A group of moms are seeking to intervene in a case that overturned several of Minnesota’s “commonsense” and “bipartisan” protections for women and girls who obtain abortions.
Among those protections was a two-parent notification law, which required both parents of a minor to be given notice 48 hours before their daughter’s abortion procedure.
In a July ruling, Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan, appointed to the bench by former Gov. Mark Dayton, struck down this and four other regulations that he deemed unconstitutional.
These provisions included:
- The “physician-only law,” which required abortions to be performed only by physicians.
- The “hospitalization law,” which mandated that abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital or abortion facility.
- A law that subjected abortion providers to felony penalties for violating state regulations.
- The “mandatory disclosure law,” which mandated a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. It also required physicians to inform the patient of the medical risks associated with abortion and how to review materials on alternatives to abortion.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is tasked with defending Minnesota’s laws regardless of his personal political beliefs, announced later that month that he would not appeal Gilligan’s decision.
“At most, an appeal would remand the case to the district court for a bench trial in front of the same judge, where the State would once again be unlikely to prevail for the reasons the court outlined in its July 11 ruling,” he said.
Traverse County Attorney Matthew Franzese then sought to intervene in the case, but his motion was denied by Gilligan, who said Franzese waited too long and failed to show a “sufficient legal interest in the case,” the Associated Press reported.
Attorney Teresa Collett said during a press conference Tuesday that Attorney General Ellison “is in dereliction of his duty to protect the health and safety of women and young girls.” She’s representing a group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support (MOMS), which filed a motion to intervene in the case this week.
Ellison had three years to present evidence challenging the claims of the plaintiffs but failed to do so, according to Collett.
In 43 days, her clients gathered evidence from “11 of the nation’s experts contesting virtually every fact that the judge’s ruling was based on.”
“In the 80 page opinion of the district court, the judge used the phrase either ‘unrebutted evidence’ or ‘no evidence’ 12 times to describe the attorney general’s conduct in this case, notwithstanding his three years to provide evidence,” Collett said.
“The attorney general has stepped aside, and now Minnesota moms are stepping in,” added attorney Renee Carlson of True North Legal.
Jessica Chastek is a member of the MOMS group and spoke on behalf of its nearly 50 members who all have at least one minor daughter. She said the repeal of the two-parent notification law will harm victims of abuse and sex trafficking.
“We are concerned about girls being exploited by sexual predators and then being further exploited by the abortion industry,” she said. “Young girls need to be protected from abusers, but this change in law actually enables and protects abusers. Further, we are deeply troubled that our daughters could undergo a serious medical procedure that we, their mothers, know nothing about.”
“Regardless of one’s position on abortion, every parent in this state should be concerned that fundamental parental rights to be notified of, participate in, and give consent to medical care for our minor children, our daughters, are being taken away,” she continued.
Also present was Barb Waldorf, whose father-in-law was Gene Waldorf, a DFL senator who co-authored Minnesota’s two-parent notification law.
“I’m here today to honor his legacy because what was true then is still true today: parents need to know when their children are facing a serious situation,” she said. “The language of the bill was carefully chosen, because at its core it wasn’t about whether you were pro-life or pro-choice; it was about protecting the health and safety of young women and girls.”
Susan Neuville’s father-in-law was Republican legislator Tom Neuville, who authored the original bill with Waldorf, according to a press release.
“It’s the beginning of the school year — permission slip season. Without adult permission, my kids cannot go on a field trip, have their photo taken, or receive basic dental care. They cannot be vaccinated, or even be served ice cream at school. What I would like to understand is how it would make any sense to ask that same child to decide whether or not to have an abortion,” Neuville said.
Dr. Michael Valley spoke in support of the parental notification law, noting minors lack a “mature” decision-making process that can “benefit from parental, adult involvement.”
“Minors who undergo other medical procedures are required to have parental involvement and sometimes consent before they undergo the procedure. An abortion should be no different,” he said. “Having this provision also provides the opportunity for parents and potentially law enforcement to be aware of relationships that may be coercive or threatening for the minor involved.”
He called it a “disservice” to women to allow non-physicians to perform abortions because they lack training in handling potentially life-threatening complications.
Collett said she is optimistic Gilligan will grant their motion to intervene and believes it will have a better chance at success because her clients are “the real people who will be harmed if this opinion goes into effect.”