Reproductive Rights at the Capitol

Rep. Tina Liebling hugs Rep. Hodan Hassan after the passage of SF2995, the health and human services finance bill, May 22. Photo by Catherine Davis

Protect Reproductive Options Act

The PRO Act codifies abortion access in Minnesota state law. Previously, the right to get an abortion in Minnesota was derived from a 1995 court case. This law defines reproductive health, recognizes a right to reproductive freedom, and limits the ability of local government units to regulate an individual’s ability to get an abortion. It went into effect on February 1.

Reproductive Freedom Defense Act

The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act protects the rights and privacy of those receiving or providing reproductive health care in Minnesota. It passed 70-58 in the House and 34-29 in the Senate. Governor Walz signed the bill into law on April 27.

The bill ensures that if reproductive health records are requested by law enforcement in a different state, even if ordered by subpoena or court order, they will remain private. It also prevents Minnesota law enforcement and courts from issuing a warrant for the arrest of someone charged in another state with a crime related to any medical, surgical, counseling, or referral services relating to pregnancy, contraception, or the termination of a pregnancy.

At the time this magazine went to press in mid- May, at least one other state — Connecticut — had passed a Reproductive Freedom Defense Act.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

This bill provides paid family and medical leave benefits to all Minnesota non- temporary employees. Workers can use up to 12 weeks of paid leave relating to serious health conditions or pregnancy; and up to 12 weeks for parent-child bonding, safety leave, qualifying exigency, or family care. If a worker uses both types of leave in a single year, their total amount of benefits is capped. Costs of the program will be front-loaded out of the state’s surplus until July 2025, when employers and employees would start contributing to a fund. The Senate passed the final bill on April 18.

Sen. Alice Mann (DFL–District 50), authored the Senate bill. In a story published by MinnPost, Mann said, “The health benefits [of paid leave] are incredible. [States where it has passed, we’re seeing] less clinic visits, less hospitalizations. We’re seeing moms do better during prenatal care and postpartum, both mentally and physically.”

Trans Refuge Bill

The Trans Refuge Bill protects children from being removed from their parents for receiving gender-affirming health care in Minnesota (if the family lives in another state where that care is illegal). It also protects people who provide or receive gender-affirming health care (including counseling, hormone therapy, and surgical interventions) in Minnesota from extradition to other states. The bill was passed by the Senate 34-30. Governor Walz signed it into law on April 27.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are 474 anti-LGBTQ bills currently introduced in state legislatures. Of those bills, 125 are related to health care in some way. Minnesota may soon be the lone state in the region where gender-affirming care is available.

Editor’s Note: The following bills were categorized as “Stalled” in the print version of the June 2023 Minnesota Women’s Press magazine. After press time, versions of the below passed as part of an omnibus bill on May 22. Read more.

Reproductive Freedom Codification Act

The Reproductive Freedom Codification Act (HF91/SF70) would expand the work of the PRO Act by repealing statutes in Minnesota aimed at limiting abortion access, some of which were ruled unconstitutional by a Ramsey County judge last summer and are no longer enforced. The bill would:

  • Remove a limitation on the performance of abortions at birth centers
  • Repeal a ban on state funding for specific anti-abortion marketing and propaganda materials
  • Desist from treating the disposition of fetal remains from an abortion or miscarriage as a misdemeanor

Positive Pregnancies Support Act

The Positive Alternatives to Abortion Act is an existing bill in Minnesota that would be heavily reformed — and renamed to the Positive Pregnancies Support Act — if amended by the legislature and signed by the governor. Many so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” receive government funding under the current act. The new act includes major changes to funding eligibility. In order to receive funds from the Department of Health under this program, organizations would have to ensure that any information provided about pregnancy is medically accurate, ensure that any ultrasound provided is interpreted by a licensed medical professional, and more.