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House passes bill that could establish Minnesota as a safe haven for reproductive health care

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

Abortion is legal in Minnesota but not necessarily so in neighboring states.

To ensure access, preserve patient privacy and block other states’ laws from affecting health care within Minnesota’s borders, Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF366.

The so-called “Reproductive Freedom Defense Act” intends to protect patients and providers from legal or disciplinary action for acts involving reproductive health care.

Via a 68-62 vote, the House passed the bill Monday afternoon. It now moves to the Senate.

“We are in unprecedented legal territory regarding reproductive health care since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and with it, decades of legal precedent that had declared a constitutional right to abortion,” Agbaje said.

Minnesota House passes HF366 3/20/23

Laws have been introduced or passed in other states — such as Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Alabama — that would allow them to reach into places like Minnesota where abortion is legal to prosecute doctors and patients, she said.

“Providers now have to be concerned about the type of health care they provide and whether they will be prosecuted for giving patients the reproductive health care that they need,” she said.

The bill would require patient consent for release of reproductive health records. Another state’s more restrictive law authorizing a subpoena or investigation would not override this provision.

For reproductive health care services legal in Minnesota, the bill would prohibit disciplinary action against nurses, physicians and physician assistants solely for providing lawful care.

Minnesotans could countersue for any costs affiliated with a case brought against them for health care services permitted in this state.

To establish Minnesota as a refuge for reproductive health care, visitors would receive protections, too.

The bill would prevent the issuing of warrants or arrests, and block the extradition of anyone charged for a crime in another state involving reproductive health care performed in Minnesota.

Numerous Republicans oppose such indemnity.

“This is an extreme bill that disregards the priority of the rule of law in exchange for ensuring only the lives of wanted children are allowed to happen,” said Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover).

We’re making a law for other states, and no one here is going to be held accountable for that, she added.

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