Skip to main content

Reproductive Freedom Defense Act Passes Out of House Health Committee

UnRestrict Minnesota Urges Passage of Bill Protecting Minnesota Citizens and Health Care Providers Against Out-of-State Anti-Abortion Legal Attacks

January 26, 2023

Erin Hart, Communications Director

Saint Paul, Minn.—Following testimony from a doctor who moved from Texas to Minnesota to provide abortion care following the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade and an attorney who spoke in chilling terms about the dangers of allowing anti-abortion laws in other states to affect access in Minnesota, the House Health Committee has passed the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (HF366 / SF165).

Designed to protect Minnesota citizens and health care providers against legal attacks and criminal penalties imposed by out-of-state anti-abortion politicians and activists under laws aimed at extending laws banning abortion across state lines, the RFDA now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee.

“The goal of these laws is to scare providers and patients and ultimately stop all abortions wherever they occur,” said Jess Braverman, legal director for Gender Justice, in her testimony. “Our state has the responsibility to protect Minnesotans from the extreme abortion laws of other states and protect all who travel here to seek care.”

Said Dr. Joseph Nelson, who moved to Minnesota to provide abortion care for Whole Woman’s Health after Texas banned abortion underly nearly all circumstances:

“Telling a patient in crisis that I was not able to help them, and having my hands tied so thoroughly that I couldn’t even tell them where they could go to access care, was the worst experience of my professional life. It felt like a betrayal.

“I am aware that there are some providers who will not care for patients coming from certain parts of the country due to concerns about their legal risk. This bill provides the legal support needed for all providers in Minnesota to feel protected, and to be capable of creating an environment with the trust that is so vital to our work.”

The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade unleashed a flood of bills by anti-abortion lawmakers seeking not only to ban abortion in their own states, but also to reach across state lines, preventing people from traveling elsewhere to get the care they can’t get at home — and punishing those who provide abortion care and help people get it.

The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would:

  • Create strong protections for Minnesota’s own health care providers and citizens against legal attacks and criminal penalties imposed by anti-abortion extremists in other states.
  • Prevent our courts and institutions from being hijacked and weaponized in service of the anti-abortion agenda of people outside Minnesota.
  • Establish Minnesota as a refuge for those whose own state governments have sought to persecute and punish them for seeking to make and act on their own decisions about their pregnancies, their lives, their families, and their future.

Abena Abraham, campaign director for UnRestrict Minnesota, applauded the RFDA’s passage out of committee today and urged Minnesota lawmakers to move quickly to pass it into law.

According to polling conducted by PerryUndem in December 2022, three quarters of Minnesota voters support protections for abortion providers against legal action by other states that have banned abortion, as well as protections for people traveling from out-of-state to get abortion care in Minnesota.

“We simply cannot stand for anti-abortion activists and lawmakers from other states threatening our citizens and health care providers and standing in the way of abortion care in Minnesota,” said Abraham.

“It’s an affront to the values of the vast majority of Minnesotans who want strong protections for abortion rights and access in our state, and a very serious threat to anyone who acts on those values by providing abortion care or helping people get it.

“The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would defend our citizens and health care providers, and the values most Minnesotans hold regarding reproductive freedom. We urge our state legislators to advance it swiftly and pass it into law as soon as possible.”