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Minnesota Senate narrowly backs abortion rights in state law

The Minnesota Senate voted early Saturday to strengthen abortion rights in state law after about 15 hours of debate between Democrats in favor of the measure and Republicans who oppose it.

Governor Tim Walz supports the bill — known as the Protect Reproductive Options Act, or PRO Act for short — and is expected to sign it into law in the coming days. It represents a key priority for the DFL, newly in full control of the state government, which moved quickly after taking office earlier this month to firm up abortion rights in Minnesota.

The 34-33 vote, which took place around 3 a.m., was in the party line, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. Republicans unsuccessfully proposed several amendments aimed at creating exceptions to full legality, including an attempt to ban third-trimester abortions. The House previously passed the legislation 69-65, with all but one DFL member in favor and all Republicans opposed.

Abortion remained legal in the state after last summer’s vote by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, but abortion-rights supporters said it was important to strengthen these protections against possible future legal challenges.

“This is a critical first step in establishing strong protections so that everyone in Minnesota can make their own decisions about their reproductive destiny,” said Abena Abraham, campaign director for advocacy group UnRestrict Minnesota, in a statement prepared after the Senate vote.

The law states that “every individual has the fundamental right to make autonomous decisions regarding their own reproductive health,” including abortion and contraception. Legislative Democrats plan to make new changes to the state’s abortion law this session, aimed at restricting state funding to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are nonprofits created by opponents of abortion and aimed at dissuading women from terminating their pregnancies.

Another proposal aims to protect people and providers from legal threats if they travel to Minnesota for an abortion.

startribune Gt Itly

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