For the record: Where do Walz and Ellison stand on abortion?


This is the common message of Minnesota Republicans following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversed Roe v. Wade. It states that they, not we are out of the mainstream of what state and national voters think about the issue.

Although polling shows strong support for abortion access especially in the first three months, the majority of Republican candidates support banning the procedure. This is sometimes even if it is the result or incest or the life or health of the mother. The GOP candidates for attorney general and governor oppose abortion. They wouldn’t have received the endorsement of the party otherwise.

However, statements made after the federal court ruling, while supporting the court action, tried to turn the issue against Democrats.

“Minnesota values are not ‘up-to-the-moment-of-birth’ abortions as Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan support,” said Republican-endorsed candidate for governor Scott Jensen.

“Though Keith Ellison supports taxpayer-funded abortion at any stage of pregnancy or for any reason,” stated Jim Schultz, GOP endorser for attorney general.

Scott Jensen

State GOP Chair David Hann stated that Tim Walz and Minnesota Democrats support taxpayer funded abortion on-demand until the moment of birth. “Minnesotans do not support these extreme policies.”

Is this true? Are Democrats Ellison and Walz for abortion at “anytime for any reason?”

The first is the question about taxpayer-funded abortion. In 1995 Doe case, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that medical assistance must be paid for abortions performed for medical reasons. Most Democrats support this provision in their endorsement for legal access to abortion. The standard for medical reasons is different from that for the mother’s life and health and it has been taken to mean that most abortions require funding by the state for medical assistance.

Two bills that blocked state funding were passed by GOP-controlled legislatures, but both were vetoed later on by the Gov. Mark Dayton

The Annual Report on Abortions in Minnesota span style=”font weight: 400 stated that 4,602 of the 9,127 abortions performed in Minnesota in 2021 were covered by public assistance programs. The rest were covered by private insurance (2.040) and the patient (2.474). 11 cases are not known about the funding source.

Do the DFL incumbents favor third trimester abortions “for any reason?” They say not, and neither have their political adversaries produced evidence to support that.

REUTERS/Eric Miller
Attorney General Keith Ellison

Walz and Ellison support late-term abortions. These are performed after the fetus has been deemed capable of survival outside the womb. This is done for medical reasons only. These could be for the life and health of the mother, or because the fetus is suffering from abnormalities that are incompatible with the life. Minnesota has a very low rate of abortions within the last three months.

The state reported only one abortion on a woman between 25 and 30 week gestation in 2021. MDH did not report any abortions on women beyond the 30th week. Minnesota had 93.6 percent of abortions performed at 15 weeks gestation.

Joel Hanson was the spokesperson for the Jensen campaign and tried to back Jensen’s claims by saying that Walz had described himself as a strong pro-choice congressman and governor. Even joking at 2018 DFL convention, that “my record has been so pro-choice that Nancy Pelosi asked if it should be toned down.” Walz also stated that he would not support any further restrictions on abortion in Minnesota.

Hanson pointed out that Walz voted “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”, a 2018 GOP bill that required medical measures to be taken if a baby is born alive after a late-term abortion. He was one of six Democrats who voted in support. Walz, the 1st Congressional District congressman at the time, immediately sent a notice and tweeted on his congressional account to the House speaker stating that his yes vote had been a mistake and that he meant to vote no.

Minnesota law currently requires that all abortions, except in the first trimester, be performed in hospitals.

MinnPost photo taken by Peter Callaghan
Jim Schultz

Christine Snell, Schultz’s campaign spokesperson, stated that she did not have the time to “delve into our oppo books right now” but pointed out Ellison votes in Congress against late-term abortion bans. Schultz claims that this is “for no reason” but it isn’t.

Advocates from Unrestrict Minnesota have challenged Minnesota’s restrictions on abortion access. This includes a 24-hour waiting time for abortions. Ellison is the attorney general and is fighting the lawsuit. Walz stated through a spokesperson for the campaign that he cannot comment on this case as he is a named defendant.

