On Sunday, May 20, the 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session came to a close. Though it lasted only three months, Republican lawmakers spent the Session introducing and passing legislation that needlessly attacked reproductive health and rights.
- Ultrasound Bill: HF 3194 and SF 2849 would have required providers to offer patients the option to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion. Patients already have the right to view their ultrasound, and that’s not what this bill was about. It was about legislating the conversation that takes place between a doctor and a patient and would have set a dangerous precedent. Strongly supported by Republicans who control the Minnesota Legislature, the bill passed both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate and sent to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk. Thankfully, Governor Dayton stood firm as a champion of reproductive rights and vetoed this bill, underscoring the importance of electing another Governor that stands for our shared values.
- 6-Week Abortion Ban: HF 4524 would have outlawed abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected through abdominal ultrasound – as early as six weeks, before most people even know they are pregnant. This extreme ban has been struck down as unconstitutional in every state where it has been passed into law. The bill was introduced but did not meet legislative deadlines before Session ended.
- Personhood Bill: HF 2792 and SF 3382 would have banned abortion at the point of fertilization, confer personhood status on a fertilized egg, and make performing an abortion a felony crime. This bill was introduced and did not meet legislative deadlines before Session ended, but the House version of the bill had 13 authors – meaning that 13 Representatives believe that that politicians should make personal health care decisions for their constituents. This was an extreme, unacceptable and politically motivated bill.
- License Plate Bill: HF 2998 and SF 2644 would have required the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to create “Choose Life” license plates, with proceeds going to crisis pregnancy centers. This bill was introduced and failed to meet legislative deadlines, but it shows that anti-choice legislators in Minnesota would rather fund groups that actively dissuade or intentionally mislead people about their reproductive health care options than clinics that provide medically accurate, comprehensive services.
As if wasting taxpayer dollars on introducing and passing legislation that would be destined for a veto wasn’t enough, Republican lawmakers in Minnesota also rejected proposals for proactive policies that would have helped Minnesotans.
- Republican lawmakers voted against the Protect Access to Contraception (PAC) Act (HF 3453 / SF 3101), which would have protected the right to no-cost birth control for over 1 million Minnesotans from attacks by the Trump Administration and guaranteed the basic right of people in Minnesota to control their own bodies, plan their families, and access the birth control method that is right for them.
- Republican lawmakers voted against HF 4207 and SF 3911, a bill that would require that schools in Minnesota develop and implement a consent program for grades 8-12 to prevent and reduce incidences of sexual assault. This proposal would have allowed schools to integrate information about consent, personal responsibility, and healthy relationships into existing health programs and could have prevented Minnesotans from experiencing sexual harassment and violence – but instead, Republican leadership turned their backs on young people and voted against this common-sense proposal.
Yes, you read all this right. Republican lawmakers in Minnesota actually spent the entire legislative Session introducing extreme, anti-choice legislation while simultaneously rejecting proactive policies that would protect access to no-cost birth control and prevent Minnesotans from experiencing sexual violence.
But, there is good news.
Many of the lawmakers involved in these attacks will be on the ballot this November.
In the Minnesota House, every single representative is on the ballot. That’s right: Every. Single. One.
We’ve also seen the importance of having a governor who will stand for our shared values and veto any harmful, extreme legislation that rolls back access to reproductive health care. Governor Dayton is not running for re-election, and a new candidate will be on the ballot this fall – and we must make sure that we elect a candidate who is as much of a champion for reproductive and sexual health as Governor Dayton.
There are federal candidates on the ballot in Minnesota as well. And the Trump-Pence administration continues to attack reproductive health and rights by announcing policies such as the Title X gag rule, which would block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning funds and would prevent physicians from referring patients for abortion services. In Minnesota alone, approximately 53,000 patients could lose access to birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, and annual exams.
Although Trump is not on the ballot in November, many candidates at the federal, state, and local level who share his views and vote in favor of extreme anti-choice policies ARE.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure that we elect reproductive and sexual health champions who reflect our values. We cannot stand by as politicians continue to attack our health and rights – and we won’t. Pledge to vote for reproductive and sexual health champions in November → resistpersistvote.org