Walz issues executive order meant to legally protect those coming to Minnesota for abortions

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At the State Capitol in St. Paul — voices of dissent in the abortion debate.

Abortion-rights advocates held a rally there Saturday afternoon.

“It breaks my heart that we took a step back 50 years in time, when we need to be progressing forward,” declared Stephanie Wilson, from Fridley.

Anti-abortion advocates, rallied there in the morning, just hours before.    

“The fight is not over by any means,” says Jenna Schabert, with the group Students for Life. “Roe being overturned means that the right to abortion is decided by the states rather than the country, so it’s no longer at the federal level.”

Protests continued outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. following Friday’s high court ruling.

Anti-abortion advocates are calling the decision a victory.

“We’ve been working on this for actually more than 50 years, before Roe v. Wade, working to protect unborn children.” Says Carol Tobias, President of the National Right-to-Life Committee.

In Minnesota, access to abortion is protected under a 1995 State Supreme Court ruling.

On Saturday, Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order, meant to protect women coming to Minnesota for the procedure.

The order also prohibits state agencies from aiding any investigation into someone seeking reproductive health care services that are legal in Minnesota.

“The decision yesterday didn’t do a damn thing to prevent abortions,” Walz told reporters. “All it did was make it more dangerous and less accessible, especially to the people who need it. [The order] states that we will use all authority of this office to decline to extradite people who are charged under other states’ laws that criminalize providing or obtaining reproductive health care services.”

But some abortion-rights advocates worry about fallout from other states.

“Is the woman who comes here has it done, is she going to go back and be prosecuted?” wonders Toni Wenzell, from Columbia Heights. “Are they going to honor Walz’s law or ruling?”

Legal experts say it’s still up for debate whether a person returning to their home state can be prosecuted after getting an abortion elsewhere, where the procedure is legal.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has pledged to fight to support those traveling to the state for care.

“What I’m saying is that that right will be protected here,” Ellison said, at a Friday news conference. “If they go back, we’ll go to the state they came from and say ‘You don’t have any jurisdiction to prosecute or punish this person for what they did lawfully in Minnesota.’”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jenson has issued a statement, acknowledging that abortion is legal in Minnesota.

But he says he wants to seek out alternatives like universal adoption, family planning measures, and counseling.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to a Jensen spokesperson for a specific comment about the governor’s executive order, but has not heard back.  

Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists say they’re not going anywhere.

“Make sure we have a strong presence in all of the states,” Schabert says. “Regardless of whether it’s a blue state, red state, swing state. We need a pro-life presence in every single state.”