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Minnesota AG: More out-of-state residents could seek abortion care

Keith Ellison said restrictions in surrounding states could lead people to Minnesota, if U.S. Supreme Court strikes down protections.

Keith Ellison Planned Parenthood
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison speaks with health center manager Jessica Arsenault on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at Planned Parenthood in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Tuesday an increase in non-resident abortions is likely if a U.S. Supreme Court's draft opinion on the issue strikes down federal protections.

“Minnesota probably will be a destination point, because if you look at the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin, we are it,” he said, noting the surrounding states already have been working to reduce the rights to legal and safe abortions. “We’re it until you hit Illinois.”

Ellison said existing court opinions in Minnesota protect the right to seek an abortion, even as some impediments are in place.

He said his office will continue to defend existing state restrictions, including a requirement that minors notify both parents before receiving an abortion.

Other state limits include a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that only doctors can perform abortions.

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“We believe it is part of our job to defend the statutes,” Ellison said.

However, he said he’ll draw a clear line if future state legislation seeks to completely ban abortions.

“I can tell you as a matter of principle, I will never participate in the prosecution of a person seeking an abortion,” he said. “I just won’t do it.”

Ellison, who included a stop at the Planned Parenthood Health Center while in Rochester on Tuesday, said he’s been gathering information regarding the potential impact of the leaked draft and a potential Supreme Court ruling that would negatively impact Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve heard a lot of fear, anxiety and worry,” he said, adding that staff at health centers have also expressed concerns about services provided that don’t include abortion.

As the attorney general, Ellison said he sees justification in such worries, even though Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion attempts to limit the scope of the potential court action.

“There is no logical terminal point to his legal reasoning,” Ellison said. “His basic argument is that abortion is not specified in the Constitution, therefore there is no right to abortion. That is an absurd position, and he’s a very smart man, so he knows that.”

He said a similar argument could eventually lead to challenges of same-sex marriage or access to birth control.

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Stating a belief that the U.S. Constitution’s right to privacy includes the right to seek an abortion, Ellison said he has concerns about the potential decision then reverting back to individual state's decisions on the issue.

“I think it’s very sad that someone’s human rights are up to the state they live in,” he said.

Within Minnesota, he also predicted state control on abortion rights could lead to a political shift, if the draft opinion is supported by the Supreme Court.

“If the pro-life folks believe the only thing between banning abortion is what Minnesota law is, why wouldn’t they try to make that their signature issue every single year,” he said, suggesting such debates could fuel state government shutdowns and other inaction.

“It will change Minnesota politics,” he said.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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