In a Huge Victory for Abortion Rights in Minnesota, District Court Reaffirms State Constitutional Protections for Abortion and Permanently Blocks Numerous Restrictions

July 11, 2022, a state district court permanently blocked several Minnesota abortion restrictions, including:

  • a ban on qualified advance-practice clinicians providing abortion care;
  • a requirement forcing patients to delay their abortion care by at least 24 hours after consulting with a healthcare provider;
  • a requirement that young people notify both parents before they can receive abortion care;
  •  a requirement forcing abortion providers to give irrelevant and misleading information to their patients;
  • a ban on the provision of  second-trimester abortion care outside of hosptials; and
  • regulations that subject abortion providers to felony criminal penalties for minor regulatory infractions.

The court held that the Minnesota Constitution protects not just a fundamental right to choose abortion, but also a fundamental right to access abortion care.  The Honorable Thomas A Gilligan said:  “The right to choose to have an abortion . . . would be meaningless without the right to access abortion care.”

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(Minn. 2d Jud. Dist. No. 62-cv-19-3868)
Minnesota’s laws concerning abortion and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have become outdated. Enacted decades ago, many of these laws are out of step with contemporary medical practice and reflect antiquated views about gender and sexuality. In addition, they fail to honor the diverse religious traditions of Minnesota residents.
  • This case challenges the following Minnesota laws:
    A law prohibiting qualified, advance-practice clinicians from providing abortion care;
  • Unnecessary hospitalization requirements for abortion patients;
  • Intrusive reporting laws requiring healthcare providers to turn over detailed, personal information about abortion patients to the State;
  • Laws requiring healthcare providers to give their patients biased and misleading information about pregnancy and abortion;
  • A mandatory waiting-period for abortion patients no matter their degree of certainty about their decision or how long it took them to reach an abortion provider in the first place;
  • A law requiring healthcare providers to bury or cremate fetal tissue resulting from an abortion or miscarriage regardless of their patients’ religious beliefs or personal preferences;
  • A law requiring teenagers to notify both of their parents before ending an unwanted pregnancy;
  • A law prohibiting healthcare providers from advertising that they treat STIs; and
  • Laws subjecting abortion providers to criminal penalties

These outdated laws harm Minnesotans in several ways.  First, they deny people seeking sexual and reproductive healthcare the benefits of scientific progress, forcing their healthcare providers to ignore scientific advancements and practice medicine in accordance with obsolete standards.  Second, they discriminate against women and religious minorities, denying them equal respect under the law.  Third, they impose burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on healthcare providers, increasing the cost and decreasing the availability of sexual and reproductive healthcare in Minnesota.

Plaintiffs:

Dr. Jane Doe; Mary Moe;
First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis; Our Justice

Defendants:

State of Minnesota; Governor of Minnesota; Attorney General of Minnesota; Minnesota Commissioner of Health; Minnesota Board of Medical Practice; and Minnesota Board of Nursing

Co-counsel:

Gender Justice