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2022 Attorneys of the Year: Dr. Jane Doe et al vs. State of Minnesota et al

Frank Jossi//February 16, 2023

Amanda Allen (left) and Jess Braverman

Amanda Allen (left) and Jess Braverman

2022 Attorneys of the Year: Dr. Jane Doe et al vs. State of Minnesota et al

Frank Jossi//February 16, 2023

During a year when the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and made it more difficult for women to get abortions, a Ramsey County District Court moved in the opposite direction.

The court found Minnesota’s abortion restrictions unconstitutional, eliminating 24-hour delays, bars on qualified nonphysicians providing abortions, mandatory two-parent notification, and criminal penalties associated with the procedure.

Gender Justice, an organization focused on gender and equity, brought the case with co-counsel The Lawyering Project, including its senior counsel and director, Amanda Allen. Two private plaintiffs joined the First Unitarian Society and Our Justice in pursuing the case. Gender Justice legal director Jess Braverman said the verdict came because, as the district court recognized, the Minnesota Supreme Court has already ruled that Minnesota’s constitution offers greater protections of rights than the federal constitution, especially regarding abortion.

“Many of the restrictions on the books we challenged are really old and outdated,” Braverman said. “They’re not keeping up with medical advancements and they’re not designed to protect the patient. They just put obstacles in the way for people needing abortion care.”

The attorney general’s office decided against an appeal, likely after weighing the chances of success. Braverman noted that the case took three years of litigation, and that the court’s decision would not be easily overturned based on the Minnesota Constituion’s strong protections.

The Legislature may have enshrined abortion rights in law this session, but Braverman wants lawmakers to repeal unconstitutional abortion-related laws. “I think the more important step the Legislature can take is to clean up our statutes to reflect the state of the law,” she said.

Braverman highlighted the work of her colleague Christy Hall in assisting with the case. Gender Justice continues to work on similar disputes, such as one testing whether pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill emergency contraception prescriptions.

The district court verdict still resonates. “It was a big win that everyone needed in the moment and had an immediate impact on people’s ability to get this care,” Braverman said.

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.

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