Minnesota Now - June 24, 2022

A woman smiling by a microphone
MPR News host Cathy Wurzer

This is a special edition of Minnesota Now, covering the breaking news out of Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade and struck down the constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion is still legal in Minnesota. In this hour, host Cathy Wurzer talks with a whole host of people about how this decision affects Minnesotans and the region.

MPR News Health reporter Michelle Wiley is here with reactions to the decision from organizations across the state. A University of Minnesota law professor tells us how this affects other issues regarding privacy and our personal lives.

And Governor Tim Walz shares how the state health agencies will react in the short term and how this may effect the election in November.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] CATHY WURZER: This is a special edition of Minnesota Now. I'm Cathy Wurzer. We're covering the breaking news coming out of Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court has reversed the Roe v. Wade decision and struck down the constitutional right for women to get an abortion. Abortion is still legal in Minnesota. I'm talking with a whole host of people about this decision.

Joining me will be MPR health reporter Michelle Wiley. She'll have reactions to the decision from organizations across the state. A U of M law professor tells us how this affects other issues regarding privacy and our personal lives. Governor Tim Walz is here to talk about how the state health agencies will react in the short term and how this may affect the election in November.

Stay tuned for all of that and more right after the news.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Live from NPR News, I'm Lakshmi Singh. Certain states are now enacting stronger abortion restrictions now that the overwhelmingly conservative US Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmidt issued an opinion that effectively enacts a 2019 law that makes most abortions in the state illegal, including in cases of incest or rape.

One state that could be profoundly affected by the court's ruling is New Mexico, which borders on several states likely to severely restrict abortion. From Member Station KUNM, Alice Fordham has details.

ALICE FORDHAM: Abortion is likely to remain legal in New Mexico, but Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah could now all but ban the procedure outright.

CHRISTINA TOSI: We're going to have shortages of appointments of providers because of the influx we'll see.

ALICE FORDHAM: Christina Tosi is the medical director of Planned Parenthood in the Rocky Mountains. Since Texas banned abortions after six weeks last year, New Mexico's clinics have been stretched.

CHRISTINA TOSI: I was just struck by the tremendous driving times, and patients just having to rearrange everything in their lives. Oh, it was-- I mean, it's just heartbreaking stories.

ALICE FORDHAM: Another local advocacy group says the coming influx will make it harder for New Mexicans, especially those in rural or low-income areas, to get abortion care. For NPR News, I'm Alice Fordham.

LAKSHMI SINGH: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says congress will work to overcome wide-reaching damage from extremism fueled by the country's most powerful Republicans.

NANCY PELOSI: Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party, their supermajority and the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers.

LAKSHMI SINGH: But today's GOP-backed ruling is a moment millions of other people, like Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, have been waiting years to witness.

TERRY SCHILLING: These are human beings. These are human beings that deserve rights, that deserve at least nine months in the womb, and then to be given up for adoption. They deserve a shot at life.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Now to New York, where lawmakers say they'll hold a special session of the state legislature to pass new gun laws aimed at limiting the impact of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling. The ruling is expected to allow far more people to carry guns in public. Here's NPR'S Brian Mann.

BRIAN MANN: The court's conservative justices struck down a century-old system that regulated who could carry firearms in public. Elected officials, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, say they'll do everything possible to keep guns off the streets.

ERIC ADAMS: We'll not allow our city to live in fear that everyone around us is armed, and that any altercation could evolve into a shootout.

BRIAN MANN: Lawmakers say they hope to tighten remaining gun permit rules and expand the list of sensitive places where guns aren't allowed. Any new restrictions will have to pass Second Amendment legal muster before a very conservative Supreme Court. Brian Mann, NPR News, Westport, New York.


ANNOUNCER: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations. Other contributors include DuckDuckGo, a privacy company committed to making privacy online simple. Used by tens of millions, they offer private search and tracker blocking with one download. DuckDuckGo-- privacy simplified.

STEVEN JOHN: For MPR News in the Twin Cities, I'm Steven John. The overturning of federal abortion rights is reverberating through the states that are now able to make abortion illegal. In Minnesota, the right to abortion currently is part of the state's constitution. Groups and political leaders who oppose abortion are celebrating the decision and say they will work to make them illegal in this state. Minnesota's citizens Concern for Life spokesperson Paul Stark says his organization has waited for action on the federal level for a long time.

PAUL STARK: Those of us in the pro-life movement will be working to support laws that will protect everyone, protect the human rights of all human beings at every stage of development.

STEVEN JOHN: Governor Tim Walz, running for a second term, says abortion will remain legal under his administration. Republican candidate Scott Jensen says he will broaden adoption options. Clinics providing abortions in Minnesota and surrounding states are preparing for the fallout of today's Supreme Court decision. In Fargo, Red River Women's Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker says her facility is prepared to open a facility in Moorhead, across the border. Still, Kromenaker says getting the news this morning was shocking.

