Attorney Teresa Collett discusses the effort to intervene in the case during a September 2022 press conference. (Alpha News)

The Minnesota Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by a group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support (MOMS), which sought to intervene in the ruling of the Ramsey County District Court in the 2022 case Dr. Jane Doe, et al. v. State of Minnesota.  In that case, the court struck down Minnesota’s remaining abortion restrictions, including a requirement that practitioners give parents notice before performing an abortion on a minor.

In the aftermath of the ruling, most of Minnesota’s former abortion restrictions were officially removed from the statutes during the state’s 2023 legislative session. However, one precondition that remained on the books was the parental notification requirement. This requirement became MOMS’ primary object of focus in its attempts to secure an intervention in the case.

After District Court Judge Thomas Gilligan’s ruling, MOMS filed a response arguing that the group had legal standing to intervene on the grounds that Gilligan’s ruling represented a violation of parental rights. In the wake of Gilligan’s decision, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison refused to file an appeal, arguing that it was “unlikely to prevail.” For MOMS’ attorney Teresa Collett, Ellison’s refusal to appeal Gilligan’s ruling was a failure in his “duty to defend state law.”

However, MOMS’ request for intervention was ultimately denied by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in February. The court claimed that MOMS had to meet four requirements in order to bring about an intervention, and, “because we conclude that MOMS failed to make a timely application to intervene in the action, and because MOMS must satisfy all four requirements, that is where we begin, and end, our analysis.” MOMS appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which declined to reconsider the appeals court ruling.

In the wake of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s response, Collett issued a statement. “My client and I are gravely disappointed that Minnesota courts have denied parents the opportunity to defend their rights to participate in health decisions involving their children, particularly when government officials charged with protecting those rights failed to do so,” Collett declared. “As the trial court found repeatedly, the Minnesota Attorney General and other state officials presented no evidence on the need for and value of parental involvement laws. The rights of parents should not be a partisan issue and we are considering how best to respond.”

MOMS plaintiff Jessica Chastek echoed Collett’s sentiments, stating that, “last week’s decision to lock Minnesota MOMS out of court is shameful. When the attorney general refuses to defend a law, citizens with concrete legal interests should be allowed to intervene to protect their rights — in this case their right to be involved in important decisions about their daughter’s health and well-being. This case sets a terrible precedent that the courthouse door is open only to favored causes and activist groups.”


Evan Poellinger

Evan Poellinger, the Alpha News Summer 2024 Journalism Fellow, is a native Minnesotan with a lifelong passion for history and politics. He previously worked as a journalism intern with the American Spectator and an investigative journalism fellow with the Media Research Center. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross with degrees in political science and history.

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