State judge strikes down many of Minnesota's abortion restrictions

A person holds a sign in support of abortion
Abortion activists counter-protested against the Pro-Life Action Ministries rally in St. Paul on June 24. A state judge on Monday ruled that Minnesota's existing restrictions on abortion violate the state's right to privacy.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News file

Updated: 3:22 p.m.

A Ramsey County judge on Monday ruled that many of the state’s existing restrictions on abortion violate Minnesota’s constitution.

Judge Thomas Gilligan ordered state officials to stop enforcing the restrictions including the two-parent notification law for minors, a 24-hour waiting period, a requirement that only physicians perform abortions, as well as a requirement that abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital.

He also struck down felony penalties for abortion providers who run afoul of state regulations, as well as laws that require providers to inform pregnant women of the procedure's "particular medical risks."

Gilligan wrote that the laws "violate the right to privacy because they infringe upon the fundamental right under the Minnesota Constitution to access abortion care."

MPR News health reporter Michelle Wiley provides more on All Things Considered

He let stand laws that require abortion providers to report certain statistics to the Health Department.

Supporters of legalized abortion praised the judge’s decision Monday while opponents attacked it, with some insisting Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison appeal the decision and defend existing state law.

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Ellison acknowledged he has a duty to defend Minnesota's laws, although he disagreed with the state’s abortion restrictions.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” he said of a formal response or appeal by his office to the judge’s ruling, adding that he needed to read through the decision. He has 60 days to decide on an appeal.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, called the ruling a “a great victory that gets government and politicians out of the exam room.”

“For far too long, politicians and judges have been controlling our bodies with medically unnecessary laws,” she added, noting the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade and ended a national constitutional right to abortion.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life called the Ramsey County judge’s decision an “extreme ruling” against “commonsense measures that support and empower pregnant women. It blocks Minnesotans from enacting reasonable protections for unborn children and their mothers. The decision must be appealed."

The suit was brought by a physician and a nurse-midwife, both of whom are unnamed in the lawsuit, as well as the abortion rights group Our Justice.

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