This is part five of a five-part series from MPR News examining the state of abortion in Minnesota one year after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Saturday marks one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, striking down a constitutional right to abortion. In Minnesota, DFL lawmakers reacted by using their new majority power in the Legislature and the support of DFL Gov. Tim Walz to significantly expand abortion rights beyond any state in the Midwest.
In September, a MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 poll found 52 percent of Minnesotans opposed Roe being overturned, while 40 percent agreed with it. Eight percent were unsure. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats supported overturning Roe.
MPR News put calls out on social media asking Minnesotans to reflect on the abortion issue and how their views might have shifted one year after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Here’s what some had to say.
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Allison Vandenack, 31, St. Paul
Vandenack said she is feeling similar to how she did the day Roe was overturned — powerless. In her opinion, abortion care is misunderstood and not working toward “the true health and safety of women.”
Even though Minnesota has increased abortion protections in the last year, she is concerned for people seeking abortions nationwide and what they may have to endure.
“I don’t think they [people against abortion] understand the consequences … for me personally, I have had struggles with fertility. I have had three miscarriages, one that required an abortion procedure of a D&C due to hemorrhaging. In these states where the bans are happening, like Wisconsin, I don’t feel like if I had that same situation repeat and I was living there, that I would get the care I need,” she said.
Trisha Melby Willette, 42, St. Paul
In the last year, the DFL has passed several new abortion laws in Minnesota as restrictions tightened in neighboring states and across the country. Willette said she continues to feel grateful for Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature’s DFL majorities.
“I am grateful to Gov. Walz and the Democrats for understanding that the women and girls of Minnesota have autonomy over our bodies and the right to design our future the way we see fit,” she said.
Wayne Pulford, 65, Proctor
“After hearing all of the news reporters afterwards, it kind of clarified the issue for me … it’s health care for people, for women and we need to support it,” said Pulford, who will be ordained this fall as an Episcopal minister. “It is a health service.”
In the weeks following the end of Roe, he said he got a tattoo in support of abortion rights with the money going to WE Health Clinic in Duluth, one of only two clinics across northern Minnesota that provide abortions.
Pete Coyan, Shoreview
Coyan says when Roe v. Wade was overturned, it made him feel like he had “won a battle.”
“We just have to keep persevering and we rely on the grace of God and the Holy Spirit,” he said. “We pray that there comes a time where abortion may be fully available, but not one woman will choose to have one. And that would be the true victory of God.”
Noella Merchant, 26, Mounds View
Merchant often finds herself telling friends and family who don’t live in Minnesota to visit if they ever need something. That something … often being abortion care. She says she is prepared to be there for others who may need to seek care.
One of the laws Minnesota passed allows people seeking abortions to come to Minnesota for care and not face prosecution from their home state if it is illegal there.
Merchant found out in January that she was pregnant. It was exciting but everytime she has gone to the doctor, there is a tinge of worry.
“So far, the baby is healthy and doing well and I would be completely devastated if we had to terminate the pregnancy but knowing that we live in Minnesota and that it would be an option, it’s a huge relief … a lot of other places don’t have that,” she said.
Leah Granstrom, 22, Andover
Granstrom has lived in Minnesota all of her life, and she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. She attended college here and is now in graduate school. She’s thought about taking jobs in other states, but lack of abortion protections makes her hesitant.
“I’m grateful to be here, but I am also afraid for people in other states who don’t have the rights and privileges that I do,” she said.
Reggie Bauer, 26, Inver Grove Heights
When Roe v. Wade was overturned, Bauer decided it was time to act.
He scheduled a vasectomy immediately, “just in case I find myself in a state that doesn’t protect other people’s autonomy.” A year later, “I am so glad I got it,” he said.
According to the National Institutes of Health, there was a 35 percent increase in vasectomy consultations after Roe was overturned.
Emily Seeb, 35, Forest Lake
Seeb, who has a 3-year-old daughter, said she is “horrified” when she thinks of her daughter growing up with fewer rights.
And she said she felt betrayed by Democratic leaders who did not codify Roe into U.S. law when they had the majority.
“They knew it was a possibility, and they didn’t have a plan. It’s not even really being talked about anymore … I just think it is a very scary precedent for what it means for the future, and for the rights of women,” Seeb said.
Thomas Wilkin, 23, St. Paul
Wilkin feels like the “unborn have never been less protected” in Minnesota.
“Abortion kills a human being, there is so much hope and compassion available to women who are willing to choose life for their children,” he said.
Kateri Ruiz, 49, Eden Prairie
For Rultz, she said the overturning Roe v. Wade made her lose confidence in the judicial system. She has four daughters, and it has made her reconsider which colleges they will attend, and her own employment and retirement.
“We don’t want our kids who are entering the workforce soon to take jobs in states where their rights will be denied and their health and safety compromised … When we start to see the erosion of rights, we usually see signs of it against our most marginalized groups of people,” she said. “And that is exactly what we are seeing across the country.”
Terry Ratajczyk, 80, Shoreview
Ratajczyk often stands outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul handing out brochures against abortion. He feels like “it’s the least he can do.” He often holds a rosary and prays.
“I don’t come out and blurt anything, you know, that would make someone feel bad in my point of view,” he said.
Felipe Escudero, 26, St. Paul
Escudero shared that he is thinking of his cousins, who he says have “less federal protections” than their parents had. His mother was born right after Roe v. Wade was decided and 50 years later, he’s worried America is moving backwards.
“If I have a daughter … she will have less rights than my mother. It is just absolutely mind boggling, it is completely regressive. There’s a difference between protecting the status quo and going backwards … it just doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
Hannah Bassewitz, 25, Minneapolis
Bassewitz moved back to Minnesota during the pandemic. They said they love living here, but since Roe v. Wade was overturned, that it feels like “an island of health care security” they cannot leave.
“I was relieved when Walz put abortion protections into law at the start of the year but I am still worried that future laws or different leadership could change things and honestly, I feel like a lot of my plans for the future have been altered pretty significantly because of this,” they said.