Walz is not in denial of his pro-abortion rights. Walz was angry when asked about the Jensen campaign’s claim that he supports abortion for any reason.

Walz stated, “No, I do not respect where (the law) is written now.” “I’ve been in this office, I have done a thousand (press conferences), as both a governor and a member of congress. That has never been said. This is yet another lie from someone who lied on the election, lied regarding COVID, hell, lied concerning a cabin I supposedly own… One putting into this discussion is so disrespectful for providers, women, and what the debate is all about, but I expect nothing less.

Walz said that he respects the law as it is now and as defined by medical providers. Walz continued, “There is no way that I have ever said so again and I would like to ask you all to do the research to see how many there are.”

Question about ‘viability’ standard

However, just because he supports the state law in its current form isn’t enough to make it definitive. State law sets a standard for preventing abortions when a foetus is viable, except in cases where a mother’s health or life is at risk. This section of state law was struck down by Hodgson v. Lawson, a 1976 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This case declared unconstitutional both the viability standard and a law that allowed abortion to be performed under circumstances that would reasonably ensure the survival of the fetus span>

Minnesota abortion providers still act as if the stricken statutes have not been repealed. Many abortion rights organizations also list Minnesota’s viability standard as in force. According to the Guttmacher Institute website, an abortion can be performed before or after viability if the patient’s health or life is at risk.

Unrestrict Minnesota’s lawsuit does not challenge this viability standard. Jess Braverman (an attorney representing Gender Justice) said that it was not included in the lawsuit because the provision was enjoined in 1976 by the federal courts and isn’t enforceable.

Doe span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>, The 1995 case of the supreme court that found abortion rights under the privacy provisions of the state constitution and used viability to determine when state restrictions could be applied, was Doe Doe. However, it did not impose this standard and the Legislature didn’t adopt one after Doe.

The PRO’ Act

Walz supports what is known in the Legislature by the PRO Act. This Act aims to codify access abortion and contraceptives into law to provide a buffer should Doe v. Gomez fail.

Faisa Ahmed, the Ellison campaign spokesperson, stated that Ellison supports and will defend Doe in Gomez. Ahmed also said that Ellison supports and will continue to support the legal precedent in Doe. He also supports the Planned Parenthood casey which “ensured the privacy to obtain an abortion but also established viability as a threshold of state interest.” Ellison supports the PRO Act.

Ahmed stated that Ellison believes women can make their own reproductive decisions, while his opponents don’t.” That’s the problem. “That’s the issue. Opponents will not be allowed to muddy waters by fabricating false stories span>

Rep. Kelly Morrison

The PRO Act bill was sponsored by Kelly Morrison, a state representative from Deephaven. Although the legislation failed to pass in the DFL-controlled House, it is a top Democratic priority. It states that every person has the “fundamental rights” to have an abortion.

span style=”font weight: 400 It’s kinda a double layer protection,” she stated. It also states that it applies to all state laws, regulations, and policies, which could mean it could be read as superseding any viability standards should it be passed into law.

However, Morrison dismissed that claim, saying that the measure was “silent” on the state’s enjoined viality standard limiting late-term abortions. It does not seek to alter or remove it.

Morrison, a physician did introduce a separate bill to unwind certain abortion restrictions. Morrison claimed that the requirement for a script detailing the medical risks of abortion was medically inaccurate. However, the bill does not reference the viability standards.

Advocates for abortion access consider Minnesota to be quite restrictive. Many states have no time limit on when an abortion can be performed, even Colorado which is politically similar.

Morrison stated that she believes reproductive health care must be tailored to each person’s circumstances. Morrison said that the majority of abortions occur in the first trimester. The ones following are often in “horrifically terrible situations”, where the mother is in imminent danger or the pregnancy has been terminated.

Morrison stated that abortion up to the point of birth is “something just doesn’t happen”. He said Democrats are more focused on ensuring abortion remains legal than changing viability standards. Colorado reported 60 abortions in 2021 after an estimated 24-week gestation. This was 0.5% of the 11,580 total reported abortions. Nearly 75% of the abortions were performed within 8 weeks.

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