Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign a series of bills that would further enshrine the right to abortion and gender-affirming care into state law while banning so-called conversion therapy.
The Democratic-led state Senate passed three bills Friday after their Democratic colleagues in the House advanced the legislation earlier this year.
The reproductive health care and gender-affirming care bills, HF366 and HF146, seek to shield people from any legal action that other states may levy over such care.
The legislation banning conversion therapy, HF16, which garnered only two Republican votes, outlaws organized attempts to convert people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning into straight or cisgender people.
“If anyone doubts that we can take meaningful action to protect our kids, I’ve got two words for you: Watch us,” Walz said in a tweet Friday about legislation banning conversion therapy.
A spokesperson for the governor, Claire Lancaster, told CNN that Walz would sign the bills next week.
The measures follow a pattern set in Minnesota since it became the first state to codify abortion via legislative action since Roe v. Wade was reversed last year.
It stands in stark contrast with the bills cracking down on gender-affirming care and abortion pushed by Republican-led states across the country and follows a trend of blue states enacting shield laws to become havens for those seeking abortions and gender-affirming treatment who may be traveling from states where the practices are banned.
Some Republicans in Minnesota said that extending laws beyond the state’s borders could be unconstitutional.
“This legislation pushes Minnesota towards extensive litigation over constitutional issues with other states,” Republican state Sen. Paul Utke said of HF366 on the Senate floor Friday. “We are getting into telling them what they can and cannot do in how we are going to protect people.”
Utke warned that the bill could make Minnesota taxpayers liable for legal challenges and expensive payouts.
But the Democratic author of the abortion bill argued that Minnesota needed to act to protect abortion as more states seek to ban it.
“Without our action they will reach within our borders following patients and preventing them from receiving lifesaving medical care or punishing them for receiving such care, and penalizing the Minnesota professionals that continue to legally provide it,” state Sen. Kelly L. Morrison said during debate Friday.
The Minnesota legislation comes at a time when the future of medication abortion remains unknown.
The abortion rights community and its allies in the Biden administration secured a striking victory from the conservative-majority Supreme Court with an order Friday night that stopped restrictions on a medication abortion drug from taking effect.
But there is much still to play out in the litigation and Friday’s order is unlikely to be the justices’ final word on the Food and Drug Administration’s approach to regulating the drug.
On the state level, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a trio of bills earlier this month that further protect the rights to abortion and gender-affirming services, setting Colorado up to be a haven for people from states with more restrictive laws.
And last month, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Colorado’s blue neighbor to the south, signed legislation that prohibits local municipalities and other public bodies from interfering with a person’s ability to access reproductive or gender-affirming health care services in the state.