Minnesota Constitution abortion rights amendment up for lawmaker vote

Enshrining abortion rights into Minnesota’s Constitution is expected to get a stamp of approval from the state House Monday night.

It’s the first of two votes setting up an election where Minnesota voters could be one of the first to approve an Equal Rights Amendment including abortion rights.

Abortion opponents say voters won’t understand they’re deciding whether to allow women to have abortions at any point during pregnancy.

Supporters say they’re not hiding that at all because voters support it.

Minnesota Democrats cleared any hurdles to abortion in 2023.

A year later, they’re trying to make the hurdles harder to re-insert.

"That is what we’re here to do today is make sure these protections can never be taken away no matter who is in charge," said Majority Leader Jamie Long, (DFL-Minneapolis).

The right to make pregnancy decisions is a piece of a proposed equal rights amendment to the state constitution.

Abortion opponents call it deceptive.

"This bill cloaks abortion up to birth under the guise of pregnancy, permanently enshrining unlimited abortion in our Constitution through trickery," said Cathy Blaeser, a co-executive director at Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life,

The ballot language would ask "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to say that all persons shall be guaranteed equal rights under the laws of this state, and shall not be discriminated against on account of race, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, or sex, including pregnancy, gender, and sexual orientation?"

Democrats say the ballot question cannot fit everything, but they doubt voters will be confused.

They did not include religion among the protections, but say it’s already protected in the state constitution.

They point out abortions later in pregnancy are usually because of extraordinary health risks and they are extremely rare.

The Minnesota ERA also would not force doctors at private hospitals to perform abortions to which they morally object.

"The ERA applies to state actors," said Jess Braverman, legal director for Gender Justice. "It applies to the government. And so it would not impact a private entity."

New York voters will cast ballots on a similar ERA this year, so Minnesota could be second.

If the House and Senate approve, this one would go to Minnesota voters in 2026.