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North Dakota’s highest court confirms ruling to maintain injunction on abortion ban



Bismarck, North Dakota – The state’s abortion ban will continue to be unenforceable while a lawsuit challenging its validity, the North Dakota Supreme Court rules.

When the Red River Women’s Clinic sought a lawsuit, alleging that the state constitution protected a right to an abortion, South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick had suspended the trigger law that would have prohibited abortion last summer.

The sole abortion facility in the state closed its doors last summer and relocated to Moorhead.

Minnesota still permits legal abortions.

Romanick admitted that the clinic had moved to Moorhead when he stopped the law’s implementation, but he also pointed out that doctors’ offices and hospitals would still be impacted.

A doctor who performs an abortion would be prosecuted with a felony under the law and would need to demonstrate that the procedure was carried out to save the mother’s life in circumstances of either rape or incest.

Despite arguments from supporters that abortion is a common component of maternal healthcare, the proprietor of the Red River Women’s Clinic is still pursuing the lawsuit.

“That prohibition on a person’s ability to protect their health is a violation of their constitutional rights and the court validly recognizes that under the North Dakota constitution, a person has a fundamental right to life and that includes the right to seek an abortion to preserve their life and health,” said Autumn Katz, the Interim Director of U.S. Litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In a statement, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley says the state Supreme Court appears to have taken “the role of a legislative body, a role our constitution does not afford them.”

Lawyers for the clinic say the ban and its rules on affirmative defenses may make doctors hesitant “from performing abortions even in a life-threatening situation.”

“I think it is important to recognize the court itself looked to some other states that have similarly recognized constitutional protections. Red River Women’s Clinic is really glad that the court recognized and understood the real-world impacts that an abortion ban can have on patients who do need that healthcare,” Katz said.

According to Wrigley, the legislature has been working on legislation to reform North Dakota’s abortion regulations for the previous two months.

The Right to Life of North Dakota declined to comment.

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