TAMMI KROMENAKER: We were watching the SCOTUSblog, and it came out. And then the phone rang, and I had to make an appointment with a patient. It's, like-- it's surreal.

STEVEN JOHN: Kromenaker says plans to relocate their clinic to Minnesota have been in the works for a while. North Dakota is among states that has a law on the books that would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 once the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, but it doesn't go into effect until after legislative action.

There's a chance for some showers and thunderstorms popping up today. Some could be severe. This is MPR News.

ANNOUNCER: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations. Other contributors include Fisher Investments Wealth Management, offering guidance on retirement income, social security, and estate planning. More at FisherInvestments.com. Clearly different money management. Investing in securities involves the risk of loss.

CATHY WURZER: 12:06. It's Minnesota Now, here on MPR News. I'm Cathy Wurzer. By now, you've heard that this morning, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. And that means there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion. The opinion by the Supreme Court will have a major impact in states that have already signaled their intention to restrict or ban abortion. To tell us about the impact on Minnesota, we're joined by MPR's Michelle Wiley. Hey, Michelle. Thanks for joining us.


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 is-- was a 1995 decision, Doe v. Gomez, in 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. You know, 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 kind of 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 sort of 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 Tim Walz says the ruling changes nothing in Minnesota as long as he is in office. When it comes to other politicians, they've sort of 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 or 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 you 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 So there's-- that is something that is ongoing now.

CATHY WURZER: You know, 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 where 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 Tammi 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 had 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 has been overturned.

CATHY WURZER: I know some people 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 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 to some degree. You know, 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: There was someone who-- 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 kind of throwing that at you, but I don't if you've heard that.

MICHELLE WILEY: I have, actually. That's definitely a factor. Some clinics-- workers at clinics 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.


CATHY WURZER: That was MPR News health reporter Michelle Wiley.


12:15 here on Minnesota Now. The high court heard arguments and then ruled on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case. And today's ruling on that case overturns the landmark Roe versus Wade abortion decision, and now that means Americans don't have a federally protected right to an abortion. We have a special show about this here over the noon hour. Joining us next is University of Minnesota law professor Jill Hasday.

She's the author of Family Law Reimagined and Intimate Lies and the Law. Welcome back, professor.

JILL HASDAY: Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: The opinion released this morning is, what, 200 pages? So it's not simple. Can you explain it for us in simple terms, what the argument in favor of overturning was?

JILL HASDAY: OK. So the first thing I want to say is the Minnesota Constitution protects the right to abortion. So abortion is still legal in Minnesota. The Supreme Court's decision was about, is there a-- does the federal constitution, the US Constitution, place any limits on a state's ability to restrict abortion? And the bottom line is the Supreme Court says no. The federal constitution doesn't help protect abortion access. The states can do whatever they want.

The basic theory that the majority had was when we're deciding what liberty the Constitution protects. We have to look back in time to the moment when the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 and ask, was there a constitutionally protected right to abortion then? If the answer is no, then the answer is now still no. I think there's at least two counterarguments to that argument.

First, abortion actually is not criminalized at common law before quickening, which is when the pregnant person can first detect fetal movement, which can be as late as 25 weeks. So actually historically, abortion is not a crime for most of the pregnancy. The second counterargument, which the dissent says at length is, of course, who decides what the law is in 1868? Well, they had one thing in common-- they were all men. So if that's the way you're going to reason about what the Constitution protects now, you're going to enshrine women's past inequality in the present.

CATHY WURZER: What did you think of the dissent from Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor?

JILL HASDAY: I think they did a number of striking things. So first, usually a dissent is written by one justice, and then the others sign it. All three of them signed it, which is a way of signaling both unity and the importance of the decision. And they really, in my view, addressed the central counterargument.

So one thing the majority says is, look, we don't know what effect abortion is going to have on women. How could we know? So we'll just ignore that issue-- which is striking because the court often says, we actually know exactly how the world works. But here, they say, we can't tell what getting rid of constitutional protections for abortion rights will do to women, so we'll just not consider that. The dissent leads with that, and it points out that eliminating federal constitutional protection for abortion means that in a state that is very anti-abortion, women can be forced to have-- forced to give birth, including with rape, including if the pregnancy is a result of incest, including if the child will only survive for a few days and have a painful life because of some fetal anomaly or something.

And that is just not a story the majority wants to tell what the actual practical impact is, and the descent foregrounds it. Also another dispute between the majority and the dissent is, well, what is the implications of this case for other cases? The majority, a number of times, says don't worry. This doesn't put precedents protecting same-sex marriage or right of access to birth control in play. Abortion is different because abortion is about fetal life.

But as the dissent points out, the majority's basic theory for overturning Roe, which is, we look back to 1868 and we ask, how would you have fared if you brought a suit then? If that's the question we're going to ask, there's no protections for right of access to birth control in 1868. There's certainly no protection for same-sex marriage. All those precedents are in play. And that's a point that the majority really wants to deny and that the dissent brings forward.

