ST. PAUL (AP) -- The next session of the Legislature could bring in a new era of abortion politics in Minnesota.
For the first time since the 1960s, both the state House and Senate are dominated by members who support restrictions on abortions and an abortion foe, Republican Tim Pawlenty, will be governor.
In the most recent session, only the House was controlled by those favoring abortion restrictions. And Gov. Jesse Ventura has been a staunch defender of abortion rights.
These dynamics have abortion foes preparing for a busy session. And abortion rights activists are preparing to go to court to stop them.
"We're happy to have a clear pro-life mandate," said Marice Rosenberg, vice president of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. "It's time to allow some of this legislation to move."
Tim Stanley, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, said the MCCL will have carte blanche to push its agenda.
"They won the jackpot," he said. "No doubt about it."
If abortion-rights supporters lose in the statehouse, he said, expect them to take the fight to the courthouse.
"Minnesota has not been a stranger to Supreme Court challenges of abortion laws," Stanley said. "We will do it again if that's what it takes to preserve reproductive rights in this state."
Rosenberg said abortion opponents picked up five seats in the Senate and 10 in the House. While the Senate is still in DFL hands, abortion opponents now make up the majority.
Abortion has been a controversial issue in the Legislature for years. Bills to change access to abortions, or to ban funding for health organizations with ties to them, surface each session.
The abortion measures have bogged down major budget bills, sparked emotional rallies at the Capitol and made or broken legislators' political careers.
Abortion foes look forward to the new political landscape. But they're not predicting that abortion legislation will fly to the governor's desk.
"I don't think there has to be a rush; there will be a whole five months to deal with these issues," said Rep. Lynda Boudreau, R-Faribault. "We can make sure all the issues will be heard."
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