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Walz takes aim at Jensen on abortion access, proposed lack of exceptions for rape, incest

During a news conference on Tuesday, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said voters would have a large say in future access to abortion in Minnesota and asked them to back his reelection bid.

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Protesters gather outside the federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis Friday evening, June 24, 2022, following a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took aim at his Republican opponent on Tuesday, June 28, saying that GOP candidate Scott Jensen's views on abortion were out of step with public opinion in the state and could cause harm to those seeking an abortion.

Days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal constitutional right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor held a news conference to highlight the differences between his position on abortion policy and that of Jensen.

Flanked by an abortion provider, patient and supporters of legal abortion, Walz said abortion access would largely be in the hands of voters come November when they cast their ballots in the governor's race. And he urged them to consider the candidate that would keep patients' lives in mind.

"The stakes are clear and they could not be higher. The governor's office is now the last line of defense against an abortion ban in Minnesota," Walz said. "If my opponent Scott Jensen is elected, those rights are gone."

Jensen in the wake of the court's decision has said that he supports banning abortion procedures in almost all instances, including in cases of rape or incest.

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"Let's have the conversation and debate," Jensen said Tuesday on Twitter. "We have a lot to talk about anyway, governor."

Jensen also alleged that Walz supported abortion access into the ninth month of pregnancy. Walz on Tuesday said that was not the case and said he supported current laws and would listen to physicians and patients about possible changes.

The Minnesota Republican Party leaders on Tuesday said it would "continue working to elect candidates who will protect life and support Minnesota mothers and families."

The top priority for Minnesota anti-abortion groups following the overturning of Roe v. Wade is winning elections in November. But even with the state Legislature and governor's office, passing sweeping bans could be a far reach.

The governor's office could hold a key role in reshaping the future of abortion access or lack thereof in Minnesota since a governor could sign or veto legislation impacting abortion access. The governor could also appoint justices to the Minnesota Supreme Court that could uphold the state's constitutional protection of abortion under the 1995 Doe v. Gomez case or block it.

Abortion providers and advocates for maintaining legal access to abortion in Minnesota said the state expected an influx of patients from neighboring states after trigger laws took effect there, banning or seriously limiting access to the services. And they urged a different approach from Minnesota leaders.

"Pregnancy can be risky and abortion is often a part of caring for pregnant people," said Dr. Jessika Ralph, medical director of reproductive health clinic Whole Woman's Health. "Pregnant people deserve unbiased medical care given with compassion and not a one-size-fits-all abortion ban that does not accommodate the nuance of decisions about family and pregnancy."

MORE FROM DANA FERGUSON:
Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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