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  • Paul Stark

The tide is turning toward life: How the abortion-up-to-birth constitutional amendment stalled in Minnesota

The tide is beginning to turn in favor of unborn babies and their moms. 


Since the historic Dobbs v. Jackson decision empowered states to protect unborn children, the pro-life movement has suffered a string of losses in ballot referenda. Abortion advocates have spent millions and millions to (mis)frame the issue, obscure the facts, and sway the public. But pro-lifers never give up, and we have truth and love on our side. 


Earlier this year, the New Hampshire legislature rejected an effort to enshrine abortion in the state Constitution. Then, in Maine, a similar effort failed in the state House, which couldn’t come up with the needed votes.  


Now, here in Minnesota, we’re seeing Minnesotans push back against the sweeping no-limits abortion agenda advanced by the governor and House and Senate leadership. Abortion supporters control all three, and last year they used that power to ram through an abortion-up-to-birth law while repealing numerous longstanding pro-life policies.  


This year, they wanted to go even further. They wanted to make unfettered abortion a permanent mandate in our Constitution. Future lawmakers would be powerless to protect unborn children—even viable babies late in pregnancy. 


For MCCL and the rest of Minnesota’s pro-life movement, stopping a constitutional amendment became the top priority. The problem? Too many Minnesotans didn’t know what lawmakers had already done—and what they now wanted to do.  


Here’s what MCCL did. Immediately after last year’s session, we began taking steps to prepare for a constitutional amendment battle. We held meetings across the state last summer, fall, and winter to educate, motivate, and equip pro-lifers to make a difference. Our annual March for Life in January spotlighted Minnesota’s extreme policy and the sharp increase we’ve seen in the number of abortions. 


Then the 2024 legislative session began. Rather than offer the abortion amendment on its own, pro-abortion lawmakers added it to the so-called “Equal Rights Amendment,” disguising unlimited abortion in the language of “equal rights” and mixing it with other controversial issues. Legislative leaders touted the ERA as a priority this session. Supporters were confident it would pass through the legislature. 


It did not.  


Why not? Because pro-lifers went on offense. MCCL’s “Way Out There” TV ad effectively showed the extremism of Minnesota’s current law—and how lawmakers now want to make it permanent. Calls flooded into the legislature. Minnesota’s major mainstream media outlets covered our campaign, even confirming that our claims were true.  


But MCCL didn't stop there. We ran newspaper, radio, and social media ads, especially in targeted areas. We sent mass emails and letters. We informed and mobilized voters across the state. And Minnesotans stepped up by contacting legislators, sharing with their neighbors, attending rallies, and more. 


All this made a difference. As the session neared its end, a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found that 64 percent of Minnesotans didn’t want abortion added to the ERA. And a majority said they opposed the abortion-up-to-birth status quo. 


More and more Minnesotans were understanding the truth and speaking out. And the legislature was feeling the pressure.  


In the end, the House did push through the ERA (after days of debate and pushback from valiant pro-life lawmakers), but it never even came up for a vote in the Senate. For now, at least, the effort to enshrine unlimited abortion in our Constitution has been stopped. 


The battle for life—the battle to change hearts and minds and to restore protection for the innocent—will continue both in Minnesota and across the country. But it’s a battle we know we can win. 

This article appears in the June 2024 issue of NRL News.


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