Ellison won’t appeal ruling overturning abortion restrictions

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office won’t challenge a recent ruling that struck down many state abortion restrictions, including 24-hour waiting period, informed consent and parental notification requirements.

Ellison’s decision comes more than two weeks after a district court judge ruled many state laws restricting abortion access were unconstitutional, immediately blocking their enforcement. By not appealing, Ellison’s move will ensure expanded access to abortion in Minnesota, now a haven for the procedure in the Midwest following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“I must consider the broad public interest in deciding whether to appeal any court outcome, including rulings related to the constitutionality of state laws,” Ellison said in a lengthy statement about his decision. “The public interest includes a number of factors, including the likelihood of success of an appeal, the proper and careful use of state resources, the impact on other areas of state law, and the public’s need for finality.”

In his 140-page ruling, Ramsey District Judge Thomas Gilligan cited the 1995 state Supreme Court ruling in Doe v. Gomez, which found abortion access was a constitutional right. Ellison said he thought it was “unlikely” the state would get a different result if they appealed.

Ellison’s office has been in litigation in the case, known as Doe v. Minnesota, for more than three years, after abortion rights groups sued to try and cancel more than a dozen restrictions in one fell swoop.

After the ruling, Ellison’s office said he’d review what the judge wrote and decide whether to appeal within the 60-day window required under law. Gov. Tim Walz, listed as a defendant in the case, has said the ruling was “clear” and wouldn’t ask Ellison to appeal.

A first-term DFL attorney general, Ellison is facing re-election in the fall. Abortion access has become a top issue in his campaign for re-election, with Ellison vowing to defend women traveling to Minnesota to seek abortions.

“I have made clear throughout that my personal view has been that the challenged laws were not good public policy. I have nonetheless vigorously defended those laws,” Ellison said in his statement.

The top two GOP candidates for attorney general — Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow — have criticized Ellison and the ruling and said they would appeal if they held the job.

Gilligan’s ruling immediately blocked restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period between consulting with a physician and getting an abortion, as well as a two-parent notification requirement for patients younger than 18.

He also blocked an informed consent requirement to get the procedure and a law requiring that abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital. The ruling undid a mandate that only physicians can perform abortions, including medication abortions, which abortion providers say will dramatically expand access in the state.

The judge upheld state requirements for physicians to report certain information to the state on abortions they provide, although he eliminated criminal penalties related to noncompliance.