Minnesota AG Ellison blasts court over abortion opinion, but says he'll defend state's restrictions
Abortion rights groups have sued the state in an effort to repeal Minnesota laws that set a waiting period to access an abortion, require that physicians perform the procedures and mandates that clinics collect information about patients.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday, May 4, said that while he fundamentally disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court's draft opinion rolling back the constitutional right to an abortion, he'll still defend state restrictions on abortion.
“I would’ve voted against all of them. I think they’re all bad policy," Ellison said about the Minnesota laws during a virtual news conference. "But the attorney general’s office has the responsibility to defend all state statutes."
A group of health care providers, faith groups and abortion access advocates challenged state laws restricting abortion access in 2019. A Ramsey County judge was set to weigh whether the state laws “impose burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on health care providers" next month, but has postponed the case indefinitely.
The lawsuit aims to strike state laws that stipulate that only physicians can perform abortion procedures, including medication abortions, require physicians to read from a script prior to a procedure and sets a 24-hour waiting period between a patient's first contact with a doctor and the time terminate a pregnancy.
Abortion opponents have said the laws are important in helping Minnesotans to make informed choices. Groups seeking to expand abortion access, meanwhile, said they insert inaccurate information in medical procedures and create burdens for patients.
Ellison was joined in the news conference by Planned Parenthood North Central States CEO Sarah Stoesz, who also blasted the court's opinion and urged lawmakers to enact policies protecting abortion access in state and federal law.
Their comments came in response to a report from Politico earlier in the week noting that the court was poised to strike down the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that protected the right to an abortion. In a leaked draft opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito, the majority writes that "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and should be overturned.
Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday, May 4, confirmed that the leaked opinion was authentic but said it wasn't final. The court is weighing if it should uphold a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in the case of a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.
In Minnesota, a ruling overturning the Roe decision and sending the issue back to the states would do little to change the status quo: Minnesota’s Supreme Court in a 1995 case upheld the right to an abortion under the state’s constitution.
Minnesota abortion providers said they were anticipating an influx of people from neighboring states coming across the border for abortion services.