CATHY WURZER: So as precedents, could be in jeopardy.

JILL HASDAY: Who knows what the court will do? But there-- if those opinions are going to be overturned, they will all be citing Dobbs, which is the case from today because the logic of Dobbs is the same logic you would use to overturn those opinions.

CATHY WURZER: You know, the testimony of now Justice Gorsuch in his confirmation hearing, Justice Kavanaugh, Justice Coney Barrett, all said Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. They accepted the law of the land. Coney Barrett said Roe v. Wade clearly held that the Constitution protected a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. There's now this decision. What do you make of what we heard in confirmation hearings versus what's actually happening?

JILL HASDAY: Well, not to get too cynical, but I think people go to confirmation hearings to be confirmed. And abortion rights are very popular, so it would-- I don't know. Maybe. But I think it possibly would have been hard for them to be confirmed if they said that they were going to overturn Roe. That's just a very unpopular decision.

CATHY WURZER: So-- go ahead.

JILL HASDAY: I'm sorry.

CATHY WURZER: What does the decision then mean for the Supreme Court? Will it shake the public's trust?

JILL HASDAY: OK, so I teach 14th Amendment. I teach constitutional law more generally. And one lesson I've always taught the students is there's only so much institutional capital the court has, and there's cases where they save it and there's cases where they spend it. This is-- whatever you think of the opinion on the merits, it's just an enormous expenditure of institutional capital, the court overturning Roe in one fell swoop. Chief Justice Roberts, in his concurrence, he doesn't like Roe either, but he wants to do it gradually. So we'll see.

It's just-- it is an enormous expenditure of institutional capital, and it does make the court's legitimacy vulnerable because the court doesn't have an army to enforce its decisions. It doesn't have the power or the purse. All it really has is public confidence. And if you lose that, it can be hard to regain it.

CATHY WURZER: During the last presidential election, as you know, there was a lot of talk about creating a seat for a tenth justice on the bench. Do you think this decision will renew calls for that?

JILL HASDAY: Yes, yes. In fact, one of the reasons people thought that the court is more cautious about spending its institutional capital is when the court went against FDR during the Great Depression, he responded in the 1930s with the so-called Court Packing Plan. Let's expand the court and not coincidentally give me enough justice so I'll have a majority to do what I want.

The court actually ended up switching and started upholding FDR's new deal, and the Court Packing Plan then went away. But many people thought-- and the lesson you classically learned in law school is-- this teaches the court you don't want to be too far away from mainstream opinion because the price of it is there's all sorts of things Congress could do to discipline you. So I think there are certainly many people who would like to expand the court. That said, I think it's about the votes. Right now, there's not the votes to expand the Supreme Court. But we'll see.

CATHY WURZER: I'm glad you brought up that legal abortion is protected under the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in the case of Doe v. Gomez, and that ruling established a right to an abortion under the state constitution. And because it is in the state constitution, does it offer even stronger protections than those offered under federal law?

JILL HASDAY: Well, the Minnesota Constitution-- the Minnesota Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of what the Minnesota Constitution means. The US Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of what the US Constitution means. So the Minnesota constitutional judgment that the right of privacy in the Minnesota Constitution protects some access to abortion, that's unchanged. That's unchanged now. And it's also not a judgment that can be changed by legislative action.

There was this 1995 decision, Doe v. Gomez, recognizing it. And there really hasn't been subsequent litigation because when Roe was still good law, there wasn't the same kind of pressure on state constitutional law. Now that the federal constitution no longer provides any protection, I would anticipate that there's going to be significantly more litigation in the state constitutional arena about exactly what is the boundaries of that right.

Similarly, Minnesota statutory law-- the statutes the legislature passes-- currently protects the right to abortion. I think we've already seen the anti-abortion movement is obviously jubilant and presumably will be pushing for rolling that back. The other thing just related to that I want to say is another theme that's running through today's opinion-- so what are the implications? So one possibility is, what are the implications for same-sex marriage for access to contraception? But another theme is, well, what are the implications for abortion regulation itself?

Overturning Roe has never been the ultimate goal of the anti-abortion movement. Their ultimate goal is actually what they call "fetal personhood," meaning recognizing the idea that a fetus has constitutional rights. So even if a state wants to allow abortion, it can't. And there are hints in the Dobbs opinion along those lines, talking about the fetus as having a human right to life-- not quite saying it, but sort of on the edge of that. And that's going to be the new push.

So right now, it's up to each state. The federal constitution doesn't help access to abortion. But the next push is, could the federal constitution actually be used as a cudgel even against pro-choice states? And I think that's where the anti-abortion movement is going right now.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Interesting conversation, professor. Thank you so very much for your time.

JILL HASDAY: Thanks for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Jill Hasday is a law professor at the University of Minnesota.


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CATHY WURZER: You're listening to special coverage of today's Supreme Court decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade federal abortion ruling, that landmark ruling that occurred 50 years ago. Coming up, we will talk to Governor Tim Walz, his thoughts, and what's next on the state level. We'll also talk to a spokesperson for the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. That is a long-time organization in the state of Minnesota-- been around since, what, 1968 or so-- dedicated to fighting abortion rights.

