MCC director decries lawsuit challenging abortion measures

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

A lawsuit challenging health and safety measures related to abortion in Minnesota is an attack on bipartisan legislation that protects and respects life, the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference said.

“It’s an unfortunate, saddening attack on solid, bipartisan legislation that protects women and children, ensures that people make the decision with informed consent and makes sure that human remains aren’t put in the trash,” Jason Adkins said of the lawsuit, filed May 29 in Ramsey County District Court.

The lawsuit targets a number of Minnesota’s requirements for obtaining an abortion, including its 24-hour reporting period; two-parent notification for patients under 18; prohibition of non-physicians performing abortions; and hospital settings for abortions performed after 16 weeks.

The lawsuit also seeks to end data collection on abortions and the requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated instead of being treated as medical waste.

The lawsuit was filed by St. Paul-based Gender Justice and New York-based Lawyering Project, which argue that the laws deny women access to constitutionally-protected abortion services and impose undue burdens on health care providers.

Adkins said he views the lawsuit’s chance of success at less than 50 percent, but it’s still “much higher than anybody would like it to be.”

If the lawsuit reaches the state Supreme Court, the court’s seven justices — five of whom were appointed by then-Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat — might view any restrictions on abortion with skepticism, Adkins said. But, they also could be reluctant to politicize the court by striking down the abortion measures, he said.

“If the court struck down these regulations, it would politicize the Minnesota Supreme Court in a way that our court and our state has thankfully avoided,” he said. “I think that’s going to weigh heavily on the justices.”

The lawsuit in Minnesota has been filed amid action in a number states to prepare for any rulings the U.S. Supreme Court might make in regard to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the country, Adkins said. One example is New York, which in January expanded the conditions under which abortions can be performed, Adkins said.

The Minnesota State Constitution, as interpreted by the state Supreme Court, already guarantees a right to an abortion. So action around abortion is likely to be centered on court challenges to state laws already on the books, Adkins said.

“Legislators don’t need to enact these sort of radical bills like they’ve seen in New York,” Adkins said of his thoughts about Minnesota’s situation, “and the bipartisan consensus around some of these regulations that have already been on the books for years would hold. But it seems that extremist, pro-abortion activists are going to try to challenge them in court.”

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