The Minnesota Legislature conducted the first hearing on the first bill of the 2023 legislative session this morning: the Protect Reproductive Options Act, or PRO Act.
The bill would establish a fundamental right to reproductive health in Minnesota law. It would protect Minnesotans’ right to contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term, the right to receive an abortion, and the right to privacy for their reproductive health decisions. It would also enshrine protections for the right to sterilization, preconception care, maternity care, family planning and fertility services, and counseling regarding reproductive health care.
The PRO Act is sponsored by Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn [DFL-49B].
Currently, abortion is legal in Minnesota because of a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court Decision, Doe v. Gomez. DFL leaders have said codifying abortion rights into law is a top priority for this session.
House Republicans introduced several amendments to the bill, none of which passed.
Amendment A3, introduced by Rep. Bernie Perryman [R-14A] would have required abortions during the second and third-trimesters of pregnancy to be completed in a hospital setting under penalty of felony against the provider and patient.
Amendment A4, introduced by Rep. Debra Kiel [R-1B] would have prohibited “partial birth abortions,” a non-medical term that refers to late-term abortions.
Rep. Anne Neu Brindley [R-28B] introduced amendment A5, which would have prohibited abortions within the third trimester of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest, and great health risks to the pregnant individual.
“Politics have no place in a doctor’s office,” Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn wrote in a statement after the committee adjourned.
Also during week #1, supporters of equal rights for women held a rally on opening day. Our photographer Sarah Whiting was there.