Ellison declines to appeal state abortion rights ruling, cementing expanded access in Minnesota

By: - July 28, 2022 12:25 pm

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Thursday that he will not appeal a judge’s ruling that expanded abortion access in the state, effectively strengthening rights for people to receive the procedure in Minnesota with fewer restrictions.

A district court judge earlier this month struck down laws related to parental notification, hospitalization, mandated physician care and informed consent, ruling the laws infringed on the fundamental right to abortion granted by the state Supreme Court in a 1995 ruling.

The 2019 case, Doe v. Minnesota, was brought by abortion rights groups that argued certain laws that established requirements to receive an abortion in Minnesota — like a provision that only physicians could perform the procedure — were unconstitutional. The judge’s July 11 ruling eliminated these requirements, and now Ellison said he will not appeal the judge’s decision.

In my view … not appealing the district court’s decision in Doe v. Minnesota is in the public interest and is the right legal decision,” Ellison said in a statement. 

Ellison said that even though he personally felt the Minnesota laws “were not good policy,” he defended them as the state’s top legal officer. He also said an appeal likely would not be successful.

The attorney general’s office said it spent $620,878 in taxpayer dollars and recorded 4,173 hours defending the laws since abortion rights advocates filed the lawsuit three years ago.

The court’s ruling — and Ellison’s decision to not appeal — seals Minnesota’s status as a refuge for abortion rights one month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and an abortion ban went into effect in South Dakota. Another ban is likely to take effect in North Dakota in the coming weeks.

Jim Schultz, the GOP-endorsed candidate for Minnesota attorney general, denounced Ellison’s decision on Twitter.

“Yet another dereliction of duty by Keith Ellison. All motivated by his far-left politics,” Schultz said. “These bi-partisan statutes are clearly constitutional and Minnesota deserves an attorney general who will stand up to activist judges.”

Ellison said not appealing creates needed certainty for Minnesotans.

Pregnant Minnesotans need to know what the law is,” Ellison said. “But a costly appeal that is unlikely to succeed will serve only to further delay the finality that all Minnesotans need and deserve. Allowing this decision to stand promotes that finality, especially as it is effective in every county of our state.”

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.