Fact Check: Anti-Jensen abortion ad quotes him accurately, but he's shifted his stance

A television ad attacking Republican candidate for Minnesota governor Scott Jensen accurately quotes Jensen's comments on abortion from earlier this year, though Jensen has shifted his position in recent weeks.

A Better Minnesota, a liberal group that supports Minnesota DFL candidates, says it's spending at least $1 million to run the anti-Jensen abortion ad on Minnesota TV stations and online. The ad starts with dramatic music and an audio clip of Jensen from a March 18 interview on Minnesota Public Radio.

"I would try to ban abortion," Jensen said, answering the interviewer's question about whether, as governor, Jensen would try to impose new restrictions on abortion or attempt to ban it outright.

The rest of the ad features women who criticize Jensen's position as "extreme."

What Jensen said

The ad accurately quotes Jensen from the interview, though it includes only a snippet of his answer.

"I think that we're basically in a situation where we should be governed by pro-life. There is no reason for us to be having abortions going on," Jensen went on to say. "We have tremendous opportunities and availability of birth control. We don't need to be snuffing out lives that if left alone will produce a viable newborn, that may go on to be the next Albert Einstein."

At the time, Jensen was running in a crowded Republican field for the GOP's endorsement, which he ultimately won in May at the Republican state convention.

Jensen clarifies his position

Abortion become a central issue in this year's midterm elections when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and left abortion laws up to each state.

In Minnesota, abortion will remain legal because of a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that said abortion was protected in the state constitution. Only a constitutional amendment -- approved by the state Legislature and voters -- or the state Supreme Court could change that. Neither is likely to happen soon.

As he appeals to general election voters, Jensen has amended his position. In a July 29 campaign video, Jensen called his previous comments "clumsy" and said he would support exceptions to a ban.

"If I’ve been unclear previously, I want to be clear now," he said. "Rape and incest along with endangering the mother’s mental or physical health are acceptable exceptions."

Walz's position

DFL Gov. Tim Walz has made his own support of abortion rights central to his re-election bid. That has led to criticism from Jensen, who has accused Walz of supporting abortion until the moment of birth.

When a reporter asked Walz in June if he supports late-term abortions, the governor bristled at the question.

"No, of course not," Walz said. "I have been in this office. I have done a thousand of these (news conferences) as a member of Congress and governor. Not one time have I ever said that."

Walz's campaign has said the governor supports late-term abortions only to protect the life or health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest.

Such abortions are rare. In 2021, Minnesota providers performed one abortion on a fetus between 25 and 30 weeks and none on fetuses over 30 weeks of gestation, according to Minnesota Department of Health data.

That year, providers performed 10,136 abortions, 84 percent of which came before 11 weeks of gestation.