We'll also talk to a person who is an abortion rights supporter. All that yet to come, here on Minnesota Now. We'll also get a look at the news with Steven John. Really quickly here, we are also following a difficult weather situation-- to put it that way-- in Northern and Central Minnesota this afternoon, especially in Northwestern Minnesota. A possible severe weather outbreak later today in Northwestern Minnesota-- large hail, damaging winds. Can't rule out a tornado or two, so we'll have details coming up.

It's 12:00-- well, it's actually-- I'll give you some current conditions before we throw it to Steven John here. It's raining right now. International Falls, 73 degrees. More heat and humidity will build back in throughout the day today around the region, so it's going to feel a little more sultry than it has. Mostly sunny skies right now in Appleton, where it's 84 degrees. 88 in Red Wing. 86 in downtown St. Paul. There's a thunderstorm in progress in Bemidji, where it's 66 degrees. In Fergus Falls, it's 81.

It's 12:28. Steven John, what's in the news?

STEVEN JOHN: President Joe Biden says he will do everything in his power to defend a woman's right to have an abortion in states where it will be banned. His pledge today followed a stunning but not unexpected US Supreme Court decision that overturn Roe and ends nearly 50 years of constitutionally-protected abortion. The ruling expected to result in abortion bans in about half of the state's was leaked in a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito more than a month ago.

A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling protects the right to abortion here. Congress is on the verge of approving a $13 billion bipartisan gun violence bill. House approval was expected sometime today following passage in the Senate yesterday. The election year vote comes just weeks after a gunman massacred 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas and a white man, allegedly motivated by racism, killed 10 Black grocery shoppers in Buffalo, New York.

A deluge of rain in parts of Central Minnesota flooded streets and closed roads overnight. Weather observers say more than four inches of rain fell in St. Cloud, where storm drains were unable to keep up with the downpour. The Morrison County Sheriff's Office reported US Highway 10 near Randall was completely flooded across both the Northbound and Southbound lanes.

Minnehaha Academy graduate Chet Holmgren was the second player picked in the NBA draft last night. He was chosen by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Timberwolves selected a player at number 19 and traded him to Memphis for the 22nd pick-- auburn seven-footer Walker Kessler. The Wolves also selected Duke forward Wendell Moore, Jr. The Minnesota Twins host the Colorado Rockies in a weekend series beginning tonight. Yesterday, the Twins beat Cleveland 1 to 0 to regain a share of the lead in the American League Central Division. The two teams meet in a five-game series next week.

In the Twin Cities, 86 degrees at 12:30.

CATHY WURZER: Thank you, Steven. This is Minnesota Now on MPR News. I'm Cathy Wurzer. We're in the midst of live coverage in the hours since the US Supreme Court handed down an expected ruling that overturns federal abortion protections. We're looking at today's ruling from a Minnesota perspective. Among lawmakers weighing in so far, Democratic US Senator Tina Smith issued a statement saying, quote, "This is a terrible day for America. This activist Supreme Court and the Republican senators and president who put them there have gutted that right because they think they know better than American women whose lives and stories they will never know."

Minnesota GOP Congressman Pete Stauber from the 8th District says, quoting now, "Today's historic ruling will save countless innocent lives. This ruling is a win for the sanctity of life. Additionally, this decision also returns decision making power back to elected officials and states, as intended." And you can expect to hear a lot more about abortion in the Minnesota governor's race this fall. On the line right now is DFL Governor Tim Walz. Thanks for joining us.

TIM WALZ: Yeah. Good afternoon, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: Abortion remains legal in Minnesota. We know that, with some exceptions. To our West, North and South Dakota have trigger laws that automatically outlaw abortion, and so Minnesota providers are expecting this surge in patients. And I'm curious, what can the state do if abortion facilities are overwhelmed by people coming from other states for services?

TIM WALZ: Yeah. First and foremost, Cathy, is I think people across the country, certainly here in Minnesota, were shocked and angered by this decision. It is certainly going you hurt women in a profound way. And as you heard your previous guest mention, it is going to be up to the states. And you're right, these trigger laws went into effect that now make life very difficult for women in our surrounding states.

As long as we're governor in Minnesota, we're going to continue to assist facilities to make sure that we have access to reproductive rights, health care, and abortion. We can make sure that we're listening to them, because I think that's exactly right. This is going to do nothing to reduce abortions. The very people who won't fund our school programs won't fund other things. We understand that that's the real way that we get at unplanned pregnancies, but allowing women that fundamental right to make the decision.

So the state of Minnesota stands ready. We're prepared. We have great partners in this state, and we want to continue to make sure that that very fundamental and most personal of all choices that women have is maintained.

CATHY WURZER: Republicans, governor, think they can make big gains this fall in the State House and Senate. Do you expect the chipping away of abortion rights in the state, even though it's protected in the state constitution?

