Engaged in heated primary, Omar enlists help from abortion activist groups, DFL legislators

The Minneapolis Democrat said she will continue her push to "codify Roe into federal law."

The Minneapolis Democrat said she will continue her push to "codify Roe into federal law." (Ilhan Omar/Facebook)

While Ilhan Omar is locked in another contentious and expensive primary battle for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District seat against Don Samuels, the three-term Minneapolis Democrat has enlisted some help from those in the abortion activist community.

On Tuesday, Omar held a press conference at The Coven, a women-owned co-working office space in Minneapolis, where she announced she’s been endorsed by the political action committee for Planned Parenthood.

Omar also touted the support of a handful of progressive DFL legislators who were on hand to speak glowingly of her efforts to push a bill she is sponsoring in the U.S. House that would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.

“When the Supreme Court chose to roll back the clock, I put my body on the line and stood in protest alongside my colleagues because the moment called for bold and direct action,” Omar said to a crowd of supporters gathered to commemorate the upcoming two-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, which became a lightning rod political issue during the 2022 election cycle.

“I put my body on the line because I could not accept living in a world where my daughters were going to grow up in a world with few reproductive rights,” Omar said. “I am so proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood and will do everything possible to codify Roe into federal law.”

While Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council member, is thought to be a slightly more moderate, less hyperbolic option for MN-CD5 Democratic primary voters, he too has expressed support for legislating the Roe v. Wade abortion access schema into federal law. But all those in the abortion activist networks seem to be lining up behind Omar as the Aug. 13 primary election nears.

Former DFL legislator Ruth Richardson, who serves as CEO of the regional chapter for Planned Parenthood, was on hand Tuesday and praised Omar’s work in Congress to preserve and expand abortion access.

“We know that voting rights are on the line,” Richardson said. “We know that sexual and reproductive health care rights are on the line. And that includes access to abortion care, access to contraception and fertility care as well. And we also recognize that democracy is on the line.

“We need someone who is going to be committed to protecting women’s health and also gender expansive people within this moment, and that is Congresswoman Omar.”

Legislator, lobbyist share abortion stories, pledge support for Omar

Two speakers who joined the press conference included state Sen. Mary Kunesh, DFL-Shoreview, and Alissa Light, who was recently hired by Gender Justice to lead a statewide campaign to build support for the “Equal Rights Amendment” legislation that Democrats in the state House and Senate were unable to pass this spring. Both women shared their personal stories of abortion and pledged to continue to build support among voters for candidates who will vote to pass the ERA bill during the next legislative session.

“I went into that clinic and I have to say it felt like a sanctuary,” Light said, recalling an abortion she had two decades ago when she was in her early 20s. “It was bright, the people there welcomed me, they supported me to navigate what felt very overwhelming to me as a young person not having insurance … I was called into the procedure room for an incredibly simple procedure that lasted about five minutes.”

“We all deserve to have access to this kind of care,” Light said, who added that she and her two young daughters are looking forward to door-knocking for Omar this summer during the primary.

Kunesh also mentioned she had an abortion as a 17-year-old, which she described as a “life-threatening pregnancy as a result of an act of violence.”

“I will fight with all my ability to ensure that the threats to personal reproductive autonomy are ended once and for all for all persons,” Kunesh said, as she praised Omar for her efforts in Congress to fight for abortion access.

“What we have here is an incredible, like, a coven of leaders, that are all championing human rights — all ferocious leaders,” Kunesh said. “I am personally compelled to fight for reproductive freedom despite the recent Supreme Court decisions … the stakes are absolutely high for people across Minnesota.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.