Minnesota Abortion Laws: November Election Brings the Abortion Issue Center Stage

Editor's Note: With 24 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on Illinois, Iowa, WisconsinMississippiMichiganIndiana, AlabamaOhioFloridaGeorgiaD.C.South Carolina, North CarolinaVirginia, MarylandPennsylvania, DelawareNew JerseyNew York, ConnecticutVermontMassachusetts, Rhode IslandMaine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!

Minnesota

Someone’s gotta say it: Governor Mark Dayton (D-MN) is one of the greatest things to happen to upper Midwestern politics, alongside Keith Ellison, Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, and, er, Walter Mondale.

Why do I make such broad claims about the stalwart governor of the North Star state?

Over the past two legislative sessions, he has vetoed bills that would have: “required doctors to be physically present for the prescribing, as well as taking, of emergency contraceptive pills” thus effectively banning telemedicine (which is legal in Minnesota); required clinics providing abortions to be licensed; restricted post-20 week abortions based on unsupported “fetal pain” theories; and banned public funding. Minnesota’s current regulations include state-directed counseling, a 24-hour waiting period, and parental notification.

With these bills coming down to a veto, it seems Dayton’s politics are at odds with much of his legislature’s. The Minnesota Senate is currently split 37 Republican against 30 Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) seats. The House stands at 72 Republican against 61 DFL seats. Minnesota is a big rural state with scary anti-abortion billboards and a huge metropolis (or two metropoleis?) pushing it towards the blue end of the spectrum. That said, it is expected to go strongly for Obama in November, and with such close numbers in the state House and Senate, the balance there could shift.

Voters in Minnesota will also have to contend with the rantings of one Islamophobic congressional candidate Gary Boisclair (R) (his website looks EXACTLY like Andrew Beacham’s ... curious), a West Virginia resident who is challenging Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) Congressional seat on the grounds of Ellison’s religion and pro-choice voting record. Boisclair will be one of the lovely gents this election season running needlessly graphic and offensive campaign ads. Ellison shouldn’t be concerned about his seat, but television viewers in Minnesota should be concerned about their eyeballs and stomachs. YouTube has apparently already pulled his videos, but you can watch them on his website if you’re so inclined.

I realize it’s a different district, but Bachmann is sounding pretty good right about now with her ultrasounds and her declarations that Obama is putting abortion pills in the bubblegum aisle (is that a thing? I want to go to THAT drugstore!), isn’t she. She’ll be challenged by Democrat Jim Graves for her 6th district seat.