TIM WALZ: I don't expect it. It will absolutely happen. They've said so. My opponent has said that abortion will become illegal in all circumstances, including rape and incest. I expect them to do exactly what they said they're going to do. And just to be clear, I think, again, your previous guest professor was right about Minnesota constitutional law. But governors appoint Supreme Court judges here in Minnesota, and that, right now, is the firewall. The governor is the firewall between this horrific decision.

And again, it's not speculation because Justice Thomas was very clear about this. Next, it will be access to contraceptives. It will be followed by the choice of who you marry, and they will continue to chip away at these rights. So yes, I absolutely-- they have made it absolutely clear that it is a day one decision. And if anything should motivate people to protect these most fundamental privacy and personal decisions, it is going to be this November.

CATHY WURZER: You mentioned your opponent. That would be Republican Scott Jensen, who was out with a statement this morning saying, among other things, that you support up-to-the-moment birth abortions. I'll let you comment on that.

TIM WALZ: Well, a specious relationship with the truth from my opponent, from COVID to elections, is one thing. Just to be very clear-- I respect the right of women to work with their health care providers for the best interest of them, their health, and what they need to do. These-- twisting away from the very clear fact that Scott Jensen will make abortion illegal in Minnesota in all circumstances, through his own words. It's an outrageous position. It is grossly out of step with where Minnesotans are at, and it is hugely dangerous to the health of women across this state.

So we support women. We support our health care providers who know what needs to be done. We support where the Supreme Court was for 50 years. Minnesota has one of the lowest teen birth rates in the country. Abortions are at a historic low because we take in holistic approaches to women's reproductive health care because we allow them and their providers to do it. So this does nothing to reduce any of those things. This is just a backwards-looking, dangerous position.

CATHY WURZER: Does the ruling change the complexion of this election? Will your messaging change, if at all?

TIM WALZ: Well, it's been mine all along. The choice here is a radical choice. Again, election denial, COVID denial, firearms in every hand in every place, unregulated in any way, and now the idea that women have less freedoms than guns, if you will. Yes, this will change the complexity of that because Minnesotans know we're an island of sanity and an island of decency in a pretty tough place, especially for women. So I do believe that this ruling, which many of us feared but now the reality is upon it, is only the first step in this march towards just this extreme ideology, a theological Supreme Court that is representing a minority of where Americans are at, and certainly a minority of Minnesota voters.

So yes, they will now get to spend the next four months answering for these radical policies. And this is not a theoretical move now. It is real. Abortions are now illegal in our surrounding states because of trigger laws. Next steps, they're talking about making it illegal for women to travel to states like Minnesota. So I guess if you're a woman in South Dakota and you want to come to Minnesota to shop, to visit a relative or whatever, I guess pregnancy test. I'm not sure. They need to answer these questions, and over the next four months, I will assure Minnesotans that they will answer them because this is the firewall.

CATHY WURZER: For decades, though-- as you know, governor-- every January, there's been the March for Life to mark Roe's anniversary. Those who are anti-abortion have worked very hard to elect anti-abortion lawmakers. They've kept the pressure up on to pass state restrictions. There's been a lot of work done. And I'm wondering, why haven't Democrats done a better job of protecting a federal right to abortion?

TIM WALZ: Because we respect laws. We expected that folks like Justice Gorsuch would keep their word, and Kavanaugh, as they perjured themselves in front of a Senate committee hearing when asked about what they would do on this. We respect the rule of law. And I think as it was a constitutionally-protected right, we expected people to follow that. And this totally arbitrary decision made by 6 conservative justices that were put in is it.

But I can tell you what-- they have awoken the sleeping giant. There is the majority of Americans stand with women's rights. They stand with the right to privacy. They stand with the idea that your own health care decisions should be there. And this will-- there will be a backlash. There will be a backlash, and it will be good people standing up to say this doesn't accomplish what you think it's going to accomplish. It simply criminalizes women for making health care decisions.

CATHY WURZER: I know you've been active with other states' governors to codify into federal law the right to an abortion. How is that work going at the national level?

TIM WALZ: Yeah. Well, we'll need to have that majority that's there. We know that now I think you're going to see people. It's time to take a stand on where you stand. Do you stand with women? Do you stand with the right to privacy? Do you stand making sure that women are protected to be able to make these decisions? And so we'll continue to push that.

I think right now, I'm focused on this. The true firewall for this, of Minnesota becoming Texas, Florida South Dakota, is in this governor's race. And that's why I will put all of my effort into making sure that we get the message out and that Minnesotans know what's at stake.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Governor, thank you for your time.

TIM WALZ: Thank you, Cathy. Goodbye.

CATHY WURZER: I've been talking to Governor Tim Walz, here on Minnesota Now.


