On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion.
The opinion by the Supreme Court will have a major impact in states across the country that have already signaled their intention to restrict or ban abortion. MPR News’ Michelle Wiley spoke with host Cathy Wurzer about the impact on Minnesota.
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MICHELLE WILEY: Thank you.
CATHY WURZER: Big question for Minnesotans is, what does this decision mean for our state?
MICHELLE WILEY: Right. So abortion is going to remain legal in Minnesota. There was a 1995 decision, Doe v Gomez and the state constitution, which enshrined abortion under the right to privacy. What could happen in Minnesota is that we could see a lot more people coming to our state to seek an abortion from surrounding states where access is now severely limited or outright banned.
CATHY WURZER: What are you hearing so far from Minnesotans?
MICHELLE WILEY: Yeah, I spoke to some providers this morning, and this is something that they've been expecting for some time now, certainly since the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs came out in the beginning of May. But even before then, when the Supreme Court said it was taking up the case, some say they saw it as the writing on the wall that there could be a-- that this day could come.
Despite that, a lot of people have expressed shock and anger. Even though they knew this was coming, it still hit them very strongly. I heard from the WE Health Clinic, which is up in Duluth. And they said this morning they had a call from a concerned patient who wasn't sure if their appointment would be kept despite the fact that it is still legal in Minnesota. So they're definitely hearing concerns from patients and just trying to respond as quick as they can.
On the other side of the equation, groups like Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life said this is a historic day and are really praising the decision. I should mention Governor Tim Walz says the ruling changes nothing in Minnesota as long as he is in office. When it comes to other politicians, they've fallen under expected lines. Many Democrats are condemning the decision. Many Republicans are praising it. We should say, though, that Republicans are not specifically saying in their statements that abortion should be illegal in Minnesota. Though some, like gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, have said so in the past.
CATHY WURZER: Getting back to the governor, he's going to join us a bit later on here in the hour, so we'll talk to him directly. Minnesota, of course, abortion is legal under the state constitution, as you mentioned earlier in our conversation-- with certain exceptions. Can explain those?
MICHELLE WILEY: Yeah, so there are some restrictions on the books. One example is the 24-hour waiting period, which requires that you make an appointment with the performing or referring physician 24 hours ahead of when the abortion would be scheduled. And that person is required by state law to give certain information to the patient, which advocates say is medically unnecessary and unduly burdensome.
Another example is the parental notification laws. So if you're under 18, you have to notify both parents on your original birth certificate. They have to either be with you or sign something saying that you were notified. I should say minors can also seek judicial bypass, meaning a judge would step in and allow you to get an abortion without notifying your parents in certain circumstances. There's also a lawsuit challenging those restrictions, Doe v Minnesota. That is something that is ongoing now.
CATHY WURZER: I'm wondering, what will happen to abortion pill by mail services? Are those in legal limbo?
MICHELLE WILEY: That's a good question. I think that's something that's not-- that's an open question, you know? It may depend on where you are. Certainly in Minnesota, things won't change. But that might not be the case if you live in another state. There are some where their abortion restrictions explicitly say it is illegal to prescribe or help someone obtain medication abortions. Now experts have said it would be difficult to enforce those laws, especially when pills are coming by mail. But I think that's still something we'll have to wait and see.
CATHY WURZER: You alluded to this a bit early in our conversation here. Where do abortion rights stand in neighboring states?
MICHELLE WILEY: Right, so in North Dakota-- North and South Dakota both have trigger laws on the books. In North Dakota, as some may know, it doesn't go into effect until a recommendation from the attorney general to the legislative council. So there is some time before that happens. I did speak to Tammy Kromenaker with the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo that is moving to Moorhead and said, even though that recommendation hasn't been made, they are expecting that law to go into effect, making abortion legal there. So they are planning to move to Minnesota.
In South Dakota, the law went into effect immediately. So clinics there are not providing appointments for people to get abortion access. That is in effect now. In Wisconsin, there is a 173-year-old law on the books that has banned abortion that was there previously. It was unenforceable beforehand, and we should say the state attorney general there has said he won't enforce it. There are some questions of legality because it is so old.
However, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin announced today that it has also suspended abortion services in the state. In Michigan, there's similarly a law banning abortion on the books as well. But there is an injunction that prevents it from being enforced. And in Iowa, abortion is still legal but banned after 20 weeks. Recently, the state Supreme Court decided to reverse a 2018 ruling that abortion was constitutionally protected there. So that could make it easier for the legislature to pass more restrictive abortion laws, especially now that Roe's been overturned.
CATHY WURZER: I know some people are a little confused about this. So say people were to travel to Minnesota from other states to get an abortion, right. Could they be prosecuted.
MICHELLE WILEY: Right. So earlier this week, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota's attorney general, said he would not prosecute anyone who came to Minnesota for a legal abortion, anyone who assisted them in seeking a legal abortion, any providers who come here to assist with abortions. He also said he would not support extradition requests from other states. How that might work legally I think is still somewhat of an open question. But Ellison said his office is looking into all legal avenues.
CATHY WURZER: So a few weeks ago, we were talking to the head of Planned Parenthood, Sarah Stace. And she said that Planned Parenthood is preparing for this influx of patients here in Minnesota if Roe were to be overturned. Obviously that's happened. So can you talk about the impact this could have on Minnesota's health system?
MICHELLE WILEY: Yeah. I mean, I think that impact is already being felt. And to some degree, I've spoken to providers who say they're already seeing more patients coming from Texas and similar states with more restrictive abortion laws. The clinic in Duluth that I mentioned earlier, they've seen an influx of patients from the Twin Cities because folks are having a harder time getting an appointment.
So I think that what folks are expecting is that the need will be much, much greater. And especially now that Roe has been overturned and so many neighboring states are banning or making seeking an abortion quite difficult.
CATHY WURZER: Another person we were talking to earlier this morning said she was wondering, because there is a shortage of health care workers in the state, with that shortage and now an influx of patients from other states, would that mean that Minnesotans might have a hard time getting an abortion? I know I'm throwing that at you, but I don't know if you've heard that.
MICHELLE WILEY: I have, actually. That's definitely a factor. Some clinics, workers at clinics that I've spoken to said that they want to offer more days, but they have to find the staff to be able to support those extra days where they would be providing abortion care. That is definitely a factor in this and will certainly affect both Minnesotans and people coming from out of state to seek care here.
CATHY WURZER: I know you're going to be busy here today. I know you're going to be reporting for All Things Considered, too. Michelle, thank you so much.
MICHELLE WILEY: Thank you.
CATHY WURZER: That was NPR News health reporter, Michelle Wiley.
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