The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively ending the era of federal protection for legal abortion across the United States. The opinion was issued in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which challenged Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Here's what the end of Roe means for Minnesota and neighboring states. Read the Supreme Court's decision here.
What is Roe v. Wade?
It's the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide to the point of viability. In 1970, a Texas woman — Norma McCorvey, who was referred to as Jane Roe to protect her identity — sued the Dallas County district attorney, Henry Wade, to challenge a state law banning most abortions. The main question was whether the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's right to have an abortion to end a pregnancy. The justices ruled 7-2 that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a "right to privacy" that protects the choice to have an abortion.
The decision did not legalize abortion in all cases. The justices also ruled that the state has an interest in protecting the health of both mothers and fetuses, and decided that while abortion could not be banned in the first trimester of fetal development, it could be regulated in the second trimester and prohibited entirely in many cases in the third trimester.
Was the Roe decision upheld by subsequent U.S. Supreme Court rulings?
Yes. From 1973 to 2019, the Supreme Court has issued decisions on 17 cases related to abortion rights, according to the Washington Post. In the most significant case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the court upheld Roe in a 5-4 decision but it also affirmed Pennsylvania's restrictions requiring a minor seeking an abortion to have the consent of a parent, married women to notify their husband of their intent to have an abortion, and a 24-hour waiting period prior to undergoing the procedure. The Dobbs opinion also overturned Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Is Roe v. Wade popular?
A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in April found that Americans support upholding Roe by a 2-to-1 margin. According to the poll, a majority of Americans oppose making abortions illegal in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy and 25% believe their state should make it harder to access abortions.
A September 2018 Star Tribune-MPR News Minnesota Poll found that 59% of registered Minnesota voters said they would like to see Roe remain in place, while 26% said they would like it modified and 12% said it should be overturned to make abortion illegal.
What happens now that Roe v. Wade is overturned?
The U.S. returns to the pre-Roe status quo, in which individual states are free to regulate or outright ban abortions within their borders. In many states, access to abortion will likely be determined by which major party controls the legislature and governor's office. According to the New York Times, 20 states are likely to ban or restrict abortions within their borders, while 20 states and the District of Columbia are likely to protect access to abortions. The future of abortion access remains uncertain in the remaining 10 states.
Would abortions remain legal in Minnesota?
Minnesota is one of the states where abortion is likely to remain legal. Abortion access is constitutionally protected in Minnesota under the 1995 state Supreme Court decision in Doe v. Gomez, though there are restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period, mandated counseling and a requirement that minors notify both parents. Changing the state Constitution would require either a voter-approved amendment or a reversal by the state's top court, while additional abortion restrictions are possible if Republicans sweep both chambers and the governor's office.
There are eight abortion providers in the state, concentrated in the Twin Cities metro area, Rochester and Duluth, according to Unrestrict Minnesota, a pro-abortion rights group.
Have Minnesota lawmakers recently attempted to place new restrictions on abortions?
Yes. Republican lawmakers in the Legislature introduced a slate of proposals this session seeking to limit abortion access, including a measure that would prohibit the procedure early in pregnancy and outsource enforcement of the law to private citizens.
None of these measures were approved. But with control of state government hanging in the balance in the upcoming midterm elections and the actions of other states already clamping down on abortion, those pushing for new restrictions hope that Minnesota could follow suit.
What would be the status of abortion rights in states that border Minnesota if Roe is overturned?
Abortions will likely immediately become illegal in Wisconsin, due to an 1849 law banning abortions in the state that remains on the books despite being unenforceable under Roe. However, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has said he will not enforce the law after federal protections are lifted. Both North Dakota and South Dakota have approved so-called "trigger laws" that would ban abortion if Roe is no longer in effect.
In Iowa, the state Supreme Court on June 17 cleared the way for lawmakers to severely limit or ban abortion in the state, reversing a decision by the court four years earlier that guaranteed the right to abortion under the Iowa Constitution. With Republicans in control of the governor's office and both chambers of the Legislature, lawmakers could ban abortion without completing the lengthy process of amending the state constitution if Roe is overturned.
Many physicians in Minnesota are preparing for an influx of women from other states seeking legal abortions if Roe is overturned.
When would this happen?
Clinics in some states are likely to begin closing within days.
Staff writers Emma Nelson and Jessie Van Berkel, the Associated Press and the New York Times contributed to this article. It has been updated.