Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office would not challenge a recent ruling that overturned many state restrictions on abortion, including the 24-hour waiting period, informed consent and parental notification requirements.
Ellison’s decision comes more than two weeks after a district court judge ruled that numerous state laws restricting abortion access were unconstitutional, immediately blocking their enforcement. By not appealing, Ellison’s ruling will ensure expanded access to abortion in Minnesota, now a procedural haven in the Midwest after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“I must consider the overall public interest in deciding whether to appeal any judicial decision, including decisions related to the constitutionality of state laws,” Ellison said in a lengthy statement about his decision. “The public interest includes a number of factors, including the likelihood of success of an appeal, the appropriate and prudent use of state resources, the impact on other areas of state law, and the public’s need for finality.”
In his 140-page decision, Ramsey District Judge Thomas Gilligan cited the 1995 state Supreme Court decision in Doe v. Gomez, who concluded that access to abortion was a constitutional right. Ellison said he thinks it’s “unlikely” the state will get a different outcome if it appeals.
Ellison’s office is in dispute in the case, known as Doe v. Minnesota for more than three years after abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit in an attempt to overturn more than a dozen restrictions in one fell swoop.
After the ruling, Ellison’s office said it would review what the judge wrote and decide whether to appeal within the 60-day period required by law. Governor Tim Walz, listed as a defendant in the case, said the decision was “clear” and would not ask Ellison to appeal.
First-time DFL attorney general Ellison faces re-election in the fall. Abortion access has become a major issue in his campaign for re-election, with Ellison pledging to stand up for women who travel to Minnesota for abortions.
“I have made it clear throughout that my personal view is that the impugned laws are not good public policy. I have nonetheless vigorously defended these laws,” Ellison said in his statement.
The two top GOP candidates for attorney general — Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow — criticized Ellison and the decision and said they would appeal if they held the position.
Gilligan’s decision immediately blocked restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period between seeing a doctor and having an abortion, as well as a requirement for both parent notification for patients under 18. .
He also blocked an informed consent requirement to obtain the procedure and a law requiring abortions after the first trimester to be performed in a hospital. The decision overturned a mandate that only doctors can perform abortions, including medical abortions, which abortion providers say will dramatically expand access in the state.
The judge upheld state requirements for doctors to report certain information to the state about abortions they provide, although he eliminated criminal penalties related to noncompliance.
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