The governors of two Democrat-led states – Minnesota and Washington – have signed laws aimed at helping those who travel to their states seeking an abortion or sex-change surgeries.
Under the recent laws signed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday, other states are blocked from using Washington-run or Minnesota-run courts and judicial processes to enforce their own prohibitions on abortion or sex change treatments for minors.
They’re the latest liberal states to enact legal safeguards for sex-change treatments and abortion after more than a dozen states have moved to limit both procedures in the year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Freedom of choice is a health care issue. We are protecting access to health care,” Inslee said amid his signing of the bill.
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Anti-abortion advocates and legislators questioned the need for Washington’s and Minnesota’s laws, since abortion is already protected under state laws. Washington Republican Rep. Jim Walsh tweeted that the policies are “anti-family.”
Gov. Tim Walz also made Minnesota a refuge for young people coming from other states for sex change care. He signed legislation Thursday making Minnesota a “sanctuary” for abortion patients from other states and banning so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ youth.
“Look, I don’t know how hard this concept is to understand,” Walz said. “When someone else is given basic rights, others don’t lose theirs. We’re not cutting a pie here. We’ve giving basic rights to every single Minnesotan.”
The legislation, according to a press release from the Minnesota legislature last month, would make the state a “trans refuge” and “prohibit the enforcement of a court order for removal of a child or enforcement of another state’s law being applied in a pending child protection action in Minnesota when the law of another state allows the child to be removed from the parent or guardian for receiving medically necessary health care or mental health care that respects the gender-identity of the patient.”
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“Gender-affirming” care, as defined by state law, is “medically necessary health care or mental health care that respects the gender identity of the patient, as experienced and defined by the patient.”
The Washington law responds to states such as neighboring Idaho that made it illegal for an adult to help a minor get an abortion without parental consent. Starting next year, anyone in Idaho who provides sex reassignment care for transgender youth could end up a convicted felon.
Similarly, the new Minnesota law is aimed at abortion patients not only from neighboring states, but also those from as far away as Texas who have made Minnesota a destination.
Minnesota’s first openly transgender legislator, Rep. Leigh Finke, was the chief House author of the transgender refuge bill.
“All of us are living our daily lives, trying to simply find space to be who we are, to love who we love, to exist in our schools, to exist peacefully in our families, just find a space for us to be whole,” Finke said.
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Republican Sen. Paul Utke argued against the abortion bill, saying that Minnesota should not protect doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who have intentionally violated the abortion laws of other states.
Abortion has been legal in Washington state since a 1970 statewide referendum. In 1991, Washington voters approved codifying Roe vs. Wade into state law. Clinics in Washington have reported 138 more abortions per month since the court decision to overturn Roe than in the months before it.
A Minnesota judge struck down most of the state’s abortion restrictions last summer. Walz then signed a bill in January codifying abortion as a right.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.