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Gov. Tim Walz, challenger Scott Jensen answer questions on abortion

With an election season on the horizon, gubernatorial candidates from Minnesota's two major parties share their thoughts on abortion rights in the state.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's midterm elections are just months away, and following the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion issues are likely to top of mind for some voters.

Right now, abortion is legal in the state of Minnesota. A 1995 ruling in the state's Doe v. Gomez case guaranteed the right to have access to an abortion and further required the state to cover costs for low-income patients. Although SCOTUS has now rescinded federal protections for those seeking abortions, experts say it is unlikely the state ruling would be overturned.

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, DFL Governor Tim Walz tweeted his staunch support of abortion protections: "Your reproductive freedom will remain protected in Minnesota as long as I am in office."

The same day, Walz signed an executive order to protect the state's abortion services from laws in neighboring states, and vowed to reject requests to extradite individuals accused of committing acts related to reproductive health care that are not criminal offenses in the state.

"You don't need a governor dictating medical practices to providers and especially to women," Walz said at a press conference on June 28. "What I worry about is the thumb on the scale on a constitutional amendment that a governor's office could do if they don't take an ethical approach to some of these things. But I don't fear Minnesotans voting on this."

RELATED: How Roe v. Wade being overturned could impact midterm elections in Minnesota

The governor went on to explain that he believes the conversation around abortion rights needs a "reset" that focuses on families making the most personal decision of their lives.

Walz also called his Republican challenger Scott Jensen's position on abortion "extreme."

When asked if he supports an abortion ban with no exceptions, Jensen, who secured the Minnesota GOP's endorsement for governor at the 2022 State Convention in May, told KARE 11 he believes there are exceptions in cases where the mother's life is being endangered.

"I think that's a big exception because it's really up to the patient and the physician to determine what kind of circumstances would indeed put someone's life at risk. When we talk about incest or rape, to me, those are in that realm of if you will, mother's life being endangered," Jensen said.

RELATED: Putting the cost of abortion into perspective

"I think without question we have to have, from my perspective, a recognition that there's two lives involved, the mom and the unborn child. And I think the priority always has to be the mom," he continued.

Dr. Jensen also said he wouldn't use abortion as a litmus test for appointing judges to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Minnesota's primary elections will take place on Aug. 9, 2022, before voters head to the polls for the midterms on Nov. 8, 2022.

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