Opponents rally on anniversary of legal abortion

Opponents of abortion held their annual March for Life at the Minnesota Capitol, facing a tougher landscape this year to enacting laws restricting the procedure. Brian Bakst | MPR News

Abortion opponents rallied Tuesday at the Minnesota Capitol to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade court decision that legalized abortion, and they acknowledged they face new obstacles to enacting restrictions on the procedure.

Robyn Swiderski of the group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) told the bundled-up crowd to lobby for a bill requiring doctors to make ultrasound pictures available to women before abortions.

“Will you help these unborn children?” she asked the crowd that spilled from the Capitol’s front steps onto the snow-covered mall. “Will you keep working towards allowing the truth to shine in the darkness? We can do this together. We must keep fighting for the very lives of these innocent ones.”

An MCCL-backed ultrasound bill was passed by the Legislature last year, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it.

Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt told the annual March for Life that it’s up to the Republican-led state Senate to play defense this year. Democrats who support abortion rights won a majority in the House in November.

“And while we no longer have a pro-life majority in the Minnesota House, I know that we can count on Senator Gazelka and a Senate majority that is pro-life to stand strong and prevent any bills from getting to the governor’s desk that would promote abortion,” Daudt said.

Dayton’s DFL successor, Gov. Tim Walz, also is on record opposing new restrictions on access to abortion.

Daudt said abortion opponents must work hard to elect a governor on their side if they want to advance their cause.

“I have faith that with your help eventually our state and our country will wake up to the horrors of abortion, and finally agree that life in all forms deserves protection,” he said.

A bill introduced at the Capitol Tuesday by Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, would make abortion illegal after six weeks, drawing a sharp response from the regional director of Planned Parenthood’s political arm.

“Make no mistake, the bill introduced today is a serious attack on Minnesota women’s health and safety,” said Sarah Stoesz, president of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund. “It bans abortion before most women even know they are pregnant and is fundamentally out of touch with the people of our state. The majority of Minnesotans believe women need access to safe and legal abortion so they can decide what’s best for their health and for their families, without interference from politicians.”

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