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Judge Nixes Law on Doctor Credentials for Abortion - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Judge Nixes Law on Doctor Credentials for Abortion

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UPDATE

A law that could have closed down the Red River Women's Clinic was blocked in court on Wednesday. Four new abortion laws in North Dakota were set to go into effect on August 1, but just one day prior, on July 21, one took center stage.

Judge Wickham Corwin issued his opinion on the bill that would have required doctors to have admitting rights and staff rights at a hospital within a 30 mile radius.  Judge Corwin said what he heard in court on Wednesday wouldn't change an opinion he had already prepared prior to the hearing.

July 31, 2013 marked a special day for the Red River Women's Clinic for two reasons. "It's a little ironic," clinic director Tammy Kromenaker explains. "Today is actually Red River Women's Clinic's 15th Anniversary. We opened our doors on July 31, 1998."

The other deals with the future of the women's clinic. "The right to abortion is constitutional in the state of North Dakota, and that all of these bills including Senate Bill 2305 are wrong headed," Kromenaker said.

Chants echoed outside the courthouse on Wednesday hoping the judge would side with them, and many other groups across the nation.

In the courtroom, Judge Corwin heard arguments from both sides of the issue before issuing his decision to grant a temporary injunction stating reasons like:

  • The North Dakota state constitution says women have the right to end a pregnancy before a fetus can survive on its own
  • The risk of complications with abortions in Fargo are so low, only one hospitalization has happened
  • Fargo is the only provider in the state for abortions, which would greatly impact women's health if it was closed.

Pro-life groups disagree but say they are not surprised by the ruling. "We know from his past decisions that he has espoused an extreme pro-abortion position even going to the point of single-handedly finding state constitutional right to abortion," says Rachelle Sauvageau, Respect Life Director with the Diocese of Fargo.

Sauvageau says North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehgem also doesn't agree with Corwin's position and they all look forward to seeing the North Dakota Supreme Court uphold laws passed by state lawmakers and signed by Governor Jack Dalrymple.

For now, however, the doors at the Red River Women's Clinic remain open, and both sides await trial.  A date has not been determined for the trial, but Judge Corwin would like to have it within the next six months.  The block on the law will be good through the end of the trial.

Although this law is temporarily blocked, two others are set to go into effect August 1. One outlaws having an abortion if the fetus has a genetic defect, and another bans abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Both laws tighten restrictions, but allow the clinic to continue to operate.

ORIGINAL STORY

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A judge has blocked a North Dakota law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, after opponents of the bill argued it was unconstitutional.

East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin heard arguments Wednesday about the bill, one of four anti-abortion laws passed this year by the Republican dominated Legislature and signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Afterward, Corwin said he would issue a preliminary injunction stopping the law from taking effect Thursday.

Officials at the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, the state's sole abortion provider, have said the bill would likely force them out of business. The clinic is served by out-of-state physicians.

Republican Rep. Spencer Berry, the bill's sponsor, has said the legislation is meant to assure the health and safety of women.

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