Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, along with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, held a press conference to address abortion rights in Minnesota and what he calls "extreme" views from his Republican opponent Scott Jensen.
Jensen, who is running alongside former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Matt Birk, has made it clear previously that he only supports abortion if the pregnant woman's life is in danger. When asked by a reporter if Jensen's abortion views are as "extreme as any other Republican in the United States," Walz answered, "Yes, clearly."
"The one thing on this is, there's clarity," the governor said. "This is an extreme position that we're seeing all across the country. You don't need a governor dictating medical practices to providers, especially women."
In a video posted to social media Tuesday, Jensen went away from his previous stance that abortion should be banned even if a female is a rape or incest victim, this time suggesting that possible mental health impacts of rape and incest victims could be considered a danger to a pregnant person's life.
"For me, if the mother's life is in danger, then that's the priority," said Jensen. "To me, rape and incest as considerations would fall within the realm of, 'is the mother's life in danger?' And I think a mother's life can be in danger quite readily without us seeing it, particularly in regard to suicidal ideation and how profound an impact might be occurring. So rather than have a pregnant mom with an unexpected, unplanned pregnancy have to demonstrate or prove that there's rape or incest involved, I think that person should be interfacing with their doctor and they make the decision whether or not this is, if you will, jeopardizing mom's life."
The situation between the two grew more tense when Jensen claimed Walz supports abortion up to 39 weeks pregnant.
"One person's extreme might be another person's moderation," Jensen said. "I think Governor Walz is extreme if he thinks that it's OK to do an abortion in the 39th week of gestation."
That then begs the question: Is Walz really in favor of abortion at 39 weeks gestation?
"No. I respect where law is written now. Let me ask you this: Does that sound believable?" Walz fired back. "You know what is believable? People get raped. You know what is believable? Incest happens. You know what is believable? Pregnancies that go dangerous.
"So no, of course not," he continued. "Not one time have I ever said that. Coming from someone who lied about the election, lied about COVID, is unvaccinated, hell, lied about a cabin I supposedly have ... But I expect nothing different. So no, the answer is very clear: No. I respect law as it's written now and as medical providers have defined. There is not a single word of me every saying so."
Last week, Walz told reporters that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade "doesn't do a damn thing" from preventing abortion. He signed an executive order on Saturday that protects the right to an abortion in Minnesota.
“All it did was make it more dangerous and less accessible, especially to the people who need it," he said. "[The order] states that we will use all authority of this office to decline to extradite people who are charged under other states’ laws that criminalize providing or obtaining reproductive health care services.”
In addition to the executive order, Walz also asked state agencies to not assist with investigations or criminal proceedings stemming from people coming from other states for an abortion. The order also says Minnesota won't extradite those people.
“Minnesotans deserve unbiased medical care given with compassion, not a 'one size fits all' abortion ban,” said Jessika Ralph, Medical Director for Whole Woman’s Health, which is a Minnesota clinic that provides reproductive health care to Minnesota women, including abortion.
"These decisions are best left to patients and their doctors — not elected officials interfering with their human rights.”
Minnesota is likely to become a safe-haven state when it comes to accessing legal abortions in the Upper Midwest. The state's Supreme Court ruled to protect abortion access in 1995 in the Doe v. Gomez case. In addition to ensuring the right to an abortion, the case also allows low-income people to use state assistance money to pay for the procedure.