While there are many angry and unbelieving abortion rights supporters over today's Supreme Court decision, there are also those who are against abortion who are celebrating. Many anti-abortion activists say they've been praying for this day for years. Joining us right now is Paul Stark. He's with the group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. That's an organization that's been working against legal abortion since 1968 in Minnesota. Paul, thanks for joining us.

PAUL STARK: Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Where were you when you heard the news?

PAUL STARK: I was here in my office, checking the Supreme Court website for the latest opinions.

CATHY WURZER: What immediately went through your mind?

PAUL STARK: I think it was relief. I'm just so happy. It's a historic decision. The Supreme Court is allowing the American people to have a say about abortion laws again, and that's a monumental victory for unborn children and their mothers. It's a big step for inclusion and equality under the law. Roe v. Wade has caused so much harm over the last 50 years. More than 63 million lives have been lost, including almost 700,000 here in Minnesota.

And many women and men and families have been wounded as well. So today, we finally move forward. We've moved away from Roe v. Wade and all that harm that it has caused.

CATHY WURZER: What does this ruling mean for your work at MCCL?

PAUL STARK: Well nothing will immediately change here in Minnesota because of a state court ruling, Doe v. Gomez. But those of us in the pro-life movement, we are working to love both mother and child. We think that all human beings have human rights, no matter their age or their size. And pregnant women, certainly, deserve love and support in the midst of the difficult circumstances they often face. So those of us in the pro-life movement both continue to reach out to women and support them.

And at MCCL, we'll work to advance legislation to increase protection for the unborn and support for their mothers as much as we can in this political environment.

CATHY WURZER: What does that mean exactly? What are you looking for?

PAUL STARK: Well, recently, we supported legislation to deal with the growing problem of mail-order abortions, where chemical abortion drugs are being sent to women through the mail without an in-person medical evaluation beforehand, which poses certain dangers to women. And we've introduced legislation to deal with that. And we've also, in recent years, worked to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and stop late abortions on pain-capable unborn children.

These are all common sense and reasonable measures that would increase protection for the unborn and help empower their mothers as well. But there are obstacles to these efforts that we're pursuing. You just had Governor Walz, and he's pledge to oppose any limits on abortion, even limits late in pregnancy or limits on taxpayer funding of abortion. And we think that's an extreme view and we'll continue to work to increase protection as much as we can.

CATHY WURZER: We've been talking to those who have worked on the other side, those who are in favor of abortion rights, and they say making abortion illegal won't stop abortions from happening. People are resilient. They're going to find a way. It'll only make safe abortions from happening. What's your response to that?

PAUL STARK: Yeah. Well, first of all, as I said here in Minnesota, nothing is changing immediately. Abortion is still legal here for any reason, unfortunately. However, in response to your-- in response to your question, we do know that laws do affect the incidence of abortion. It's not that laws can stop all abortions, just like laws can't stop all other acts that they might prescribe.

But laws do make a difference in different ways, and we've seen that in other countries. We've seen that here in America. We've seen that even with incremental, modest protective laws like informed consent laws, like we have a Woman's Right to Know law here in Minnesota. We've seen that these laws do make a difference in terms of reducing the incidence of abortion and helping women and protecting unborn children.

CATHY WURZER: You mentioned that this was a win for inclusion and equality under the law, when we began our conversation. And I'm wondering-- we were talking to a law professor a few minutes ago here on the program-- do you see, moving forward, the anti-abortion movement working to take this federal ruling-- Is the ultimate goal, if you're talking about inclusion and equality, fetal personhood?

PAUL STARK: Well, we do think that all human beings are persons and deserve to be treated accordingly, and we're just working to advance that goal of protecting everyone.

CATHY WURZER: So you'd try to codify that?

PAUL STARK: We will work to-- I mean, certainly, we'll work in whatever ways make sense to advance protection for everyone and see that protection established under the law.

CATHY WURZER: I'm sure you know about the poll earlier this month, from Minnpost.com, a news website. 67% of Minnesotans asked oppose a ban on abortions in all circumstances-- almost 70% of voters, and 40% were Republicans. While the Supreme Court ruling is a win for those against abortion, do you face an uphill climb with the public? I'm wondering. What do you think about that?

PAUL STARK: Well, the status quo is abortion for any reason. And most Minnesotans and most Americans don't support that. Most of us oppose abortion after the first trimester, for example. Most of us oppose abortion for many different reasons and support abortion in more narrow circumstances, is what polls tend to show. But that's not what we have now. That's not what Governor Walz supports. That's not what many of our political leaders support.

And those of us in the pro-life movement are going to move forward, and I think we have a lot of public sentiment on our side in terms of protecting unborn children late in pregnancy and stopping taxpayer funding of abortion. These are things where there is actually a lot of common ground, and we're going to be working to move forward with those.

CATHY WURZER: Tell me about your plans for the upcoming few months here when it comes to the election, as abortion is going to become a front and center issue.

