MN Legislature Introduces Bills That Could Restrict Access to Abortions

Abi Hilden, staff writer

Minnesota’s Legislature is back in session and abortion is one among the many issues being tackled by legislators. Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg,  has proposed and endorsed multiple new bills that, if passed, would restrict abortion access for Minnesotans in a variety of ways.

One of the most prominent bills is extremely similar to the Texas Heartbeat Act. It would be a criminal offense to obtain an abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, typically around 6 weeks into the pregnancy. Miller has been the main proponent of these bills, citing religious reasons as his call to action.

“My convictions before God are that I need to defend life, and so I’m going to continue to do so,” Miller told the Star Tribune. “What happens outside my influence – I can’t control that.”

Minnesota already has a few barriers in place regarding abortion, such as a required 24-hour waiting period, mandatory counseling and prohibiting abortion after viability. However, the last barrier comes without a timeline, unlike the six week waiting period in one of the proposed bills.

Miller has been proposing bills regarding abortion since 2018, and plans to retire after this session. He has also indicated that he does not aim to pass the bills, but rather to use them to generate conversation about abortion. As a fairly partisan issue, Republicans pushing for restrictions believe that the upcoming midterm elections and the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned this summer could clear a path for the bills to pass.

On the other side of the aisle, Democratic legislators are pushing against restrictions. Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, chair of the House Health Financial & Policy Committee, has been outspoken about the potential negative impacts that the passing of these bills could have for Minnesotans.

“This is a warning to Minnesotans of what will happen if Republicans get control of the Legislature and the governor’s office,” Liebling told the Minnesota Reformer. “They will go to extremes to stop pregnant Minnesotans from accessing the full range of pregnancy care, including the right to a safe, convenient abortion. Minnesotans deserve the right to make decisions about abortion based on their own values and priorities, without interference from politicians.”

Access to abortion is constitutionally protected in Minnesota due to the 1995 State Supreme Court decision in the case of Doe v. Gomez. The state has become somewhat of a regional and national destination for people who are seeking abortions and are unable to get them in their home state. 

Traction for the bills is unlikely, with a majority Democratic House of Representatives. Gov. Tim Walz has also stated that he would veto any of the proposed bills if they were to pass. With the debate of abortion rights ramping up all around the country, the conversation in Minnesota has just begun, and will continue to unfold in the coming months.