New legislation passed Saturday in Minnesota guarantees a woman's right to abortion as well as access to sterilization and prenatal care. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Minnesota's Senate acted on party lines Saturday to pass a bill guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion and other reproductive care, all but assuring it will become state law.
Lawmakers passed the "Protect Reproductive Options Act" by a 34-to-33 vote following 15 hours of debate. All of the chamber's 34 Democrats voted for the measure, while all 33 Republican opposed it.
The new legislation establishes "a fundamental right to reproductive health," and now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to be signed into law.
"Here in Minnesota, we trust people to make their own decisions about their bodies," Walz said Saturday following the vote. "I'm ready to sign the PRO Act and codify reproductive rights into law."
The vote fell entirely along party lines as Democrats turned aside several attempts by Republican members to amend the bill by adding restrictions.
The legislation also bars the state's local governments from attempting to restrict access to sterilization and prenatal care while also stipulating coverage of the cost of birth control.
"The decisions of our courts, the upholding of our fundamental human rights, are only as strong as the judges that uphold them," Democratic State Sen. Jennifer McEwan, the bill's author, said following the vote.
"We have a duty to answer the call of Minnesotans to truly protect those reproductive freedoms, to enshrine them not simply in case law, but in our statutory law. These are our values, this is the practice in Minnesota. This is what we believe."
GOP opponents of the bill claimed it is too lax and does not lay out any term limit on when an abortion procedure can take place.
"We are enacting the most extreme bill in the country regarding youth sterilization, late term abortions and public viability for a vast array of new reproductive rights," Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson said following the vote.
Prior to Saturday's legislation being passed, abortion had been legal in Minnesota, following a 1995 ruling by the state's supreme court. In the ruling known as Doe v. Gomez, judges established constitutional rights to abortion in that state.
Women attend a candlelight vigil in Washington on June 26, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, ending federal abortion protections. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo