Abortion ban injunction upheld by ND Supreme Court
BISMARCK, N.D. (KVRR) — The North Dakota Supreme Court rules that a state abortion ban will remain blocked while a lawsuit over its legality proceeds.
South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick had put the trigger law that would ban abortion on hold last summer while the Red River Women’s Clinic pursued a lawsuit arguing the state constitution protected a right to an abortion.
The state’s only abortion clinic shut its doors last summer and moved across the border to Moorhead.
Abortion remains legal in Minnesota.
When Romanick blocked the law from taking effect, he acknowledged the clinic moved to Moorhead but noted doctors and hospitals would still be affected.
Under the law, a doctor who performs an abortion would be charged with a felony and would have to prove the procedure was done in cases of either rape or incest to save the mother’s life.
The owner of the Red River Women’s Clinic still pursues the lawsuit as supporters say abortion is a standard part of maternal healthcare.
“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.
Wrigley says the legislature has spent the past two months working on legislation that recrafts North Dakota’s abortion laws.
The North Dakota Right to Life declined to comment.