What's next for abortion rights in Minnesota?

As those for and against abortion take to Twin Cities streets to make their voices heard, conversations are turning towards what the future may hold for abortion rights in Minnesota. 

It's been nearly 30 years since abortion became a protected right under a 1995 State Supreme Court decision in the case of Doe vs. Gomez that centered on the use of public funds for terminating a pregnancy. 

But Hamline University professor David Schultz believes that decision could leave the door open for more abortion restrictions to be passed. 

"That decision didn't fully flesh out what that right to an abortion really meant. I think it relied upon the fact that Roe vs. Wade was still out there...the basic framework of Roe was there. Take Roe vs. Wade away and it's not clear what Doe vs. Gomez actually protects at this point," said Schultz. 

Schulz continued:

"Roe vs. Wade wasn't overturned in one fell swoop. Over a 50-year period, it was kind of chiseled away...even if the Minnesota Supreme Court didn't overturn Roe vs. Gomez, there's still a lot of things that could happen in terms of regulation of abortion in Minnesota," he said.  

Minnesota already has laws regulating abortions on the books, like a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and parental notification for minors. 

What happens next will largely depend on who has control of the Governor's Office, the Minnesota Legislature, and the Attorney General's Office come next year. The makeup of the State Supreme Court could also play a role, with two seats on the ballot in November. 

"We are going to start to see more scrutiny and more focus on who the justices are on the court than we have in the past," said Schultz, who points to a recent situation in Iowa, where in 2010, voters ousted the three justices who made same-sex marriage legal in the state. 

 But some steps are being taken to strengthen abortion rights here with the Protect Reproductive Options or PRO Act introduced in the legislature. 

 "This really would prevent the state from enforcing many of the provisions on the books right now (like the 24-hour waiting period)," said Mitchell Hamline School of Law professor Laura Hermer. 

The bill would also make it so a fetus or embryo doesn't have independent rights under the law.