By Nancy Flanders
A small town in Minnesota is considering an ordinance that would allow residents to sue abortionists — despite the fact that there is no abortion facility in the town.
The Star Tribune reported that the city of Prinsburg — population 500 — will review an ordinance that would allow residents to file lawsuits against abortionists and against companies that distribute the abortion pill by mail. The first public hearing regarding the ordinance was held during a City Council meeting last week. The ordinance is based on the Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect in September 2021 and has survived all legal challenges. A Texas lawyer who helped pen that law, Jonathan Mitchell, is working on the Prinsburg ordinance with Pro-Life Action Ministries of St. Paul. Prinsburg officials hope that it’s an idea that will spread across the state.
“This is not just an impulse,” said Tim Miller a legislator representing the area who is stepping down to help enact the ordinance and others like it. “This is in God’s timing. We need to start somewhere [and] we will be working to pass ordinances in other communities.”
He said the ordinance aims to stop abortion and “the animals who tell [women] that’s OK and profit from it.”
The mayor of Prinsburg, Roger Ahrenholz, is in support of the ordinance. He said, “The Prinsburg community, and surrounding area, is very much a pro-life community. Thus, when Mr. Tim Miller approached the city council about adopting this ordinance, the council decided to consider it.”
Emily Bisek, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, is already making plans to fight the ordinance if it does pass. “If this passes, we will of course look at it very seriously and figure out what comes next,” she said. “The people in Prinsburg deserve to have access to sexual and reproductive health care.”
The Minnesota Supreme Court claims abortion is a right protected by the state’s Constitution, and in July, Judge Thomas Gilligan struck down the state’s 24-hour abortion waiting period, two-parent abortion notification law for minors, a provision that said only doctors can commit abortions, a provision requiring the disclosure of certain medical information prior to an abortion, and the requirement that all abortions after the first trimester be committed in a hospital. The state’s Attorney General Keith Ellison refused to appeal that ruling.