personal decisions about your reproductive life,” Megan Peterson, executive director of the abortion rights campaign UnRestrict Minnesota, told CNN after Waltz signed the bill.

In a letter to Walz before the signing, Republican legislative leaders argued the bill went too far and urged the governor to veto what they called “extreme legislation.”

“As the PRO Act was rushed through the Legislature, Republicans offered common-sense fixes with guardrails to protect women and children,” wrote state Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson and House Minority Leader Lisa DeMuth, “For Unfortunately, each of these amendments was rejected by a majority of Democrats.”

In 1995, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Doe v. Gomez that abortion is a fundamental right protected by the state constitution. The Protection of Reproductive Options Act ensures that even if a new state Supreme Court overturns the decision, abortion rights will be protected by state law.

“With the passage of this law, Minnesotans will have a second level of protection for their existing reproductive rights.” A future Minnesota Supreme Court may overturn Doe v. Gomez, but with the PRO Act already in state law, Minnesotans will still have the right to reproductive health care,” Luke Bishop, a spokesman for Democratic Sen. Jennifer McEwen, author of the Senate bill, told CNN via email.

After the governor signed the bill, the White House applauded Minnesota’s efforts, citing popular support for women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.

“Americans overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, as was so clearly demonstrated last fall when voters turned out in favor of abortion access — including on ballot initiatives in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont ,” White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

“As congressional Republicans continue to support extreme policies, including a national abortion ban, the president and vice president are calling on Congress to restore Roe’s protections to federal law,” she wrote. “Until then, the Biden-Harris administration will continue its work to protect abortion access and support state leaders in protecting women’s reproductive rights.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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