Walz calls on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also called on Minnesotans to "fight like hell" to protect abortion access.

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan at their inauguration ceremony in January 2019. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

Gov. Tim Walz has joined several other Democratic governors around the United States in calling on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, as well as promising to protect legal abortion in Minnesota.

In a May 3 letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership, 16 state governors and one territorial governor (Albert Bryan of the U.S. Virgin Islands) asked them to “take immediate action to protect reproductive rights across the nation.”

On Monday night, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health case — an opinion purporting to overturn Roe v. Wade — was leaked to the press, which caused a firestorm of reaction on both sides of the aisle.

Generally speaking, Republicans have condemned the leak as an unprecedented breach of judicial ethics, and possibly the law, while also welcoming the prospect of a Roe overturn. Democrats, on the other hand, have downplayed or ignored the leak itself, but have expressed outrage over what they perceive as the endangerment of a “fundamental” right.

“The consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade for millions across the nation cannot be overstated,” the letter reads. “Our collective responsibility to defend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, has never been more important.”

“Overturning Roe will turn back the clock on reproductive health, and Congress must immediately take action to ensure that our nation does not go backward and that the rights of all Americans to access reproductive healthcare and abortion continue to be protected,” it adds.

Gov. Walz has also reacted to the leak of Justice Alito’s opinion on Twitter, saying multiple times that an abortion ban in Minnesota will “never” happen “under [his] watch.”

“There will not be a ban on abortion as long as I’m governor of Minnesota. But in this dangerous time, we need to do more,” he tweeted in a Wednesday evening thread. “If the Supreme Court opinion is released and Roe v. Wade is overturned, Minnesota will be one of the only states in our region that will provide access to safe and legal abortion. That only increases the urgency of protecting reproductive rights in Minnesota.”

“As long as I have the honor of holding this office, I will not sign laws that restrict access to abortions in our state. Minnesota is a leader in reproductive rights in our region and across our country. We can’t go backwards,” he added. “This isn’t about politics. This is about public health and what freedoms we enjoy as Minnesotans. I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect abortion rights and access.”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also called on Minnesotans to “fight like hell” to protect abortion access.

“Our rights are on the line. Abortion is on the ballot this November. Let’s get to work,” she tweeted Monday evening. “I know you’re scared. I am, too. But the best antidote to fear is to organize, vote, and fight like hell to protect our access to an abortion.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case at some point in the month of June. Even if the high court rules in favor of Dobbs, and thus effectively overturns Roe v. Wade, the ruling would not ban abortion nationwide, but allow each state to keep or amend their abortion laws as they see fit.