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If Roe V. Wade Is Overturned, Minnesota Has Constitutional Abortion Protections


What happens in Minnesota if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court? Abortion will remain legal.

Here's why: Minnesota has its own protections because of a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that ruled Minnesotans have a constitutional right to get an abortion.

The only way to upend that would be by passing constitutional amendment banning or seriously restricting abortions, or for the court to reverse its decision after what would be a lengthy litigation battle.

A constitutional amendment needs to pass the House and Senate with simple majorities. There is no veto-power from the governor; voters would have to ratify the language. For an amendment to pass,  it must receive a majority of all votes cast in the election, so not voting on an amendment is the same as a 'no' vote, according to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

What are Democrats and Republicans saying?

Gov. Tim Walz and other Democrats on Tuesday sharply criticized a draft majority opinion, obtained and reported by Politico, from the nation's highest court reversing the landmark decision, which has prompted questions about the future of access to abortion nationwide as states would have the power to decide.

"The number of emails I've gotten and the number of people I've talked to—they are deeply concerned about what will happen," Walz said. "So here in Minnesota, we will continue to protect reproductive freedoms with everything that we have. But we recognize now that for the first time in 50 years, that is under jeopardy now."

Walz stressed the importance of November's elections, where all legislators in Minnesota are on the ballot. He speculated that if Republicans gain back control of the Minnesota House, they will move to pass a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Right now, Republicans and Democrats in the legislature share power.

"There is no if ands or buts about it – whatever means necessary—the Republicans have made it clear that they will restrict the right of women to make their reproductive choices in all circumstances: rape, incest and the health of the mother," Walz said. "So I think for us to theoretically talk about what would happen, there's no theoretics about this. It will happen."

GOP Sen. Michelle Benson, who recently dropped out of the race seeking the Republican nomination for governor, said Tuesday that the leaked draft opinion has "revived the discussion of abortion" in Minnesota.

She acknowledged that abortion is constitutionally protected because of the state's Doe v. Gomez decision, saying it adds an "extra step" in the process to outlaw or seriously restrict abortion access in Minnesota.

"Minnesotans across the board want us to reach consensus to support mothers and protect unborn babies," Benson said.

In the Minnesota House on Tuesday, GOP lawmakers tried to pass proposals that would license abortion providers in the state and ban taxpayer-funded grants from going to organizations that provide abortions or refer patients to the procedure.

Ultimately those provisions failed during a procedural vote.

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