principal pre-Roe statutes prohibited performance of
an abortion upon a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary
to preserve her life, or that of the child with which she [was]
made a woman’s participation in her own abortion a criminal
offense (subject to the same exception). Pursuant
to Roe, § 617.18 was declared unconstitutional in a
pair of decisions by the Minnesota
Court. Both § 617.18
and § 617.19 were repealed in 1974, and
neither would be revived by a decision overruling Roe v.
Wade. Abortions could be performed for any reason before
viability, and for virtually any reason after viability. Regardless
of Roe, any attempt to prohibit abortion (at least before
viability) in Minnesota, even if Roe were overruled,
would be barred by a Minnesota Supreme Court decision recognizing
a fundamental right to abortion on state constitutional grounds
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.18 (West 1971).
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.19 (West 1971). No
prosecutions were reported under this statute.
State v. Hultgren, 204 N.W.2d 197 (Minn. 1973); State
v. Hodgson, 204 N.W.2d 199 (Minn. 1973). Prior to Roe,
a three-judge federal district court dismissed a challenge
to the principal pre-Roe statutes for want of
a justiciable “case or controversy.” Doe v. Randall,
314 F.Supp. 32, 34 (D. Minn. 1970).
Laws 265, 268, ch. 177, § 7.
of its undefined health exception, Minnesota’s post-viability
statute, see Minn.
Stat. Ann. § 145.412 subd. 3 (West 1998), would
not effectively prohibit post-viability abortions. In
interpreting the undefined health exception in the pre-Roe District
of Columbia abortion statute, the Supreme Court held that “the general usage and modern understanding of the word ‘health’ .
. . includes psychological as well as physical well-being.” United
States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62, 72 (1971). See also
Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973) (in determining
whether an abortion is medically necessary, “all factors– physical,
emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant
to the well-being of the patient” may be considered). There
would be few, if any, abortions that could not be justified
on psychological or emotional grounds.
Women of the State of Minnesota v. Gomez, 542 N.W.2d
17, 27 (Minn. 1995) (“the right of privacy under the
Minnesota Constitution encompasses a woman’s right to
decide to terminate her pregnancy”) (striking down restrictions
on public funding of abortion).