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.

Keith Ellison.jpg
After greeting door-knocking supporters at North Commons Park in Minneapolis, Keith Ellison answered questions from the media on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.
Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press file photo

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.

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
What To Read Next
Harris will be coming to Minnesota following President Joe Biden's State of the Union address next week.
Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, Feb. 3, signed into law a bill establishing a Juneteenth holiday in Minnesota.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Jan. 25 requested public help after 35 overdoses in north-central Minnesota since Dec. 1, 2022.
After swift early action on abortion and climate legislation, Democrats are starting work on another of their priorities: creating new laws aimed at curbing gun violence.