PAUL STARK: Absolutely. Certainly, the governor's race is a big deal. Legislation, one way or the other, it can't really go anywhere without a governor's signature. So the governor-- the stakes in the governor's race are high, as well as all the state legislative races. We need lawmakers in the House and Senate, and a governor who will support increased protection for the unborn, who will support these reasonable and common sense measures, like ending abortion on pain-capable unborn children, or ending the taxpayer funding of abortion. We need legislators who will advance those types of legislation.

CATHY WURZER: Final question here for you, with-- I'm sure you're doing all kinds of different interviews here today. Do you plan on celebrating in some way, shape, or form?

PAUL STARK: I think we're all celebrating. It is a joyous day because the Supreme Court has reversed course on an egregious error. It was a constitutional error. It was an injustice to exclude a whole class of innocent human beings from the protection of the law. And the Supreme Court is no longer imposing that extreme policy, and that is something to celebrate, absolutely

CATHY WURZER: Paul Stark, I appreciate your time.

PAUL STARK: Thank you very much.

CATHY WURZER: Paul Stark's with the group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.


Welcome back to special coverage, here on MPR News, of today's landmark ruling on abortion in the US. I'm Cathy Wurzer. The Supreme Court handed down an expected ruling that erases constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years. There is a large crowd gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington right now-- joyous individuals who say they've prayed for years for this ruling, while others are distraught and angry.

The ruling comes more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, which telegraphed that the court was prepared to take this action. Because of the ruling, it's now up to individual states to decide if abortion is legal within their boundaries. Now, a reminder that in Minnesota abortion is legal, with some exceptions. We have a lot of reaction to this decision.

Shayla Walker is with us right now. Shayla is with a group called Our Justice that connects women to safe abortions in Minnesota. Shayla, welcome to Minnesota Now.

SHAYLA WALKER: Hi. Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Where were you when you heard the news?

SHAYLA WALKER: At work. I was at home, in St. Paul, doing work. So yeah, that's where I was. We were preparing for this. We've been preparing for this, not just from the leak, but even before the leak. Back in 2013, when HB2 came down and impacted Texans, we knew that trap laws across the nation were going to make it nearly impossible for people to access care.

And so this is not surprising. Even the leak wasn't surprising to us, the people who have been working in repro for a long time. We know that this was coming down sooner or later.

CATHY WURZER: You see you've been preparing. How have you been preparing?

SHAYLA WALKER: Yeah. So Our Justice, we are an abortion fund. We serve people who come to Minnesota and Minnesotans who have to travel outside of Minnesota to access their abortion care. We prepared by making sure all of our base knew, letting our donors know what was up with the courts. We'd be preparing by starting a litigation back in 2019 to remove all the barriers that we have in Minnesota.

So even though the state constitution protects abortion in Minnesota, there are 14 laws that make it hard to access. One of them is a 24-hour waiting period law. Another one is judicial bypass, where minors have to go and meet up with a judge who will tell them whether or not they are smart enough or wise enough to make a decision about their bodies. And so yeah, we've been preparing by suing the state of Minnesota, by getting our volunteers in gear by updating our technology that we have on the fund.

CATHY WURZER: You know, you've been with women personally who are going through the procedure. And I know that there can be a lot of shame with it. How do you think this decision will affect those women and how they feel about getting the procedure?

SHAYLA WALKER: You know, I think people who want to get an abortion will get an abortion. Folks say, oh, this law is going to stop them. No. People are resilient. There are a lot of ways to get abortions. I think the shame and stigma is something that is really trying to be pushed by this narrative, when we know that 3/4 of Americans support abortion access. We know that 77% of Minnesotans believe that people should have access to safe and-- [COUGHS] excuse me-- safe and accessible abortion care.

And it's just not women. It's people across the gender spectrum-- non-binary people, trans people, people who are the most marginalized, are going to be impacted the most by this. So yeah, for some people, there's a lot of shame. But for some people, there is a lot of pride and a lot of hope when it comes to getting an abortion because they know that they are in control of their bodies. They have bodily sovereignty. They can self-determine for themselves and not have the law or some other entity make those decisions on their behalf.

We just celebrated Juneteenth. Juneteenth is supposed to be about the celebration of Black bodies being sovereign. Five days later, we have the courts telling us that our bodies aren't sovereign, that nobody's body is sovereign, that the court makes these decisions about our bodies. So it's not lost on me that these things happen, like, so close to each other.

CATHY WURZER: I'm wondering, you know, you mentioned you've got donors. Do you think that your donations, your base, will increase in order to help women and others who are seeking abortions?

SHAYLA WALKER: Yeah. Again, we serve all people, not just women.


SHAYLA WALKER: Like, regardless of your gender, if you have a womb, if you are pregnant, you can get an abortion. You don't have to be a woman. But yes, I believe that people will continue to donate. What really carried us over the pandemic is our individual donors.

Yeah, we have some large donors here and there. Yes, we have a little bit of foundation money here and there. But the reason that we were able to stay afloat was because of our monthly donors who continue to give every month, even if it was, like, $10 a month or $50 a month, they were consistent. I know I counted on them for during the pandemic, and I know I'm going to be able to count on them going forward.

