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Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Reproductive Freedom Codification Act

UnRestrict Minnesota Urges Passage Of Bill To Remove Unjust and Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Restrictions From MN Law

February 3, 2023

Erin Hart, Communications Director

Saint Paul, Minn.—The Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the Reproductive Freedom Codification Act (HF 91/SF 70) following a hearing in which an abortion provider, a church leader, reproductive rights and justice advocates, and a patient harmed by Minnesota’s anti-abortion laws urged legislators to remove a lengthy list of anti-abortion restrictions from Minnesota’s legislative code.

Said Senator Erin Maye Quade (56, DFL), in her testimony:

“For the last 50 years, in three separate court cases, Minnesota courts have repeatedly found abortion restrictions passed by this legislature unconstitutional and have affirmed again and again (and again) that Minnesotans have the fundamental right to make private decisions about whether or when to become a parent without the government interfering or trying to sway them one way or the other.”

Bethany Winkels, a Minnesota citizen who ended her first pregnancy in the second trimester due to a fetal anomaly deemed incompatible with life, told the lawmakers that the hurdles she had to clear in getting the care she needed only added to the pain and trauma of her experience:

“I could go on and on about the psychological pain and the righteous anger that I have felt regarding my experience with the 24 hour waiting period as well as the law regarding fetal remains. I will simply say they are unnecessary.

“Healthcare choices in general, and the choice to access abortion care specifically, are private, nuanced, and unique. Inserting medically unnecessary restrictions in an attempt to anticipate the needs of patients is not only harmful, it is arrogant. Even if you believe yourself to be well intentioned in your support of these restrictions, please hear me that the impact of these restrictions can be agonizing.”

Testified Christy Hall, senior staff attorney for Gender Justice:

“These restrictions exist for the purpose of stigmatizing and segregating abortion care.

“Passing SF70 would get these laws off our books for good. Leaving unconstitutional statutes creates dangerous legal ambiguity for providers and patients in our state.”

Minnesota’s Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to an abortion, but Minnesota’s laws are littered with restrictions on abortion care that have prevented too many people from getting the care they need when they need it, increased the cost of care, and intimidated patients and health care providers.

Minnesota courts have ruled that many of these laws violated the Minnesota state constitution — and many more clearly violate the same constitutional standards — but they remain on the books and could be revived through further legal action by politicians and activists who seek to end safe and legal abortion in Minnesota.

Among the harmful and unconstitutional anti-abortion laws HF91/SF70 would remove from Minnesota state law are:

  • 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.” This an unnecessary barrier to patients, 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.
  • A law requiring minors seeking abortion care to notify both parents — even if their relationships with their parents are abusive or they have no relationship at all. These requirements forced those unable to notify both parents to go through the court system to get their care approved, and made it a crime to provide abortion care to minors who don’t have precisely the right paperwork — adding trauma to what can be a very stressful and difficult moment in their lives.
  • A law mandating all tissue resulting from an abortion or miscarriage to be buried or cremated, an intrusive requirement that ignored the beliefs, wishes, and preferences of the individuals and families involved.
  • A law requiring abortion providers to collect and report to the state an exhaustive list of personal details about abortion patients — including how much money they make, the number of miscarriages they’ve experienced, the “specific reason” they’re having an abortion, and how they paid for the abortion— an egregious invasion of privacy by the state.

Polling commissioned by UnRestrict Minnesota and conducted by PerryUndem in December 2022 showed strong and even overwhelming majorities of Minnesota voters strongly supporting decisive action by state lawmakers to protect abortion rights and expand abortion access — with 68 percent specifically supporting the repeal of laws that restrict access to abortion.

The Reproductive Freedom Codification Act now moves to the Senate Finance Committee. UnRestrict Minnesota expressed confidence that the bill, which is supported by numerous medical associations and other experts — including the Minnesota Nurses Association, the Minnesota Medical Association, the Minnesota Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa — will be enacted into law, ensuring that abortion in Minnesota is not only a protected right under the law, but accessible, affordable, and safe for anyone who needs one.

“The Reproductive Freedom Codification Act will bring our laws back into line with the values and wishes of the vast majority of Minnesotans, restoring reproductive rights, and increasing reproductive health care access and equity throughout our state,” said Abena Abraham, campaign director for UnRestrict Minnesota. “We urge our legislators to move quickly to pass it and end the threat these unjust and unconstitutional laws will continue to pose for everyone in Minnesota as long as they remain on the books.”