After more than 14 hours of debate, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill on Saturday that would establish a “fundamental right” to abortion in the state. Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has said he will sign the Protect Reproductive Options Act, known as the PRO Act, into law. The move makes Minnesota the first state to pass a law guaranteeing the right to abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Abortion is already legal in Minnesota as a result of a 1995 state Supreme Court decision. The bill will not have a major impact on Minnesotans’ current access to abortions, but would make it harder to restrict abortion rights in the future.
“What we saw was a need after Roe v. Wade was struck down this past summer, to codify the rights we currently have in Minnesota into the statutory law to provide that extra layer of protection,” said the bill’s lead author, Rep. Jen McEwen of Duluth.
The PRO Act passed the state Senate 34-33 on a party line vote. Democrats rejected numerous Republican amendments, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
“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,” McEwen said. “These are our values, this is the practice in Minnesota. This is what we believe.”