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Abortion-Rights Groups Aim to Educate at Minnesota State Fair

Abortion-rights supporters in Minnesota say state lawmakers have proposed 400 new laws to restrict abortion access, despite a 1995 state Supreme Court decision that affirmed an expansive right to abortion. (LorieShaull/jaw.org)
Abortion-rights supporters in Minnesota say state lawmakers have proposed 400 new laws to restrict abortion access, despite a 1995 state Supreme Court decision that affirmed an expansive right to abortion. (LorieShaull/jaw.org)
August 30, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A campaign to educate Minnesotans on state laws surrounding abortion access is part of the 2019 Minnesota State Fair that continues through Labor Day. The campaign by UnRestrict Minnesota follows a recent lawsuit aimed at overturning a slate of Minnesota laws that restrict access to abortion.

Megan Peterson, executive director of the group Gender Justice says Minnesota has a reputation as a leader in social justice and health care, but at the same time maintains what she calls "unnecessary and restrictive laws" in regard to reproduction and abortion rights.

"So we wanted to really take advantage of the opportunity of the State Fair, talking to Minnesotans and really having deep conversations about abortion access and how meaningful it is, especially in this really extreme effort to actually ban abortion," says Peterson.

Peterson says many abortion-access supporters fear that even a small change in state leadership could result in a push for extreme bans on abortion that have occurred in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia. The group has a booth on the fairgrounds to distribute information to interested fairgoers.

The lawsuit claims that a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision affirmed an expansive right to abortion in the state, and would be the basis for a constitutional challenge to abortion restrictions. Peterson says most state residents, according to a poll, don't know that restrictions that limit abortion access remain on the books.

"Ninety-six percent of Minnesotans were unaware of any of the laws pertaining to abortion in our state, and in fact most people kind of assumed that we were a state that supported access to abortion," says Peterson.

The state Supreme Court's ruling said regulations, including a waiting period and parental notification requirements, were unconstitutional. Current Minnesota laws require doctors to read a script of medical information to patients; and ban professional physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives from providing early abortion care.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN