More than 1,000 abortion opponents gathered at the Minnesota Capitol on Friday, pledging to curb abortion rights that were first approved 43 years ago in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade.
Organized by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the rally brought advocates from around the state, carrying signs that read “Protect life” and “Stop abortion now.”
The event took on a heightened role this year following months of recent media coverage of undercover videos that showed a Planned Parenthood executive describing how some clinics provide tissue from aborted fetuses for research.
Those videos “were the last straw,” said Rosemary Luoma, 43, of Crystal, who attended the march for the first time Friday with her sister, Brenda Buckley-Jones, 45, of Chaska. Luoma, a customer service representative, said, “We all have a right to life.”
Buckley-Jones said she hoped that the large turnout would show people that “abortion isn’t the answer.” She added: “It does more harm than good.”
Activists were joined by more than a dozen Republican legislators, including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. Daudt said GOP efforts to tighten rules governing clinics and another proposal to end the use of tax dollars on abortions failed during the last legislative session because they were blocked by DFLers.
“Unfortunately, these bills did not become law because we have a pro-abortion [rights] governor and a pro-abortion [rights] Senate in the state of Minnesota,” said Daudt, eliciting boos from the crowd.
He added: “I’m really proud to say we have a pro-life majority in the Minnesota House and that 100 percent of our Republican caucus is very strongly anti-abortion.”
Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota issued a statement decrying efforts to regulate abortion clinics.
“As a health care provider, we’ve seen the harmful impact on women when politicians restrict access to abortion,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of the regional affiliate. “We stand with women, men and young people from across our region who support a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. We will continue to fight for every woman’s right to make her own personal decisions — and we refuse to allow politicians to take us backward.”
Pointing to a recent downward trend in the number of abortions performed, state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said rallies like Friday’s have played a role, in addition to nonprofits, in helping women when they experience unintended pregnancies.
An Associated Press survey last summer showed that abortion was down about 12 percent since 2010, but there are competing theories as to why. Abortion-rights groups say increased use of contraceptives has resulted in fewer unintended pregnancies, while others say a shift in attitudes has resulted in more women choosing to carry their pregnancies to term.
“Rallies and events like this bring attention to the issue,” Chamberlain said. “It’s really good news when the number of abortions go down.”