Abortion is still legal in Minnesota, but it has become a more political issue in this fall’s elections.
From a legal standpoint, Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade means little within Minnesota.
This is because the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that an outright ban on abortion would violate a woman’s “fundamental right to privacy” under the Minnesota Constitution. The decision, known as Doe v. Gomez, was passed in 1995 and lifted the government’s restriction on the use of public funds for the poor to fund childbirth, but not abortion.
The current composition of Minnesota’s highest court – a majority of Democratic governors appointed – makes it unlikely to change anytime soon.
ALLISON PLEASE PROTECT ABORTION
The current composition of the state’s top elected officials also makes it unlikely that anything will change in Minnesota now.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Democrat, pledged to make Minnesota a haven of sorts for anyone seeking an abortion, including pregnant women traveling from out of state.
The leader of Minnesota’s Planned Parenthood said she expects an influx of women from other states where abortion is now or will soon be banned.
NEIGHBOR STATES PROHIBITE ABORTION
On Friday, abortion was banned in Wisconsin and South Dakota.
In Wisconsin, the anti-abortion law remains in effect. It was unenforceable under Roe, but it is now in effect.
The rapid ban on abortion in South Dakota is the result of a so-called “trigger law” that banned the practice at the time the US Supreme Court ruling was issued.
North Dakota will outlaw abortion in a month, under a state law that could go into effect by now.
Abortion is still legal in Iowa, but last week the Iowa Supreme Court overturned its pro-abortion precedent. This means that the Republican-controlled state legislature and the Republican governor can ban the practice.
Minnesota’s ruling in Gomez is powerful because the new U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as Dobbs, does not say there can be no bans on abortion; rather, the Court ruled 6-3 that the US Constitution does not protect abortion, and thus it is up to each state to decide how to regulate this through its own laws and constitution.
But this is not a permanent guarantee, and advocates for access to abortion will no longer have support from the country’s Supreme Court.
Enter the abortion policy.
POLITICS IS HEATING
When the decision was made on Friday, elected officials, candidates and political groups of all stripes erupted in statements and fundraising emails.
Democrats, wary of headwinds during a nationwide midterm election amid high inflation and an unpopular president, see potential to mobilize voters and raise money despite fears of an anti-abortion crackdown.
“The governor’s office is now the last line of defense against Minnesota’s abortion ban,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a campaign email.
The statement is not entirely correct.
HOW ABORTION COULD BE OUTLAW IN Minnesota
The most obvious way to make abortion illegal in Minnesota would be the parallel path that brought the US Supreme Court to this point: changing the composition of the court.
Like the US Constitution, the Minnesota Constitution never mentions the word “abortion” or even the word “confidentiality.” So it’s entirely possible that a future court will decide that Gomez’s decision was misinterpreted, just as the U.S. Supreme Court decided Rowe was wrong.
In Minnesota, judges are most often appointed by the governor because that happens when they retire in the middle of their six-year terms, but everyone must run for re-election if they want to stay in office until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. .
So far, Minnesota’s formally non-partisan elections for state Supreme Court justices have rarely seen a heated party dynamic on issues like abortion. It remains to be seen whether this can change.
Two judges will be on the ballot this fall: Natalie Hudson, nominated by former Gov. Mark Dayton, and Gordon Moore, nominated by Waltz. Both are unopposed.
Any changes to the current 5-2 court composition (depending on the party of the governor who originally appointed them) must be the result of a long game, most likely centered around a Republican governor appointing judges who will support abortion restrictions passed by the Legislature. controlled by the Republicans.
For voters in the race for governor, the issue of abortion is simple.
“I would try to ban abortion,” said Scott Jensen, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Jensen’s partner, former NFL player Matt Birk, also opposes abortion.
On the DFL side, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who are both running for re-election, want to continue allowing abortion.
Another statewide office that could have a hand in abortion law, the race of the attorney general, also offers a stark contrast. Ellison supports access to abortion while his two Republican rivals do not.
Jim Schultz, the Republican-backed candidate, opposes abortion and on Friday accused Ellison of being “extremely anti-abortion.” In the August Republican primary — absentee voting began on Friday — Schultz will face Doug Wardlaw, who also opposes abortion.