A Ramsey County judge ruled Monday that several laws regulating abortion in Minnesota violate the state constitution.
Minnesota has become even more of a Midwest abortion safe haven after a district court judge’s sweeping ruling striking down several laws restricting abortion access.
Ramsey County District Judge Thomas Gilligan struck down laws related to parental notification, hospitalization, mandated physician care and informed consent.
“These abortion laws violate the right to privacy because they infringe upon the fundamental right under the Minnesota Constitution to access abortion care and do not withstand strict scrutiny,” Gilligan wrote.
Abortion rights were already protected in Minnesota due to the 1995 case Doe v. Gomez that established a state constitutional right to the procedure. This ruling expands on this precedent, just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leading to a patchwork of abortion restrictions around the nation, including bans in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The Minnesota case, called Doe v. Minnesota, was brought by abortion rights groups in 2019.
The court struck down certain laws regulating by whom and where abortions can be performed. Minnesota law allowed only physicians to perform abortions; the “hospitalization law” mandated abortions after the first trimester must be performed in a hospital or abortion facility. Those requirements are now gone, and people who violate those provisions cannot be prosecuted, according to the judge’s ruling.
The decision expands access for those under 18 seeking an abortion by overturning the parental notification law. This had required parents be informed 48 hours before an abortion could be performed, or that minors go through a court exemption process.
Gilligan wrote that since a minor can carry a pregnancy to term and give birth without parental notification, they can also terminate the pregnancy.
The court also blocked enforcement of the informed consent — or “mandatory consent” — law, which requires physicians to give specific information prior to a procedure. Gilligan said the mandate is overly broad, “misleading and confusing” and violates the state right to free speech. The ruling also overturns the requirement that abortion providers wait 24 hours before carrying out a procedure.
Gilligan criticized the law further: “Forcing abortion patients to go beyond informed consent, to require them to be really, really certain of their decision, insults their intelligence and decision-making capabilities. It can also have a detrimental and traumatic impact.”
The state could appeal, but for now, the decision immediately expands abortion rights for those in Minnesota and those that come from other states seeking care. Attorney General Keith Ellison — a staunch supporter of abortion rights whose office defends state laws — told the Star Tribune he hasn’t decided whether to appeal the decision.
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