Updated at 11:49 a.m.
Gov. Mark Dayton urged a group of abortion rights activists at the Capitol Wednesday to vocally fight bills in the Legislature restricting abortion.
Dayton delivered brief remarks to a crowd gathered in the basement for the 2011 “Pro-Choice Lobby Day.” An event organizer said it was the first time a sitting governor had addressed the event in its history – which spans more than 15 years.
Bills sponsored by anti-abortion majorities in the Legislature would eliminate state funding of abortion, allowed since a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling. Anti-abortion activists are also pushing for legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Dayton, who was unanimously endorsed by abortion rights groups during the campaign, threatened to block bills limiting abortion rights.
“I assure you that nothing as extreme that violates that basic fundamental right – and it is a constitutional right as established by the United States Supreme Court – will be enacted with my signature,” Dayton said. “It will not happen here in Minnesota.”
He said that the choice to have an abortion should be made between “a woman and her physician and her faith.”
“It’s not a place for government, especially politicians who are engaged in their own political ideologies and advantages and ambitions, to be telling individual women what their rights are as a person in a small D democratic society.”
Dayton urged the activists to encourage legislators to “slow down the pace of these measures, especially the most drastic measures.”
Linnea House, executive director of NARAL Minnesota, said it was the first time a sitting governor had addressed the crowd.
“It was a big victory for us that he came,” House said.