If you would like to become a monthly donor to Our Justice, help folks access abortion care and hotels when they travel here, we invite you to do so.

CATHY WURZER: You know, Shayla, we were talking to Planned Parenthood, and they are expecting their services to increase-- the demand to increase from those who are seeking abortions from other states. Do you think that abortion services will expand in Minnesota because of that demand?

SHAYLA WALKER: I hope so. I hope that Planned Parenthood will scale up and make sure that they have enough staff in all of their locations so that people can access care. Right now, only one Planned Parenthood in Minnesota is offering surgical abortions, no other ones. Just one. And the rest of the surgical abortions are being performed by independent abortion providers.

Robbinsdale Clinic is offering surgical abortions. Whole Woman's Health is offering surgical abortion. We Health is offering surgical abortion. So we need Planned Parenthood to step up and to start hiring folks and staffing up their people in their uptown location, their Rochester location, their Brooklyn Park location, and start offering surgical abortions there as well.

CATHY WURZER: What do you expect may happen-- of course, it's hard to know what's going to happen during the election coming up here in the fall. But in the Minnesota legislature, you mentioned, there are several laws on the books, that are exceptions to the abortion law here in Minnesota, that have restrictions on abortion. What do you expect, I guess, going into the next session next year?

SHAYLA WALKER: We have a reproductive justice caucus who's always been down for us, who've been working on our behalf. Unrestricted Minnesota, shout out to them. They are a campaign and coalition to uplift the work that we're doing around our lawsuit. And from there was birthed the reproductive justice caucus. So hopefully, they'll be able to do something-- if not pass the Pro Act, pass the Patient's Right to Know Act. Patient's Right to Know is the one that will repeal the 24-hour waiting period.

So I hope they do all that they can do, you know? But while they're doing their thing, we're going to be doing our thing on the ground and making sure that people have access to care by paying for their procedures, by paying for their hotels, giving them referrals to abortion doulas and aftercare kits and transportation. We're going to be doing all those things.

CATHY WURZER: What will you be doing today, and really in the near future here?

SHAYLA WALKER: We're going to be fundraising money because at the end of the day, people need money. They need money to pay for their hotels. They need money to pay for their transportation to and from their appointments. They need money to pay for their abortion care. So what we do best is sound the alarm, raise money, and redistribute it. I would say that we are the OGs of mutual aid. Our Justice have been mutual aiding before Roe v. Wade, and I've said it before, we'll be doing it after.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Shayla Walker, thank you for your time.

SHAYLA WALKER: Yeah. Thank you, I appreciate it.

CATHY WURZER: Shayla Walker is the executive director of Our Justice, an organization that provides money and other support to people seeking abortions in Minnesota.


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CATHY WURZER: The head of Planned Parenthood of the North Central states, Sarah Stace, is speaking to the media right now. We'll pass along what she has to say later today on All Things Considered. Our friends at Wisconsin Public Radio talked to Tanya Atkinson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

And Atkinson says, "When Roe versus Wade was struck down this morning, we had patients in our waiting rooms. We had friends, families, neighbors, people who had driven for hours and hours, in some cases. This is a dangerous decision. It's a chilling decision. It's going to have devastating consequences for 1.3 million women across the state of Wisconsin of reproductive age and for millions across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds sometimes thousands of miles for care. When the ruling came down, we had to go out to those individuals who were in our waiting room and say we're so sorry. That decision that you made for yourself, for your family, for your future is no longer your decision to make here in the state of Wisconsin."

By the way, we've been getting some questions into the newsroom about the decision. One of them, do Indigenous tribes have sovereignty to make their own laws regarding abortion, or does the Supreme Court decision extend to them? Could they be a safe haven to access for abortion in all states? It's a question we'll try to answer. As a matter of fact, we're going to pass that along to Michelle Wiley, our health care reporter here at MPR.

You'll hear her again later this afternoon on All Things Considered. We'll also, of course, have coverage from National Public Radio, coming up here with our friends from 1A. And we'll also, of course, hear from the BBC, I'm sure. They're also covering this story as well. Glad you been with us here for this past hour. I'm sorry, it's Science Friday. I can never remember what's on the air here on MPR.

At any rate, we will hear more from the BBC on this, I'm sure, and All Things Considered. Quickly, before we go here, current conditions-- it's still raining in International Falls. As a matter of fact, there's a line of some pretty hefty storms. Severe storm warning right now for South Central, Red Lake County, Southeastern Polk County, until 1:15 this afternoon. Be aware of the weather. Thanks for listening.


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CATHY WURZER: Mostly sunny skies. 86 degrees, it's humid out. There this is MPR News, 91.1, KNOW Minneapolis, St. Paul. The rest of the day? Well, we could see a little bit of rain here, late this afternoon. Certainly, we're going to see some rain overnight. Today's high is going to top out at around 93 degrees. It's 1 o'clock.

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