MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A landmark case that has protected the right to abortion for nearly 50 years could soon be overturned, according to a leaked early draft of a Supreme Court ruling obtained by Politico.
The Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the document on Tuesday. The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, appears to have been circulated among the justices in February. But votes can often change, and a decision is not final until it is handed down by the nation's highest court.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade would result in nationwide consequences for women's access to abortions, and could be a key issue with voters come midterm elections in November.
In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz said on Monday evening that "the right to an abortion will be respected in Minnesota as long as [he is] in office," and senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith decried the potential ruling.
Abortion would still be legal in Minnesota even if Roe were overturned, though the state could become an upper-Midwest oasis for those seeking abortions. The lone clinic in North Dakota would likely close, and state laws threaten access in South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In Minnesota, abortion providers are required to report induced abortion figures every year to the state's health department.
According to data from the Minnesota Department of Health, 9,108 abortions took place in Minnesota in 2020, roughly 90% of which involved Minnesota residents. Of the near-10% of those who were from out of state, the largest portion came from Wisconsin, followed by South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa.
Since the 1980s, reported abortions have dropped by roughly 50% in the state, and the 2020 figure represented the lowest number of induced abortions in the last 30 years. Nationwide, abortion figures have declined overall between 2010 and 2019, dropping to a historic low in 2017 before rising again between 2017 and 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Most of the women who sought abortions in Minnesota in 2020 were in their 20s, which echoes national figures reported by the CDC.
People of color disproportionately sought abortions in Minnesota in 2020, which again mirrors national trends. The CDC says it is because of complex factors including disparities in rates of unintended pregnancies, unequal access to family planning services, economic disadvantages, and mistrust of the medical system.
Roughly half of those who sought an abortion in Minnesota were white, while roughly 30% were Black, and 10% were Hispanic.
Education levels also varied, but most of the women who reported their education level had some college experience.
MDH data says 87% of those who sought abortions were in their first trimester.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday that the "women's right to choose is fundamental," urging voters to elect lawmakers who would solidify abortion rights into law. Republican leaders praised the draft opinion, but criticized the leak. Minnesota anti-abortion rights group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life hailed the draft ruling and its leader, Scott Fischbach, said "something very big is about to happen."
Chief Justice Roberts has called the leak a "betrayal" and has since directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation.
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