Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday that he will do everything he can to maintain access to abortion in the state after the leak of a draft opinion of a US Supreme Court decision that would nullify the right. constitutional to abortion.
But the DFL governor said the decision disrupts years of constitutional precedent and will lead to state legislatures trying to impose further restrictions on access to abortion services. “When this happens, we are a fundamentally different country,” Walz said after an event marking Small Business Week. “But let me make this clear, whoever sits in this office, as I am privileged to do at this time, will make that decision. My statement is very clear: not under my supervision.”
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution grants abortion rights, but that could be struck down by a future court or constitutional amendment. Governors have no say in such amendments, which need simple House and Senate majorities, as well as a majority of voters in a statewide election.
Walz said polls show that a large majority of Minnesota voters support abortion access and that the decision should be made by the women themselves.
The first-term governor initially brushed off questions about the political implications of the possible decision. All five statewide elected offices and all 201 legislative seats are on the ballot this November. All of the Republican gubernatorial candidates have said they oppose the decision that enshrined abortion rights in the US, Roe v. Wade, and would work to restrict access. A decision similar to the one outlined in the leaked draft would give states the ability to ban abortion.
“I don’t approach it first as a rallying point,” Walz said in response to a question about how the potential ruling would affect the fall election. “I see it as public health and the right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies in matters of reproductive health.
“We are in a dangerous moment,” he said. “People are scared today.”
But Walz did say he thinks abortion-rights supporters will mobilize and that overturning federal abortion rights will present a stark difference between major political parties.
“There are no ifs, I buts about it. By any means necessary, Republicans have made it clear that they will restrict women’s right to make reproductive decisions in all circumstances. That is inconceivable. There are no theories about it. It will happen.
“This was the stuff of dystopian movies and now it’s just around the corner.”
The issue was due to come up on the House floor Tuesday through a GOP amendment to the Health and Human Services funding and policy bill. The amendment would require special licenses and regulations for clinics that offer more than 10 abortions a month.
Senate Human Services Licensing Policy Committee Chair Michelle Benson, a Ham Lake Republican who until last week was a Republican candidate for governor, issued a statement Tuesday.
“Republicans stand with women facing challenging and unplanned pregnancies and we will continue our efforts to give unborn babies and pregnant women every chance at a healthy and happy life,” Benson said. “Annul Roe v. Wade puts the abortion decision in the hands of Minnesotans, while Doe v. Gomez, Minnesota’s version of Roe v. Wade, stay in place. If Roe is struck down, we will work to build consensus for the strongest possible protections for unborn children and support for women, mothers and families in Minnesota.”