One year later: ‘No middle ground’ in abortion debate in Minnesota
One year ago Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decision that ended the nationwide right to an abortion. State laws, including in Minnesota, have since changed, sowing further division amongst those at the forefront of the decades-long debate on both sides.
The Justices’ ruling on June 24, 2022, evoked strong feelings from pro-choice advocates and women who felt a fundamental right was stripped away in the U.S.
“Circumstances across the country are incredibly dire,” reflected Minnesota Sen. Erin Maye Quade, DFL -Apple Valley.
It was instead considered a victory for anti-abortion advocates who, one year later, are celebrating bans and restrictions in about half of the country’s states.
“The estimates are indicating that tens of thousands of unborn lives are being protected and saved, and so that is something that we celebrate,” said Cathy Blaeser, co-executive director of the nonprofit Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).
That celebration stopped at Minnesota, Blaeser said. MCCL protested in January as the Minnesota Legislature codified the right to abortion into state law.
“It is the most extreme and radical law in the nation,” Blaeser reacted.
In contrast, Sen. Maye Quade saw the new law as a win in a sea of losses.
“We have done the work in Minnesota to make sure that we protect rights and access and expand access,” she said. “But…we are one state and so one year out things are really, really bad.”
Minnesota, on the one-year anniversary, is surrounded by states where abortion is banned or restricted. Maye Quade noted an influx of out-of-state patients coming to Minnesota clinics where abortion is offered.
“There were around 900 abortions being performed each month in the beginning of the year. This year, it was about 1,200. And then in March, it was 1,400, so it’s a pretty dramatic increase,” she continued. “People are being pushed later into pregnancy before they can access care, and it’s creating longer waits for people in the state of Minnesota as well.”
Several polls, including a recent Gallup poll, in the last year showed most Americans identify as pro-choice. The how or when an abortion should be legal has often been the debate, something that remained rather black and white for those at the forefront of the conversation on Saturday.
Blaeser listed the exceptions where MCCL would support an abortion: “…For the life of the mother, for cases of reported rape, reported incest cases where there’s a medical emergency that is impacting the physical health of the mother.”
The non-profit does not support abortion up to any certain point in pregnancy, as became the policy in some states following the Dobbs ruling last June, she said.
“There is not a line in the sand in terms of a number of weeks or a point in pregnancy,” Blaeser added when asked to clarify.
Asked if there’s any potential for ‘middle ground,’ Sen. Erin Maye Quade said, “There is no middle ground between the government controls your reproductive freedom, or you do.”
“Every pregnancy is so unique, sometimes things happen later in pregnancy, sometimes medical situations change sometimes, you know, the health and safety of people change, and we have to allow appropriate medical care to be given to people at every stage of pregnancy,” she added.
Maye Quade said she’s fearful a federal ban is possible depending on the outcome of next year’s presidential election, which would supersede the current law protecting abortion access in Minnesota.