Minnesota DFL leaders push PRO Act to guarantee abortion rights

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade one local abortion provider has seen an increase...
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade one local abortion provider has seen an increase in patients.(Alex Laitala)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 8:13 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- Guaranteeing the right to an abortion is the number one priority for both the DFL-controlled Minnesota House and Senate this session.

In the wake of last summer’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the party is pushing for the Protect Reproductive Options Act to enshrine reproductive rights into statutory law.

“What the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act does is take politicians and take government out of that decision-making,” said Duluth DFL Senator Jen McEwen.

McEwen is the lead author of the PRO Act.

Currently, abortion is legal in Minnesota under Doe versus Gomez, a 1995 ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court.

McEwen said the PRO act would further protect that right.

“We know because of our experience this past year with the Supreme Court, the court is only as strong as the judges that are on that court,” McEwen said.

The bill is currently going through House and Senate committee hearings, where republicans have expressed concern.

“I’m not opposed to contraception, I’m not opposed to all the family planning stuff, it’s just when we get to the point about the termination part that I get concerned. It seems this bill would create a fundamental right to an abortion at any time of pregnancy,” said Republican Senator Jim Abeler of Anoka.

WE Health Clinic in Duluth is the only abortion provider for hundreds of miles.

Leaders there said in the months since the US Supreme Court ruling, there’s been an increase in need.

“The clinics down in the Cities were seeing an increase in patients coming from out of state and so their wait times were getting longer, and those local patients to the cities were getting pushed up to us,” said Paulina Briggs, a laboratory supervisor and patient educator with WE Health.

Briggs said while the bill’s passage would be a good thing for reproductive rights advocates, she believes there is more work to be done.

“There are people even just from right across the border in Wisconsin who aren’t going to be able to access abortion because their state has restricted it and they don’t have the resources to get over here to Minnesota, " Briggs said.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill Tuesday morning in a 6-3 vote.

It will now head to a different committee.