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Minnesota abortion clinics prepare for influx of women from other states

Planned Parenthood North Central States president Sarah Stoesz anticipates "perhaps 25 percent more patients."

ST PAUL, Minn. — As we wait to learn whether the Supreme Court will indeed overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics in Minnesota are preparing for an influx of women from other states. Planned Parenthood North Central States president and CEO Sarah Stoesz went on the record Wednesday saying, if overturned, Minnesota would be a "haven" and "safe place" for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. 

"Wisconsin's pre-Roe ban would go into effect," Stoesz said. "In Iowa, legislators and the governor are seeking to curtail abortion access there … Therefore, people would be coming into Minnesota for abortion care."

13 states already have "trigger bans" in place, including North and South Dakota. Meaning, if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark case, abortion would be banned almost immediately in those states.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, facilities offering abortions in Minnesota include Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, Robbinsdale Clinic, Whole Women's Health LLC, Women's Health Center, and 13 independent physicians. The data shows abortions occurred 9,108 times at the listed facilities in 2020. 

"We have been fortifying our delivery system for some time now so that we can be ready to welcome what we think could be anywhere up to maybe perhaps 25 percent more patients," Stoesz said. "We don't really know. There are a number of models that we've been studying and working on to try to predict what kind of infrastructure we need to build. So consequently we are building it out to be able to welcome as many people as we can from other states. That's our obligation and we're proud to do it."

Stoesz shared the virtual press conference screen with Attorney General Keith Ellison. He emphasized that abortion will remain legal in Minnesota. 

"The right to abortion and to make your own reproductive health care decisions is protected by the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court Decision called the Gomez case," Ellison said.

Governor Tim Walz also released a statement Wednesday promising to protect abortion rights. “Let me be clear: there will never be an abortion ban in Minnesota under my watch," Walz said.

Back on the call, Ellison questioned how other states would enforce their laws.

"Are we going to be seeing arrests and convictions of women who choose to end a pregnancy? What if they get an abortion in Minnesota and go back to Texas? Will that constitute a crime in Texas? I mean, these are questions that need to be answered, we thought were settled," he said.

"Not only would that person be prosecuted but also our doctors and, you know, anyone who helped her," Stoesz added. "It remains to be seen if something like that would be upheld by the United States Supreme Court."

Illinois, New York, California, and Colorado could also become so-called islands or safe havens where women travel to get abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.