Minnesota governor signs 'PRO Act,' protecting abortion rights in state

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill Tuesday into law protecting the right to abortion in the state.

The law, called the Protect Reproductive Actions Act, or the "PRO Act," establishes that "every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health," including abortion and contraception.

"After last year's landmark election across this country, we're the first state to take legislative action to put these protections in place," Walz said.

CONTRACEPTION ACCESS: George Washington University installs emergency contraception vending machine for students

What the PRO Act means for abortion access

The PRO Act has little impact on current abortion access in Minnesota. But its sponsors said the new law helps create a layer of protection for abortion rights in the state by making sure the right to abortion remains in place in case the composition of state courts changes someday.

"To Minnesotans, know that your access to reproductive health, and your right to make your own health care decisions, are preserved and protected," Walz said. "And because of this law, that won't change with the political winds and the makeup of the Supreme Court."

A 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision already protects abortion rights in the state. Last year, a district court judge also declared other restrictions — including a 24-hour waiting period before getting abortion and a requirement for minors seeking abortion care to notify parents — to be unconstitutional.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD FIRE INVESTIGATION: FBI investigating growing attacks on abortion and reproductive health clinics

Gov. Tim Walz signs the PRO Act during a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan.  31, 2023, at the Minnesota Department of Revenue in St. Paul, Minn.
Gov. Tim Walz signs the PRO Act during a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Minnesota Department of Revenue in St. Paul, Minn.

Republican lawmakers ask for veto

Republican lawmakers asked Walz Monday to veto the bill. They said Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature rejected amendments proposed by Republican lawmakers, including prohibiting abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy, except to save a patient's life.

BILL TARGETS HYDE AMENDMENT: House Democrats introduce bill targeting ban on federal funding for most abortions

White House responds

The White House applauded Minnesota for becoming the first state Legislature to protect abortion rights this year.

"While Congressional Republicans continue their support for extreme policies including a national abortion ban, the president and vice president are calling on Congress to restore the protections of Roe in federal law," Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Dig deeper: 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: PRO Act: Minnesota governor signs bill protecting abortion rights