Gov. Walz signs ‘Protect Reproductive Options Act’ into law

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has officially signed legislation to codify reproductive health care rights into law.

The governor signed the “Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act” at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon. CLICK HERE to read the legislation.

The House passed it last week 69-65 with all Republicans opposed. Rep. Gene Pelowski, of Winona, was the only Democrat to vote no.

RELATED: Minnesota Senate debates more protection for abortion rights

The bill underwent 15 hours of debate in the state Senate last Friday. It eventually passed by a vote of 34-33 as supporters and opponents rallied outside.

The bill would establish that “every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health” including abortion and contraception. It puts the right to have an abortion without restrictions into state law. It also protects sterilization, family planning, contraceptives and maternity care.

“Last November, Minnesotans spoke loud and clear: They want their reproductive rights protected – not stripped away,” said Gov. Walz. “Today, we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom. 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.”

Some state Republicans tried to make amendments that failed, including an abortion ban in the third trimester. Republicans called on Walz to veto the PRO Act, saying he said he didn’t support late-term abortions on the 2022 campaign trail so he should block the bill.

“We are acting in the most extreme bill in the country regarding sterilization, late term abortions, a public liability for vast array of new reproductive rights,” said Minnesota Republican Senator Mark Johnson, the Senate’s minority leader.

Supporters of the bill have said it’s about more than just abortion and is a fundamental right.

“Third trimester abortion is incredibly rare, it is almost always within circumstances that are very tragic and that these are nuanced and complex medical situations that require decision making between a patient and their care provider,” said Dr. Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States.

“We do now here in session have a duty to answer the call of Minnesotans to truly protect those reproductive freedoms to enshrine them, not simply in case law, but also in our statutory law,” said Minnesota DFL Senator Jennifer McEwen.

Others say it is too extreme.

“We hope that even the democratic members of the senate will agree that this is an extreme bill allowing abortion up through nine months,” said Giovanni Mowrey, of Students for Life Action.

Additional abortion-expanding bills have also been introduced at the Capitol. One bill would repeal numerous longstanding abortion-related laws, including a law protecting newborns who survive abortion.

Minnesota has become the first state to codify abortion just over a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.