Local political parties weigh in on Supreme Court decision

Published 12:50 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in a 5 to 4 vote, paving the way for states to set their own rules on the legality of abortion. 

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, along with former President Donald Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanugh and Amy Coney Barrett, voted to overturn the 50-year precedent on abortion, while justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. Justice John Roberts voted with the majority to uphold the Mississippi abortion restrictions but did not approve of overturning Roe v. Wade altogether.

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The ruling immediately drew opinions on both sides of the political spectrum, both at the federal, state and grassroots levels.

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At the local level, DFLer Jennifer Vogt-Erickson was not surprised given the leaked draft opinion from earlier this year, and said she knew something like this would happen following Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

“My immediate reaction is grief,” she said. “My daughter will not have the same rights over her body that I had.”

She said it would be a long fight to get that right back, but sounded confident that the right to an abortion at the federal level would return at some point. She felt the ruling argued women “were not full people” and did not have rights to full citizenship.

“Obviously [the decision] is already causing hardships for many women,” she said.

In a tweet following the ruling, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison wrote that even with the Supreme Court decision, “in MN, your right to choose is protected & that’s not changing … My pledge to you: No one from any state will be prosecuted in MN for seeking an abortion that’s legal in MN.”

Vogt-Erickson said any safe-haven laws protecting out-of-state women from seeking abortion would only be temporary for as long as either the governor or either branch of the state Legislature was controlled by Democrats. She also said if all three branches were to become Republican, abortion would be criminalized. When asked why she felt that was certain, she said it was “because of the way they have voted.”

“It’s more important than ever to vote for pro-choice candidates,” she said, and believes abortion would be on the ballot for every election.

“Scott Jensen, Peggy Bennett, Gene Dornink, they want to take that right away,” she said. “They have said it.”

Bennett previously co-sponsored House File 262, which prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbreak was detected with certain exceptions. Dornink co-authored Senate File 356, which would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat was detected. 

According to Vogt-Erickson, an abortion clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, is already moving to Moorhead, and said abortion clinics in the Twin Cities could see a surge in women from Wisconsin and Iowa.

“It’s going to be harder to get an appointment cause they’re trying to meet the demand here,” she said. “There’s already women coming up from other states further South, from Texas even.”

But even with the Supreme Court’s decision, Vogt-Erickson was confident the decision would be overturned at some point, but admitted it would take a long time.

“I think that people took that right for granted for a long time, and even people who consider themselves pro-life, when it comes to their own decisions, they may still choose to end a pregnancy,” she said. “They exercise their right over their bodies because they have it … and the reality is going to hit that this is a real hardship for women to not have these rights anymore.”

Aaron Farris is vice-chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party and chairman of the 1st District GOP Party and had a different reaction after learning about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Aaron Farris

“This is a good thing because I just think it clears out … confusion,” he said. “It doesn’t outlaw abortion, it simply returns the decision to the states, which in my opinion is where this should go.”

Farris said the topic has been a contested issue since the original decision, and believed it was a good idea to let elected representatives, the “voice of the people,” have the ability to make such a decision.

He also believes the decision will not affect Minnesota immediately, as the state still held Doe v. Gomez, a 1995 decision that upheld and broadened a decision from Hennepin County District Court Judge William Posten, which ruled women had a “privacy right” to abortion under the state’s constitution and that ruled the state must pay for abortions for low-income women. According to a report by Axios, while Minnesota does not legalize abortion, the Doe v. Gomez ruling is seen “as even stronger than the previous federal protections.”

Farris said the ruling could affect the state down the road, but admitted it was possible the state could see an influx of patients from neighboring states.

“The important thing about today’s ruling is that this returns this decision to the states,” he said. “I hope people respect their state’s decisions on this because those decisions will be made by their elected representatives that they themselves have elected.”

He also said it was possible to see abortion clinics from neighboring states move to Minnesota and said it was not likely, but admitted it was hard to predict what could happen immediately.

Regardless of whether Roe v. Wade was overturned, the decision was bound to spark debate.

“It’s more important than ever to protect women’s rights and not take any of them for granted,” Vogt-Erickson said. “Even the right to vote.”

“I would like to reiterate that this isn’t a ban on abortion, which is kind of what some people are trying to paint it as,” Farris said. “It’s returning the decision to the states and to the people’s elected representatives. It’s a case that was issued 50 years ago. I think our politics and our society have changed a lot in those 50 years, and I think it’s just something that people need to remember is that this is now giving more voice to the people and their elected representatives.”