December 15, 2021 | Press Release
MINNEAPOLIS — Twenty-six years ago today, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution requires abortion-on-demand and public funding of abortion. The Doe v. Gomez decision would continue to impose this policy even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that struck down laws protecting unborn children nationwide.
“Doe v. Gomez was an extreme and unconstitutional decision,” says MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Although Minnesota has still been able to enact some lifesaving and woman-empowering laws, such as our Woman’s Right to Know and Positive Alternatives laws, Gomez severely restricts what Minnesotans and their elected officials are allowed to do—even though our state Constitution nowhere mandates unfettered and tax-funded abortion.”
Minnesota law previously prohibited Medicaid funding of elective abortions. But a Hennepin County District Court judge struck down that measure in 1994, and the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling in its Dec. 15, 1995, Doe v. Gomez decision. Gomez claimed a very broad “right” to abortion in the Minnesota Constitution, and ruled that if the state’s Medicaid program covers childbirth, it must cover abortion as well.
In 2019 (the latest year for which data is available), according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, taxpayers bankrolled a record-high 4,463 abortions at a cost of $1.1 million. Planned Parenthood accounted for a record-high 2,791 of those abortions—a startling jump of 222 percent since 2011. A large body of research, including a literature review by the Guttmacher Institute, shows that public funding of abortion leads to significantly more overall abortions than would otherwise take place.
“We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade in its current Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case,” says Fischbach. “But Gomez will still be an obstacle in Minnesota. The Minnesota Supreme Court should stop treating the destruction of unborn humans as a public good. We will continue our work to advance protection for unborn children and their mothers—until the human rights of all human beings are protected by law.”
In her dissenting opinion in the Gomez case, Justice Mary Jeanne Coyne blasted the majority for “abandon[ing] all vestige of neutrality” and “frankly extol[ling] abortion as a positive good and the cure for all the ills from which a pregnant woman could possibly suffer.” She wrote, “There is a very significant difference between a right to decide to terminate a pregnancy by abortion … and a right to compel the state to pay for the abortion.”
MCCL has frequently pursued legislation that would prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion. Such legislation passed through the Legislature in 2011 and 2017, but then-Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed both bills.