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Gray views on ruling from local, state officials

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

While much of the abortion debate has been binary either for or against, local municipal and state officials and congressional candidates contacted for comment Friday offered a mixed collection of views.

Sleepy Eye Mayor Wayne Pelzel said his opinion has always been abortion should be left up to the individual states.

“I think this is where it belonged in the very beginning,” Pelzel said. “I think it’ll create a lot of political controversy across the country. No question about that.”

Asked if he was concerned that an overturn of Roe V. Wade could create further shortages with more unplanned children requiring day care, New Ulm Mayor Terry Sveine said the connection had not occurred to him, but he believed it would affect the day care crisis in a negative way.

Recently, Sveine and other local officials have been addressing the day care shortage facing New Ulm, an issue that is impacting all of Minnesota.

He recalled being in 12th grade when Roe v. Wade became law. He was only one of two people in his class who supported the ruling, and he received negative feedback from his classmates and teachers.

Sevine added that he never took a strong stance on either side of the issue.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was right to return this decision to the states and elected officials. Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision in 1973,” said Brad Finstad of New Ulm, the Republican candidate in the special election in the 1st Congressional District. “Important policies like protecting the lives of unborn babies should be decided by elected representatives accountable to voters in their communities.”

“Ultimately I believe today’s ruling will bring about a better future for our country, one that honors life and elevates the critical importance of protecting the helpless and vulnerable,” Finstad said. “In Congress, I will work to protect life and fight for the unborn.”

State District 16B Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said the Supreme Court’s decision made Friday an exciting day.

“I’d like to congratulate the many activists for all their work at places like the county fair over the years,” Torkelson said. “I believe the Supreme Court made the correct decision. We have very strong pro-life values in southwestern Minnesota. I would like to thank all pro-life citizens who made their voices heard. Their efforts to save lives finally paid off.”

Although his website proclaimed him to be “fully pro-life,” Tom Kuster of New Ulm, Torkelson’s Democratic opponent, said a majority of the 6-3 majority of justices were not truthful during their confirmation hearings in claiming they would not overturn the Roe decision.

“Several Supreme Court justices lied to get on the court,” Kuster said. “We’ll have to adjust to this.”

To Kuster, adjusting meant providing health care and adequate ongoing support for mothers and babies after they are born.

“The best way is to more of what we should have done all along,” he said. “We need to take care of mothers’ children right after they’re born with robust programs. We need to help families that considered abortion but didn’t do it. We need to keep abortion as infrequent as possible.”

Kuster said legally banning abortions will not stop all abortions, and that extending legal “personhood” to the earliest moment of fertilization is an imposition of a religious view that violates the First Amendment.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz stated he intends to uphold abortion rights, even as the Minnesota gubernatorial election comes in November. Walz has pledged to veto an abortion ban if one is sent to his desk.

“Reproductive rights are on the ballot in November, and the stakes could not be higher,” Walz said. “The governor’s office is now the last line of defense against an abortion ban in Minnesota.

“My opponent has pledged to use this decision to ban abortion without exceptions for rape and incest. This is my pledge: Not on my watch.”

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