UnRestrict Minnesota celebrates further restoration of abortion services as essential health care, applauds champions of reproductive freedom in Legislature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2023
Erin Hart, Communications Director
Saint Paul, Minn.—With the passage today of the health and human services omnibus bill, the Minnesota Legislature has repealed a web of harmful restrictions on abortion access that remained on the books despite state court decisions ruling many of them unconstitutional. UnRestrict Minnesota is celebrating the bill’s passage as it moves on to Governor Tim Walz to be signed into law.
“Fulfilling the promise of reproductive freedom for everyone in the state of Minnesota means repealing the unjust and unconstitutional laws that stand in the way of abortion access, and we have taken massive steps toward that today,” said Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, a member of the UnRestrict Minnesota coalition.
“The reproductive rights enshrined in our state constitution and protected by the laws passed earlier this session wouldn’t mean much to many Minnesotans if we left these barriers to abortion access in our state laws.
“The removal of these restrictions further clears the path toward the restoration of abortion care to its rightful status as a form of essential health care like any other, and toward a more just and equitable future for reproductive health care throughout our state.”
Minnesota’s Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to an abortion, but Minnesota’s laws had become littered with restrictions on abortion care that accumulated over decades of efforts by anti-abortion activists and politicians to chip away at abortion rights and access incrementally — preventing too many people from getting care when they needed it, increasing the cost of care, and intimidating patients and health care providers alike.
Despite a 2022 decision by a Minnesota District court ruling that many of these laws violated the Minnesota state constitution, and earlier similar decisions in the 70’s and 80’s, these restrictions remained on the books and could have been revived through further legal action by politicians and activists who remain committed to ending safe and legal abortion in Minnesota.
Today’s passage of the health omnibus bill eliminated many of these restrictions once and for all, including:
- A requirement that doctors deliver state-mandated anti-abortion propaganda to patients seeking abortion care — including demonstrably false information, such as a debunked claim linking abortion to breast cancer.
- A mandatory 24-hour waiting period for patients to get abortion care after they’ve received biased, state-mandated anti-abortion “counseling” — an unnecessary barrier to all patients, but especially those in Greater Minnesota who need to travel longer distances for care, or for those who have inflexibility with their work and life schedules.
- A measure that unnecessarily prohibited anyone but doctors from performing abortions, outlawing abortions performed by advanced-practice registered nurses and other trained, licensed, qualified providers.
The omnibus bill also eliminates some of the most invasive requirements of a law that previously forced abortion providers to report to the state an exhaustive list of personal details about abortion patients, and zeroes out the budget for a state program that previously funneled $3 million in taxpayer money annually to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that use misinformation and coercive practices to actively discourage people from seeking abortion care.
Rights are meaningless without access to care. This bill increases the Medical Assistance reimbursement rate for providers offering family planning services and abortion care by 20%. Medical Assistance reimburses abortion providers at a rate that’s far below the actual cost of abortion care. The rate increase will improve access for people who depend on Medical Assistance.
The passage of the health omnibus bill comes at the end of a legislative session that also saw the passage of the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act — enshrining in Minnesota law every person’s right to make and act on the full spectrum of decisions available to them regarding their pregnancies and their reproductive health care, without government interference — and the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, protecting everyone who seeks, provides, or helps someone get abortion care in Minnesota from legal action and criminal prosecution by anti-abortion activists and politicians from out of state.
“The champions of reproductive freedom in our legislature have done right by the vast majority of Minnesotans for whom reproductive freedom is a core value and cherished ideal,” said Peterson.
“There is more we must do to overcome some of the obstacles that remain in the way of robust and equitable access for all, but we have made tremendous progress this legislative session.
“We applaud the lawmakers who have worked so hard to make this progress possible, and the Minnesota voters who sent them to the legislature with an explicit mandate to take this kind of decisive action to strengthen and defend reproductive freedom.”