May 4, 2022 - Politics

How the SCOTUS leak is playing out in Minnesota

Photo illustration of abortion protest signs representing opposing sides in front of the US Supreme Court
Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Minnesota abortion providers are bracing for a surge in demand if the U.S. Supreme Court's leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade holds.

The big picture: Abortion will remain legal in the state for the immediate future if Roe is overturned, due to a 1995 state Supreme Court decision. But it would immediately become illegal in two of our neighbors — North Dakota and South Dakota.

  • Those so-called trigger laws, combined with possible restrictions in other Midwest states, would likely force more people seeking abortions to travel to the state for the procedure.

What they're saying: Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, told reporters Tuesday that patient volume here could increase 10% to 25%, depending on what happens.

  • "As states see a surge, we may actually be at a point where we're not going to be able to meet all the demand in the short term," she said.

What they're doing: Traxler said Planned Parenthood is making changes now to meet that anticipated need within the state's borders, including expanding telemedicine for medication-induced abortion.

The other side: Lawmakers and groups opposed to legal abortion access vowed to work to change the status here through the ballot, the Legislature and the courts.

  • State House Republicans offered several amendments to further regulate the procedure yesterday, but they were blocked by procedural objections.
  • "We do not want our state to be an abortion Mecca," Moses Bratrud, of conservative Minnesota Family Council, told Axios.

Of note: Existing restrictions elsewhere are already driving some to seek abortions here: Just under 10% of the roughly 9,100 abortions performed in Minnesota in 2020 involved out-of-state patients, per state data.

  • Most of those patients were from Wisconsin (548) and South Dakota (152).

What's ahead: SCOTUS' decision could catapult abortion back to the forefront of November races for governor and control of the state Legislature.

  • If Roe is reversed, state lawmakers will have the power to keep the status quo or seek to challenge the state's existing protections via new laws or by placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Between the lines: Democrats both in Minnesota and nationally think the prospect of further abortion restrictions at the state or federal level could mobilize voters on their side who might not otherwise turn out.

  • That's likely why public statements from DFL Gov. Tim Walz and other local leaders on the left issued in the wake of the leak were, for the most part, more full-throated.

Yes, but: It's to be seen whether abortion will supersede other top issues like education, inflation and crime, especially in suburban areas key to winning a majority in the state Legislature.

What to watch: A lawsuit challenging some of Minnesota’s current abortion restrictions, including the 24-hour waiting period, is ongoing.

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