Minnesota unaffected if Roe v. Wade struck down, but GOP majority could change that, Walz warns

Women in Minnesota have a state constitutional right to abortion after 1995 ruling

By: - May 3, 2022 12:50 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Minnesota DFL leaders are pledging to preserve abortion rights in the state, repudiating a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion obtained by Politico that would strike down Roe v. Wade. 

“Not on my watch,” Gov. Tim Walz tweeted Monday night when Politico first published the 98-page opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. 

Abortion access in Minnesota would not be affected if Roe v. Wade is struck down. The Minnesota Supreme Court established a state-level constitutional right to abortion access in the 1995 ruling of Doe v. Gomez

But a GOP-controlled Legislature, Walz warned on Tuesday, could try to put abortion restrictions on the ballot in the form of a state constitutional amendment, entirely bypassing a DFL governor. Only a simple majority is needed to send a constitutional amendment to the voters.

In 2012, a GOP-controlled Legislature sent a voter ID and a gay marriage ban to the voters. Minnesotans voted down both. 

All 201 legislative seats and the governor are up for election, making the fall election a critical one for abortion rights. 

All of the top GOP contenders for governor have pledged to push for abortion bans in Minnesota, including former Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska and Sen. Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake. Kendall Qualls has also described himself as “100% pro-life.” 

Neil Shah, a dermatologist running for the GOP endorsement, retweeted Walz’s “not on my watch” tweet by saying, “On my watch.” 

Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, who recently suspended her campaign for governor, said in a statement that if Roe v. Wade is struck down, she and GOP colleagues would push to protect “unborn babies.” 

“Republicans support women facing challenging and unplanned pregnancies and will continue our efforts to give unborn babies and pregnant women every opportunity at a healthy, happy life,” Benson said.

The Minnesota Family Council said in a statement it celebrated the draft ruling and said it was only the beginning of efforts to restrict abortion. 

“We are working to make this a reality in Minnesota – and we are well on our way,” said the group’s CEO, John Helmberger. “When the court’s decision is finally handed down, the real work of pro-life organizations across the country will begin.”

In Washington, Minnesota’s Democratic congressional members are rallying to push for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade

The U.S. House has passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, an abortion rights bill, on a near party-line vote, but Democrats do not have the votes necessary to overcome a Senate filibuster that requires 60 votes to move anything in the upper chamber. 

“This is bullsh**,” U.S. Sen. Tina Smith reacted on Twitter Monday night.

“President Trump stole two Supreme Court seats,” she said in a subsequent statement. “And Republicans will have to answer for their role in this attack on women’s freedom and equality. Let’s get organized and get to work.” 

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar says the midterm elections will be critical if Congress is to enact a law allowing for abortion access. 

“We are literally stripping the women of this country of their rights,” she said on CNN. “If that happens, I think you’re going to see repercussions like never before.”

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.

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