Skip to main content

Candidatesrespond to Roe v. Wade ruling

election, steele county times, decision 2022
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

In an effort to keep you, our readers, well-informed and abreast of relevant issues, today is the second in a series of questions we are asking all of Steele County’s candidates for state office.

We want voters to know where each candidate stands on the issues so they can make their best decision at the ballot box.

Each week, we’ll ask the candidates a new question. They will all receive the same question, be given a word limit and a deadline of four days to answer. We’ll publish their answers the following Wednesday; responses may be edited for length.

The series will continue through Nov. 2, the last Wednesday before the Nov. 8 general election.

If a candidate doesn’t respond, we’ll note that.

We advise you to ignore the R or DFL behind each name and reflect only on the answers. You might be surprised to find more common ground than you expected. An (i) indicates the incumbent candidate, though with this spring’s redistricting, the district numbers may not align with the seat they’re seeking.

This week, we’re asking about a controversial issue: Last week saw the overturning of the federal abortion law, Roe v. Wade, by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling doesn't make abortion legal, but with access to the procedure no longer deemed a constitutional right, states can now move to ban it. Minnesota has abortion protection laws in place and will likely be one of about 20 states to allow it. Governor Tim Walz has issued an executive order to help protect people seeking or providing abortions in Minnesota from laws in other states.


Question of the Week:

Where do you stand on the issue of abortion, specifically, in Minnesota?


Minnesota House District 19B

Abdulahi Ali Osman – DFL, of Owatonna:

No response

John Petersburg – R (i-24A), of Waseca:

I am pro-life. I believe that I was alive at the point of conception, not some arbitrary time into the future. Whether it is a day after conception or on my 100th birthday, I believe I have a right to live. And that life should be protected from day one. Whereas, Minnesota's abortion law will still be in place, I do think it is appropriate for the legislature to discuss and debate when life begins and the status of our abortion laws. 


Minnesota House District 23A

Peggy Bennett – R (i-27A), of Albert Lea:

As a former teacher, I don’t know how I can be anything but prolife. How could I look into the eyes of my young first-graders and wonder which of them would choose not to be here? All would choose life! I don’t want to see any baby aborted. It hurts me deeply to think of all those lost lives. Which would be the next Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, or Martin Luther King Jr? Every human life has value and potential, from conception to natural death. It’s unimaginable to think there are some who believe it’s okay to kill a baby in the womb up until the time it’s born. I can’t fathom that. I will always stand for life, and I will work toward coming alongside women who are in the heart-wrenching position of an unplanned pregnancy.


Mary Hinnenkamp – DFL, of Albert Lea:

All my life I have been surrounded by good, thoughtful, strong, caring women. Some have experienced unimaginable struggles with poverty, discrimination, and abuse. I believe that we need to respect women and to trust women to make the decisions that determine their own paths. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not prevent most women from having abortions, it will prevent them from having safe, legal ones. Yet poor women without options will be forced to have children that they know they cannot care for because of their life circumstances. Will there be the support they need to provide for those children? For 50 years, there has been a drum beat from the Republican party to cut supports to needy women, to put caps on what a family in need can receive, to cut food stamp and other food programs. I trust women to make the choices they need to make, to be in control of their own lives. I do not want to go back to the days when women lived in fear, controlled by other people who neither cared for nor respected them. I support a woman’s right to choose and will support that in Minnesota.


Minnesota House District 23B

Patricia Mueller – R (i-27B), of Austin:

I am pro-life and believe that life begins at conception. At that point, I believe that life should be protected. However, as a person who was unable to have children and was classified as high-risk for an unsafe pregnancy, I understand how vital it is to protect the life of the mother as well. This is why I have been staunchly against abortion with the exception of physically saving the life of the mother. In this political climate, I find it appalling that stories of pain are used to score points or to shame the other side. Both sides are guilty of this. Abortion is a choice that has long-lasting effects. Many people do support some limitations on abortions. I have supported initiatives that would prohibit abortion after 12 weeks (except to physically save the life of the mother), which is when the majority of abortions take place. I have also supported bills that would prohibit government-funded abortions. I would also like to add that my pro-life stance includes working to support foster care, adoption, and families. I want communities to have resources to help families thrive so that children have the best opportunity to thrive.

Tom Stiehm – DFL, of Austin:

No response


Minnesota Senate District 19

Kate Falvey – DFL, of Faribault:

As a short answer, it is none of my business what anyone chooses to do with their body, especially when it comes to family planning and reproductive health. As a long answer, abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. The way that we accomplish all three of those things is by keeping the procedure legal, making sure the medical staff and clinics that provide the service are exemplary, and educating our citizens completely and correctly about reproductive health. To me, the label “pro-choice” means that I believe that I – and everyone else in this nation – should have the freedom to choose to have an abortion, or not. It is neither my business nor my place to tell you that you should have an abortion, or not. It is most definitely not the government’s business to RESTRICT any of us FROM or COMPEL any of us TO have an abortion, or not. Making personal, medical decisions is a private affair between an individual and anyone whom they consult before they make their decisions, should they wish to consult someone. I support Minnesota’s position on this matter, including Governor Walz’ recent executive order protecting those who come here for the procedure.

John Jasinksi – R (i-24), of Faribault:

No response


Minnesota Senate District 23

Gene Dornink – R (i-27), of Brownsdale:

I first got involved in politics in the late 80s when my wife and I were blessed with our first child. We decided to attend local caucus meetings and educate ourselves on government. The pro-life movement pushed us toward this involvement. Many things change when you have your first child. It didn't look like a choice, but rather an innocent life that deserved protection. From that first caucus 34 years ago to now, we have stood for life both in the political realm and personally. We have been blessed with 12 children and 18 grandchildren. It is difficult to think what life would be like without every one of them. I am proud to be endorsed by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), our state’s largest pro-life organization. Currently, our laws consider an unborn child to be both a life, and not, depending on circumstance. For example, the murder of a pregnant woman would be charged as a double homicide. This legal and moral contradiction demonstrates that changes must be made. I will continue advocating for pro-life policies that support women and save innocent lives. All life is sacred, and I will support it from conception to natural death.


Lisa Hanson – R, of Hayward:

No response


Brandon Lawhead – DFL, of Austin:

The most personal of decisions should be made by individuals, not by the government.


Next week’s question

The ballot for the Minnesota 1st Congressional District special election on Aug. 9 carries the names of two candidates who support the legalization of cannabis, marijuana. In 2014, the state became one of 38 to allow some degree of legalized medical cannabis; in 2021, the law here was expanded to allow medical cannabis patients to smoke “dried raw cannabis.” Surveys indicate the majority of Minnesotans – how big a majority depends on the survey – support legalizing recreational marijuana use, joining 19 states and the District of Columbia.


Where do you stand on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota?

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates