The 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session officially ended on Saturday, May 25, 2019. While Governor Walz and legislative leadership were able to agree on a broad budget framework, the contrast between the two legislative bodies in our state could not be more clear.
During the 2018 elections, Democrats worked hard to flip 18 seats in the Minnesota House, including unseating 12 incumbent anti-women’s health Republicans. No DFL House incumbents lost their seats and Minnesotans elected the second pro-women’s health majority in the history of the Minnesota House, with an unprecedented number of members supportive of protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care. This was a huge deal and the work Planned Parenthood Action Fund volunteers did to ensure our champions were elected did not co unnoticed.
The DFL-controlled Minnesota House, led by Speaker Melissa Hortman, spent the 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session pushing for bold proactive policy that would have expanded access to health care. They introduced the Protect Access to Contraception (PAC) Act, which would have required that state-regulated health plans in Minnesota cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, counseling, and follow-up services at no out-of-pocket-cost and allowed patients to receive up to 12 months of birth control at one time, covered by insurance. They also introduced an additional allocation of funds to the Family Planning Special Projects Grant, a proposal that would have protected family planning clinics and the thousands of Minnesotans who rely on them for care. Additionally, they introduced a bill that would require Minnesota schools teach medically-accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education.
While these proactive policies were blocked from becoming law by the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate, we’re thankful for our champions for standing strong and remaining focused on the work that needs to be done to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care in our state.
Conversely, the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate spent this Session introducing restrictions and bans on abortion, including a 6-week ban on abortion, a 20-week ban on abortion, and a mandatory ultrasound bill. These harmful restrictions are part of a larger national strategy to systematically undermine abortion access and create a legal framework to challenge Roe v. Wade. Similar bans on abortion have been introduced and passed in dozens of states this year at record numbers. Make no mistake: anti-choice legislators in Minnesota are waiting for their chance to erode abortion access.
Thankfully, Governor Walz and Minnesota House leadership stood firmly as champions for sexual and reproductive health care and ensured that these extreme restrictions did not pass.
While we are grateful that no harmful, unnecessary abortion bans became law this year, there is more work to do to protect and expand access to birth control and ensure people can access the reproductive health care they need to stay healthy. We must continue to fight to protect access to health care and safe and legal abortion for all Minnesotans.