ST. PAUL — Hundreds of protesters rallied at the Minnesota Capitol on Tuesday, May 21, to oppose restrictions on abortions like those recently considered and signed into law in Alabama and other states.
Reproductive rights advocacy groups, state lawmakers and those who'd experienced abortion procedures spoke at the event and urged state legislators not to restrict abortion access. And for those who introduced or supported similar legislation, protesters said they'd work to vote them out of office.
The demonstration, organized by NARAL Pro-Choice, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and other groups, was part of a national push to stop abortion bans proposed in state Legislatures around the country.
Abortion rights groups have said the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade faces the greatest risk in a generation since President Donald Trump appointed to the court two conservative justices. The Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide.
"We are here to say, 'Not in Minnesota,'" said Andrea Ledger, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. "We will stand up for people seeking abortion care, we will stand up for our remaining abortion clinics. We're going to make sure that people get access to the health care that they want and need."
A Minnesota Senate panel this year approved a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization except in cases of possible death or serious physical harm. The measure was not taken up in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth, said the Minnesota House, which is controlled by Democrats, and the Walz administration were prepared to block abortion ban proposals.
"I am here on behalf of our majority that says, 'No' to what is happening in Alabama and not in this House," Olson said. “We are not going to be a quiet pro-choice majority in the House. We will be loud, loud, loud.”
While the protest was mostly peaceful, confrontations occurred between protesters and abortion opponents who attempted to stand near the podium with faux signs. Demonstration attendees flocked to the steps to block the signs with their own and tore up one of the fake posters.
There appeared to be a scuffle between the abortion opponents and the protesters, but video footage didn't clearly show what happened, Capitol Complex Security Captain Eric Roeske said. The Department of Public Safety is investigating the incident and has not charged or cited anyone in connection to the incident.
National groups that oppose abortion took to social media on Tuesday to respond to the rallies, using the #stopthebans monicker abortion access advocates coined for the events.
"Yes, Banning Abortion Reduces Abortion Rates," Pro-Life Action League wrote on Twitter. "Stop the bans? No. Keep them coming."