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Reproductive Freedom Defense Act Passes Out of Senate Health and Human Services Committee

UnRestrict Minnesota applauds advancement of protections against out-of-state anti-abortion attacks, calls for passage of all bills defending reproductive freedom

March 14, 2023

Erin Hart, Communications Director

Saint Paul, Minn.—The Senate Health and Human Services Committee has passed the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (SF 165), designed to protect people seeking, providing, and helping others get abortion care in Minnesota against legal attacks by out-of-state anti-abortion activists — and UnRestrict Minnesota is calling for swift passage of the RFDA and other pro-reproductive-freedom bills currently before the legislature.

“Attacks on abortion access are reaching a fever pitch across the United States, and the threats to the people and health care providers of Minnesota are very dangerous and very real,” said Abena Abraham, campaign director for UnRestrict Minnesota.

“Our legislators must maintain the momentum they have built to clear the remaining obstacles to equitable access in Minnesota and defend our people and our values against the extremists who will stop at nothing to end safe and legal abortion for everyone.”

The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade resulted in states across the country banning or preparing to ban abortion. Now anti-abortion lawmakers are going even further, introducing legislation that would subject those seeking, providing, or assisting people in getting abortion care to criminal prosecution and lawsuits — even in states, like Minnesota, where abortion is a guaranteed right.

The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would ensure that patients traveling to Minnesota for abortion care and the providers who serve them are protected from legal attacks and criminal penalties from anti-abortion extremists from other states. It will also prevent Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies and courts from being hijacked in service of laws that go against the values of the majority of Minnesotans who support equitable access to safe and legal abortion, and the guaranteed rights of all Minnesotans.

Testifying before the Health and Human Services Committee today, Dr. Laura Lara, a family medicine doctor in Minneapolis, said:

“Many of the laws that have been passed or introduced in other states seek to reach across state lines and enable anti-abortion extremists to impose not only their purported values, but also similarly harsh penalties on patients, providers, and anyone who helps a person seeking an abortion to get the care they need.

“Minnesotans should not have to live in fear of these people. Our health care and our ability to provide it and help people get it should not be subject to their interference, obstruction, and threats. This bill would enable me and others like me to offer the best available health care to our patients without the risk of being prosecuted for fulfilling our sworn duties.”

The RFDA is part of a package of bills introduced in this legislative session to enact strong protections for reproductive freedom and abortion access throughout Minnesota. In addition to the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, passed and signed into law in January, the proposed legislation includes:

  • The Reproductive Freedom Codification Act (HF91/SF70), removing from Minnesota’s legislative code a lengthy list of of restrictions on abortion rights and access, many of which have been ruled unconstitutional by Minnesota state court.
  • The Positive Pregnancies Support Act (HF289/SF336), expanding the resources, information, and support available to pregnant people through state-funded programs and ending the harm caused by state funding of anti-abortion centers and deceptive practices aimed at imposing an anti-abortion agenda.

All of these measures enjoy broad support among Minnesota voters. Polling commissioned by UnRestrict Minnesota and conducted by PerryUndem in December 2022 showed that:

  • Three quarters of Minnesota voters want to see abortion providers protected against legal action against them by other states that have banned abortion, and 74 percent support protections for people traveling from out-of-state to get abortion care in Minnesota.
  • Almost two-thirds of voters want laws that support rights and access to abortion, and 68% support repealing laws that restrict access to abortion.
  • 67% say they want everyone in the state to have equal access to abortion, regardless of their location or financial status, and 66% support Medicaid coverage for abortion care.

“Reproductive freedom is a Minnesota value,” said Abraham. “Attacks on access are not, whether they’re coming from anti-abortion activists and politicians here or from out of state. We must act now to enshrine these values in Minnesota law and clear the way for the promise of reproductive freedom for all people in Minnesota to be fulfilled.”