Abortion rights is sticking point in Equal Rights Amendment

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Democrats have now revealed updated language for a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Minnesota constitution.

Women would be guaranteed equal rights, including the right to make all pregnancy decisions.

An ERA bill came up in the Senate last year without that language and it got some Republican votes, but they're now saying this version is deceptive.

Protecting women from gender discrimination is at least a somewhat bipartisan issue in Minnesota.

But guaranteeing them to right to make all pregnancy decisions, including on abortion, drew harsh criticism Monday from religious conservatives.

"He has a plan for every life and it is His," said Heather Clarkson. "And we will be punished if we do anything to take His inheritance, which is His souls coming to heaven for Him, away from Him."

Republican representatives latched on to comments from Republican activists accusing the DFL of being sneaky by attaching abortion to the less controversial freedoms.

"Your bill would lie to our people and trick us into voting for something that would kill our children," Mohamed Ahmed of the group Republican People of Color.

Democrats argued they don’t need tricks because protecting abortion rights is a winning ballot issue.

"We’ve seen it again and again in states that are much redder than our state, that people turn out to protect a woman’s right to choose," said Rep. Athena Hollins, (DFL-St. Paul). "So I don’t know why anybody would be sneaky about that."

The bill also includes protections on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, and disability, but not religion.

The bill’s author says the state constitution already includes religious protections.

Rep. Kaohly Vang Her, (DFL-St. Paul), comes from the family of the first Hmong Methodist minister in the world, and she rejected the notion that her bill or abortion are anti-religious.

"I am a woman who had an abortion," Rep. Her said. "I had an abortion because of an ectopic pregnancy. And no one gets to decide for me how my God’s going to judge me when I get in front of Him."

The bill could get a vote in the House as soon as Tuesday and it would still need to pass the Senate.

But the ultimate decider will be the people of Minnesota who would cast their ballots in 2026.