Second group challenges ruling ending Minnesota abortion restrictions
A group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support is attempting to intervene after Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan in July tossed several laws restricting abortion, including a 24-hour wait period and a requirement for minors to notify both parents before getting the procedure. Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who backs abortion rights, declined to file an appeal in the case, arguing his office had spent three years and more than half a million dollars defending the laws in the case Doe v. Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — A group of Minnesota anti-abortion activists is attempting to intervene in a lawsuit that resulted in a district court judge throwing out many of Minnesota’s abortion restrictions this summer.
It’s the second group attempting to intervene after Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan in July tossed several laws restricting abortion, including a 24-hour wait period and a requirement for minors to notify both parents before getting the procedure. Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who backs abortion rights, declined to file an appeal in the case , arguing his office had spent three years and more than half a million dollars defending the laws in the case Doe v. Minnesota.
The parental disclosure requirement was front and center Tuesday, Sept. 13, as an anti-abortion group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support announced its push to intervene in the case. Addressing reporters at the state Capitol, Teresa Collett, an attorney representing the mother’s group and director of the University of St. Thomas Prolife Center, said they are trying to intervene in order to protect parents’ rights to be informed of medical procedures.
“We're the real people that will be harmed,” she said, referring to the more than a dozen women gathered behind her at the news conference. “These are the women. And in fact, frankly, in this room, some of the men will be deprived of their rights as fathers.”
Susan Neuville, the daughter-in-law of former Minnesota lawmaker Tom Neuville, a co-author of the notification requirement, argued it makes little sense that abortions are exempt from notification when parents must sign permission slips for so many other parts of their children's lives.
“Without adult permission, my kids cannot go on field trips, have their photo taken or receive basic dental care,” she said. “What I would like to understand is how it would make any sense to ask that that same child decide whether or not to have an abortion.”
Opponents of the parental notification requirement argue not all minor patients know their parents, and in some cases the requirement can put a patient in danger if she has an abusive parent. When it was still in effect, patients could be exempted from the notification requirement if they publicly declared abuse to authorities.
Gilligan’s ruling on July 11 ruled Minnesota abortion regulations violated fundamental rights to abortion and privacy under the state constitution. Besides the waiting period, restrictions included parental disclosure requirements for minors, restrictions on which medical staff can perform abortions, and felony penalties for violations.
The ruling also blocked a requirement for second-trimester abortions to be performed in a hospital and ruled the state’s requirement for health care providers to give abortion seekers an “informed consent” statement to be in violation of free speech protections. Abortion providers must continue to report certain data on abortion to the state of Minnesota — something advocates were pushing for the court to block as well.
The group of anti-abortion mothers is attempting to intervene in the case after Ellison let Gilligan’s decision stand, and filed on the last possible day to seek an appeal in the case. Their petition comes as Traverse County Attorney Matthew Franzese and the conservative legal advocacy group Thomas More Society continue their push to intervene in the case after Gilligan denied their petition to intervene in district court last week.
Franzese and his attorneys have now filed an appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court ending federal abortion protections in June by overturning Roe v. Wade, the right to abortion is still guaranteed in Minnesota under the 1995 state Supreme Court decision Doe v. Gomez.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct Susan Neuville's relationship to former lawmaker Tom Neuville.