Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) signed a bill into law that establishes abortion as "a fundamental right."
Bill HF 1 or the "Protect Reproductive Options Act" describes reproductive health care as an all-encompassing series of procedures and services including abortion, contraception, sterilization, family planning, and more.
Though abortion is already legal in Minnesota, this marks the first legislative act by a state body to attempt to further codify abortion or its access, as reported by CNN.
“After last year’s landmark election across this country, we’re the first state to take legislative action to put these protections in place,” the governor said during the signing ceremony.
The bill, which mentions neither the word woman nor women, focuses on any "individual" having the right to abortion access.
"Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise this fundamental right," the bill's text reads.
Democrats control Minnesota's legislature along with a $17.6B surplus, moving swiftly to push through the new bill in the first month of the 2023 legislative session.
“Last November, Minnesotans spoke loud and clear: They want their reproductive rights protected – not stripped away,” Walz said in a news release.
“No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come. Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected,” Walz declared.
Before the signing, Republican leaders sent a letter to Governor Walz, "urging" the Democrat to veto the bill, saying that he is flip-flopping on his beliefs.
"While running for re-election, you assured Minnesotans that you did not believe abortion should be permitted up-to-the-moment-of-birth, and instead supported 'maintaining the timelines outlined by current law,'" the letter reads.
"Under current law, abortion is illegal in Minnesota after viability. If the health or life of the mother was in danger, late-term abortions must be performed in a hospital. The PRO Act allows abortion services far beyond these commonsense, consensus guidelines," the letter continues.
The letter concludes by urging the governor to veto the "extreme law."
In early January 2023, Minnesota lawmakers looked to take advantage of their control by submitting a bill to legalize cannabis as well.
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