State Watch

Minnesota House advances measure shielding patients from other states seeking abortions

Abortion protesters on both sides pack the halls at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

The Minnesota House passed a measure on Monday to protect out-of-state patients from legal repercussions if their state has banned or severely restricted their access to abortion. 

The state House said in a post on its website that the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act passed on Monday in a 68-62 vote, sending the bill to the state Senate. The act would prevent patients and doctors from facing legal or disciplinary consequences for actions involving reproductive health care. 

The post notes that lawmakers in several states, such as Texas, Georgia and Missouri, have introduced bills or passed laws to allow them to prosecute medical providers who perform an abortion and women who receive them out of state. 

“We are in unprecedented legal territory regarding reproductive health care since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and with it, decades of legal precedent that had declared a constitutional right to abortion,” said state Rep. Esther Agbaje (D), the sponsor of the bill. 

The legislation would require a patient’s consent for their reproductive health records to be released, which the post states would block another state’s law allowing for a subpoena to be issued for that information. 

It would also ban any disciplinary action being taken against physicians, nurses and physician’s assistants for providing medical care legal in Minnesota and prevent search and arrest warrants from being issued and the extradition of anyone who is charged in another state for receiving reproductive health care in the state. 

State House Republicans slammed the legislation, with Rep. Peggy Scott calling it an “extreme bill that disregards the priority of the rule of law.” 

“We’re making a law for other states, and no one here is going to be held accountable for that,” Scott said. 

The Associated Press reported that House Majority Leader Jamie Long (D) argued the bill is necessary because legislation has been introduced in multiple states similar to a law from Texas, which allows private citizens to sue abortion providers if they believe they performed an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. 

Long said these types of bills could pose a risk to Minnesota providers and those who provide transportation to people coming to Minnesota for an abortion. 

Abortion providers from Minnesota told AP that they have seen a significant increase in the number of people seeking an abortion from out of state beyond Minnesota’s neighbors. One said they have regularly been receiving patients from southern states like Texas and Louisiana, while another said their out-of-state patients more than doubled from 2019 to 2022. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) has reportedly already vowed that he would not cooperate with other states trying to prosecute women who receive abortions in the state.

Tags abortion ban Keith Ellison Minnesota reproductive health care reproductive rights

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