A group of mothers defending “common-sense” and “bipartisan” abortion restrictions in Minnesota have made clear their belief that the state’s objections are legally flawed.
On Thursday a court hearing was held about the dispute between the attorney general’s office and the advocacy group Mothers Offering Maternal Support (MOMS). Judge Thomas Gilligan of the Ramsey County District Court presided over the hearing, the same judge who had struck down multiple abortion restrictions as “unconstitutional” in July.
Although the attorney general’s office had declined to appeal Gilligan’s ruling, Attorney General Keith Ellison nevertheless filed a motion that opposed MOMS’s attempt to defend the restrictions.
MOMS has since filed a response arguing they have the legal standing to intervene in the case. They believe Gilligan’s ruling — which in part allows minors to get an abortion without parental notice, informed consent, or a 24-hour waiting period — violates parental rights and puts their children in danger.
At a press conference after the Thursday hearing, attorney Renee Carlson said the expert opinion presented in their response shows that the “decision-making ability of teens is different, that girls benefit from consultation with their parents, and that some girls are coerced into getting abortions to hide criminal conduct.”
One mother in attendance, Maria, said she became pregnant at the age of 15 and was pressured by her relatives to get an abortion but refused.
“I can attest to the hardship of being a young, pregnant mother,” she said. “As a mother, it is my job to make sure my daughter never experiences a journey like mine. But how can I help her if I didn’t know she was pregnant? By removing the parental notification requirement in the law, the state is enabling older men and others who prey upon our daughters.”
Attorney Teresa Collett said parents have a “constitutional right to direct the care and upbringing of their children” and criticized Ellison and his office for failing to provide adequate evidence to support his objections.
“The attorney general’s office … [continues] to insist that any rights that parents have regarding their children are no different than the rights of the general public. That’s not the law, nor should it be the law,” said Collett.
“In this case, the statute assures that parents know that their teen is seeking an abortion, a medical procedure that’s not without its risks,” she continued. “Yet the parties in the case … would absolutely dispense with most of those requirements. There was no evidence provided by the attorney general regarding the difference in decision-making ability by teens compared with adults.”
According to Collett, Judge Gilligan and the attorney general’s office questioned the “timeliness” of MOMS’s intervention, but she reiterated that Ellison’s refusal to appeal Gilligan’s ruling was a failure in his duty to defend the interests of parents.
“The plaintiffs and the attorney general make the absurd demand that any citizen who has a unique and special interest in statutes that are being challenged must in fact monitor the litigation throughout all the processes,” said Collett.
“It’s pure fantasy, and that is not what the law requires.”
In addition to the loss of informed consent, a 48-hour parental notice, and a 24-hour waiting period, Gilligan’s ruling allows non-physicians to perform abortions and also permits abortions after the first trimester to be performed somewhere other than a hospital or abortion facility.
The only restriction Gilligan upheld was the requirement for abortion facilities to keep track of abortion complications and deaths and report them to Minnesota’s health commissioner.
Watch the full press conference below: