The Potluck

Video of Jensen’s running mate Matt Birk shows controversial views on abortion, women working

By: - July 19, 2022 11:05 am

Matt Birk, GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, via Twitter screenshot.

Even though abortion remains legal in Minnesota due to a 1995 state Supreme Court precedent, the issue continues to shape the 2022 governor’s race, with Gov. Tim Walz’s reelection campaign set to hammer likely GOP opponent Scott Jensen and his running mate Matt Birk on the issue Tuesday. 

Newly released video shows Birk speaking to a national anti-abortion group in Georgia on the day in June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade: “Our culture loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion. They’re telling women they should look a certain way. They should have careers, all these things.” 

(It’s unclear from the video clip what the relationship is between “the culture” promoting abortion and promoting women in the workforce. What is clear: If women stopped working, Minnesota’s economy would collapse. Just before the pandemic, women made up 51.5% of the Minnesota labor force.) 

In the same speech, Birk, a Harvard graduate who played professional football, made remarks about rape and abortion that are also likely to draw the ire of many voters. Nearly two-thirds of Minnesota Republicans support the right to abortion for victims of rape and incest, according to a recent MinnPost poll that showed broad support for abortion rights.  

Birk dismissed abortion rights activists who oppose abortion bans that do not allow exceptions for rape and incest. “One of the arguments I probably saw 20 times online today was about rape. And obviously they always want to go to the rape card.” 

He added: “Rape is obviously a horrible thing. But an abortion is not gonna, it’s not gonna heal the wounds of that. And, and two wrongs is not gonna, is not gonna make it right.” 

Birk also echoed the sentiments of many anti-abortion activists who have long equated their fight to the abolitionists’ battle to end slavery. 

“A lot of things have been legal before that we’ve changed, right? I mean, we always hear about the — I know I’m talking to a bunch of pro-life warriors here — slavery used to be legal, right?” Birk said. “Which is an interesting comparison to make, because, really, the way that the other side treats an unborn child is the unborn child is the property of the mother.”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is expected to respond at a Tuesday news conference.

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children