Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz, who won another term in last year’s midterm elections, has signed a measure into law that makes access to reproductive health care including abortion a legally established right for residents of his state.
The measure would help with safeguarding protections for abortion and related forms of health care against potentially future attempts to roll back that access via making the protections clear. On a similar note, a proposed amendment to the state Constitution in New York will be going before voters next year after state legislators provided two required approvals for the measure. Although that state already generally allows abortion, it would put such protections in the state Constitution, making the legal framework more difficult to undo. Similarly fashioned amendments have a promising track record in recent elections. In the 2022 midterms, voters in states including California, Michigan, and Vermont approved similar proposals. As for the Minnesota measure, it sets “reproductive freedom as a fundamental right for every Minnesotan,” as a press release from the governor’s team explains.
A list of forms of reproductive health care protected by the new measure includes “contraception, sterilization, preconception care, maternity care, abortion care, family planning and fertility services, and counseling regarding reproductive health care,” Walz’s team added. The governor himself spoke of a mandate from state voters to act. “Last November, Minnesotans spoke loud and clear: They want their reproductive rights protected – not stripped away,” the governor said. “Today, we are delivering on our promise to put up a firewall against efforts to reverse reproductive freedom. No matter who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court, this legislation will ensure Minnesotans have access to reproductive health care for generations to come. Here in Minnesota, your access to reproductive health care and your freedom to make your own health care decisions are preserved and protected.”
States like Minnesota where abortion is generally permitted can serve as a sort of safe haven for residents of other locales, who can travel to those jurisdictions for health care opportunities. Other policy initiatives recently undertaken by Dems in state government include a new ban on so-called assault weapons signed into law in Illinois. The measure was set to block future sales of the firearms, but those who currently possessed a gun covered by the law could keep the weapon if they appropriately registered with authorities. Other states have similar bans. Around the time Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, who also won another term last year, signed the state ban, the mayor of Highland Park, which saw a mass shooting last year, pushed for further action on the issue, particularly at the federal level, where Republican hesitation predictably continues, although Dems and Biden have obviously supported measures on guns and abortion.