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Lawmakers and Advocates Push State and Federal Legislation to Protect and Expand Access to Abortion

In the wake of Texas’ abortion ban, Minnesotans call for action to protect reproductive freedom

 

September 17, 2021



St. Paul, MN -- Lawmakers and advocates gathered virtually on Thursday to discuss the state of abortion access and call for state and federal legislation to protect and expand abortion access in Minnesota and nationwide.

This month, Texas enacted the most oppressive abortion ban in the country’s history, banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they’re pregnant. It also enacts vigilante justice, empowering private citizens to sue anyone who helps a patient get an abortion and gives a reward of at least $10,000 if they successfully sue.

“The Texas abortion ban is contemptible and marks a new era that puts equitable rights to abortion at risk like never before. Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion care as a crucial part of sexual and reproductive health care; it’s a key reason our health care organization has been in our communities for over 100 years,” said Sarah Stoesz, President of the Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund. “Today our mission is more crucial than ever and now is the time to make our voices heard loud and clear. We must support leaders who stand for reproductive freedom and grow their numbers in our state. The future of abortion access depends on it—for the sake of Minnesota and for this region.”

The implementation of the Texas law comes as the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is set to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health this fall, a Mississippi case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the decision that established the right to abortion. If SCOTUS significantly weakens Roe, abortion rights would be determined by state law, paving the way for anti-abortion politicians to ban abortion across the Midwest and across the country.

“The recent Texas ruling by the Supreme Court is not only a blatant attack on women's freedom, but it’s also the most recent sign that the court seems ready to toss 50 years of precedent and take away women’s constitutional rights,” said U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.). “It’s clear that the 40-year effort by Republicans to radically remake the courts with the help of dark money and the Federalist Society has put Roe in peril. While there’s no easy way to reverse this erosion of reproductive rights, I believe a strong majority of Americans agrees with us on this issue. We have to do the long, hard work necessary to make change by increasing our majorities in Congress, eliminating the filibuster, and expanding the court. It won’t be easy, but that’s what it will take to ensure women’s reproductive rights and reproductive health.”

Minnesota is fortunate to have state constitutional protections for abortion today. At the same time, Texas is showing us what the future of abortion can quickly become. Earlier this year, anti-abortion lawmakers in Minnesota introduced four bills to ban abortion, and lawmakers in neighboring states have already stated their intent to introduce copycat legislation banning abortion. Minnesota is uniquely positioned to protect abortion access for our region. Minnesota can – and must – do more to protect and expand abortion access, to ensure that all Minnesotans can get the care they need, regardless of the courts.

"As an OB/GYN, I see every day how critical reproductive health care is for my patients. Abortion bans like the one that passed in Texas only put people's lives at risk and force them to carry pregnancies they may not want. Minnesotans - not anti-abortion politicians - should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health care decisions, including the decision to have an abortion. That's why I'm proud to author the Protect Reproductive Options Act, which would codify the right to abortion and reproductive health care into our state law," said Rep. Kelly Morrison, M.D.

The Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act (HF 259/SF 731) would codify the right to abortion into Minnesota law, and would also protect the right of each Minnesotan to make their own decisions about contraception and pregnancy. Passing the PRO Act would add an additional layer of protection for abortion rights by ensuring that abortion remains safe and legal in Minnesota if Roe v Wade were overturned or eroded.

"We know, unequivocally, that abortion bans like S.B. 8 in Texas harm people who already face systemic and unjust barriers to health care - mainly low income Americans and people of color. Abortion is health care and with this new law, our country is doubling down on our shameful distinction as the only industrialized nation with a rising maternal mortality rate. We must expand accessible and affordable health care in our country and in Minnesota. We can - and must - do better," said Dr. Rachel Hardeman, MPH, Ph. D, Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity.

For years, politicians have attacked sexual and reproductive health care. By taking away the ability to prevent pregnancy and chipping away at the right to abortion, we are in a new era of reproductive health care where individuals may be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

A 2019 NPR/PBS News Hour/Marrist poll found that only 13% of Minnesota adults overall want to overturn the Roe standard and only 31% of Minnesota Republicans want to overturn it. The overwhelming majority of Minnesotans who oppose overturning Roe deserve to know that with the new conservative Supreme Court majority, we need to take action at the state level to make sure that abortion remains safe and legal in Minnesota.

“Our abortion procedure saved my uterus, and I was able to grow our two other sons in it,” said Tippy, a reproductive rights advocate in Minnesota. “My husband and I still want to add to our family. When I think about the Texas abortion ban, S.B. 8, I get so concerned for the families in Texas who have yet to start, and for the families who have yet to be completed like mine. I knew I was pregnant by 6 weeks but my babies didn’t stop developing properly until 12 weeks; well after the ban and after the ‘risk’ of miscarriage. The Texas law would have left me without a uterus and without children.”

Founded in 1992, the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization. As the advocacy and electoral arm of PPMNS, we mobilize supporters of all parties to defend and increase access to family planning services and fact based, medically accurate sexuality education. We work to inspire and engage citizens to take up the cause of reproductive health and rights through education, electoral activity, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy.

Visit us at http://www.plannedparenthoodadvocate.org

 

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