Minnesota’s abortion law would protect overseas providers and patients


Minnesota has progressive laws that protect local providers and their out-of-state patients from actions by states that punish those who seek or perform abortions, while Democratic lawmakers strive to establish the state as a haven for reproductive rights in the Midwest.

If enacted into law, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would expand an executive order enacted by Gov. Tim Walz (D) last year that protects abortion patients and providers from the laws of other states. The law passed Monday by a 68-62 vote in the Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives and now awaits approval in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority.

The US Supreme Court overturned it Roe v. calfEstablishing a national right to abortion, anti-abortion groups and several GOP-led states have moved to prevent patients from receiving the procedure in states where it remains legal.

Some of these efforts are inspired by a 2021 Texas law that would allow individuals to sue anyone who performs abortions or helps patients access the procedure. States like Missouri are considering similar proposals that specifically target residents traveling out of state for the procedure. The Biden administration said such proposals violate interstate trade laws, The Washington Post reported.

What you should know about Texas abortion law

“Neighboring states have begun to pass and implement harmful laws that attack not only abortion rights but also individual liberties and privacy more broadly,” said Rep. Esther Agbaje (D), who authored the House legislation . “Providers now need to be concerned about the type of health care they provide and whether they will be prosecuted for providing patients with the reproductive health care they need.”

GOP lawmakers called the bill an attempt to impose Minnesota legislation on other states. “This is an extreme bill that disregards the priority of the rule of law and ensures that only the lives of wanted children are allowed to happen,” said Rep. Peggy Scott.

The bill would require patients to consent before health care providers in Minnesota release reproductive health records, even if other states issue subpoenas. It would protect health care providers from potential disciplinary action and also prevent the arrest or extradition of anyone charged with a crime committed in another state for reproductive health care provided in Minnesota.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, a nonprofit, said its Minnesota clinic now regularly treats patients from states with strict abortion restrictions, such as Texas, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The overturning of roe played a role in the increase, said spokesman Jared Lathrop, who called Minesota’s proposed safe harbor law “exactly what we need.”

Anti-abortion lawmakers want to prevent patients from crossing state lines

Twenty-six percent of patients treated at Allianz’s Minnesota clinic last year were nonresidents, more than double the 2019 figure. As of February 2022, there were 96 patients from Texas, up from two for all of 2019, Lathrop said in an email.

California last year enacted laws preventing companies and law enforcement agencies from working with other states trying to target patients who sought an abortion in California. Washington state lawmakers are also debating a similar proposal.

In January, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill that would enshrine the right to abortion into state law, making it more difficult to overturn that right in court.


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