The small town of Prinsburg, Minn., is considering a law that would allow residents to sue medical providers that assist in abortions.
While similar ordinances have been passed in Texas and Nebraska, both of which have banned abortion in almost all cases, the Prinsburg initiative differs in that it would be passed in a state that continues to preserve the right to an abortion.
The ordinance was introduced by Tim Miller, the Republican state representative for the Kandiyohi County district that encompasses Prinsburg, a town of just 500 people on Minnesota’s Western prairie. Miller has said that he intends to retire from his post in order to focus exclusively on the issue of abortion as an activist.
“This is not just an impulse…This is in God’s timing. We need to start somewhere [and] we will be working to pass ordinances in other communities,” Miller told Minnesota’s Star Tribune. Miller clarified that the law should not be seen as targeting women but rather penalizing “the animals who tell her that’s OK and profit from it.”
The town’s mayor, Roger Ahrenholz, confirmed that the ordinance was introduced at a public hearing last week during a City Council meeting.
“The Prinsburg community, and surrounding area, is very much a pro-life community…Thus, when Mr. Tim Miller approached the city council about adopting this ordinance, the council decided to consider it,” Ahrenholz told the Star Tribune.
The law is based on a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue any individual who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
However, some legal experts are skeptical that such legal ingenuity is constitutional in Minnesota.
Laura Hermer, a professor from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota told the Star Tribune: “This is something that I am pretty darn sure is outside the power of this municipality to promulgate…While the state of Minnesota may not be able to restrict a given right, to say your neighbor can — and the state can allow your neighbor to effectively take away that right — it makes a mockery of what we call rights.”
Senior Democratic lawmakers are also reportedly considering adding abortion protections into state law to prevent such legal initiatives.
Nevertheless, Miller believes this to be highly unlikely given that it would involve overriding local ordinances, the Minnesota News Network reports.