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Report: Minn. Earns High Marks for Reproductive Rights

Minnesota is one of only 17 states to earn high marks on a national scorecard for women's reproductive health access. (iStockphoto)
Minnesota is one of only 17 states to earn high marks on a national scorecard for women's reproductive health access. (iStockphoto)
January 13, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The year 2015 was challenging for women's reproductive rights, and the new year is shaping up to be just as fierce. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up two big cases on abortion and contraception in the coming months, but a family-planning advocacy group says some of the biggest challenges are coming in at the state level.

The Population Institute's scorecard by state on reproductive rights gave Minnesota a B-minus, one of 17 states to get that grade or higher. Jennie Wetter, the group's director of public policy, said that's because Minnesota is doing several things right.

"Minnesota is also one of the states that has expanded their Medicaid family-planning program beyond what is under the Affordable Care Act," she said, "so women up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line are able to get affordable family planning."

Wetter also credited the state for not enacting so-called TRAP laws, which restrict funding or access to such reproductive service providers as Planned Parenthood. Still, the report noted that more than half of the women in Minnesota, 59 percent, live in a county without an abortion provider.

While Minnesota mandates that sex-education programs be taught in public schools, the state does not require that students be taught about condoms or other forms of contraception. Wetter said changing this one issue could have several long-term benefits for students, "so that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to lead healthy, productive lives, making sure that they don't get pregnant unintentionally, or don't get STDs or STIs."

Minnesota got a perfect score on the report for its low rate of unintended pregnancies.

The reproductive report card is online at populationinstitute.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN