May 21 rally at the MN Capitol (
by Dan Burns
Jun 11, 2019, 7:30 PM

Wishing those behind Minnesota’s pro-choice lawsuit very, very well

From late May:

Abortion rights supporters say they’re launching a legal strike on abortion restrictions in Minnesota, as laws governing the procedure expand across the country.

A coalition of women’s and abortion rights groups, along with the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, announced a lawsuit in St. Paul on (May 22). They said a 1995 state Supreme Court decision made a number of existing regulations unconstitutional, including a waiting period and parental notification requirements.

I’d wager that a solid majority of Minnesotans, including young women, don’t know that there are restrictions on the procedure here. Namely:

A woman must receive state directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.

The parents of a minor must be notified before an abortion is performed.

(If you want more information, click on that link, then on Download Fact Sheet for a PDF.)

Some years ago there was controversy when it turned out the “mandatory information,” or whatever you want to call it, included pretty much outright falsehoods. (I don’t call them “lies” because the zealots who put them in there undoubtedly believed every word, regardless of fact and reason, as is the case with everything they’re emotionally predisposed to believe.) I remember blogging about that at the time, but that has been lost in a database crash, and I’ve been unable to find out how or if that was resolved. Here’s the existing statute, if you want to plow through.

Historical information:

The 1990 US Supreme Court case Hodgson v. Minnesota said that parental consent can cause danger for minors seeking abortions if physical, emotional or sexual abuse is already present. The case concerned a Minnesota law. The law required notice to both parents of a minor before she could undergo an abortion; it also contained a judicial bypass provision designed to take effect only if a court found one to be necessary.Dr. Jane Hodgson, a Minneapolis gynecologist, challenged the law. The Eighth Circuit had ruled that the law would be unconstitutional without a judicial bypass, but that the bypass provision saved it. While Justice Stevens delivered a majority opinion for one of the holdings, there were five votes for each of two holdings, with Justice O’Connor proving as the decisive vote for each. Justices Stevens, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun and O’Connor formed a majority holding that the two-parent notice requirement by itself was unconstitutional. Justice O’Connor believed that the two-parent requirement entailed risk to a pregnant teenager; she also argued that the rule failed to meet even the lowest standard of judicial review, a rationality standard. She joined the Court’s more conservative Justices (Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices White, Scalia and Kennedy), to form a majority for the law being valid with the judicial bypass; Justice Kennedy had pointed out the usefulness of the bypass procedure, as judges granted all but a handful of requests to authorize abortions without parental notice.

As to whether Hodgson will be used as relevant precedent by Minnesota courts in dealing with the new lawsuit, I’m not a lawyer.

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