Federal Judge Rules ND Abortion Law Unconstitutional - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Updated: Federal Judge Rules ND Abortion Law Unconstitutional

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A federal judge strikes down North Dakota's abortion law considered to be one of the most restrictive in the nation. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that the law, which was passed last year by North Dakota lawmakers "cannot withstand a constitutional challenge." The law would ban abortions as early as six weeks.

The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo said the bill was unconstitutional, and getting an abortion was protected under the 14th amendment. Court documents show the decision also stated North Dakota didn't present any reliable medical evidence to justify the passage of the law. Both sides were anxiously awaiting this major ruling, and both sides agree the battle is far from over.

Tammi Kromenaker, Director of the Red River Women's Clinic says she's feeling relieved after hearing the judge's ruling. She says over the last few years the legislature has been making a bigger effort to end abortion, and close the clinic in Fargo, the only one in the state that performs abortions. For things to change she says it's up to North Dakotans to vote different people into office.

"When the governor signed this bill into law we were seeing patients, and a year plus later we are still seeing patients,  as long as women in this area need our services, we will fight to keep our doors open and keep abortion safe and legal and accessible for people in our region," says Kromenaker.

Kromenaker says she's not surprised the legislation was shot down since it's the strictest law against abortion in the United States.

Meanwhile, John Trandem, who is involved in multiple pro-life groups locally says he saw this ruling coming, adding that the law would have been a step in the right direction.

"It's going to be a long and arduous process, North Dakota voters have a choice to make, this November, and that it'll have a big impact with measure one, and like i said i think it's a matter of informing people, educating people and helping them understand the significance of pro-life legislation, and protecting all lives," says Trandem.

Trandem was referring to measure number one on the November 4th ballot, where North Dakotans will decide whether to make it law that every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.

As far as today's ruling, Trandem added that it's up to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to pursue further action.



(MSNBC) A federal judge has struck down one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, ruling that a North Dakota ban on abortions after as early as six weeks is unconstitutional.

In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland wrote of the state's push to end abortions after a month and a half, "The United States Supreme Court has spoken and has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability."

The law, which would have prohibited abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, passed last year and was immediately challenged. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed suit on behalf of the Red River Women's Clinic, the only abortion provider in North Dakota. A judge blocked the law from going into effect in July of last year.

In a statement, Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, called Wednesday's decision a major victory for women throughout the Midwest.

"The court was correct to call this law exactly what it is: a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women," Northup said in a statement. "But women should not be forced to go to court, year after year in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights. We hope today's decision, along with the long line of decisions striking down these attempts to choke off access to safe and legal abortion services in the U.S., sends a strong message to politicians across the country that our rights cannot be legislated away."

Women travel from South Dakota and Minnesota to receive reproductive care at the Red River Women's Clinic, which is based in Fargo, N.D. The state attorney general has not yet decided whether to appeal the decision to the 8th circuit.

The ban was one of several bills passed by the North Dakota legislature last year restricting abortion care. The CRR settled a suit over the state's law requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals after a local hospital granted them to the Red River Women's Clinic. Clinics in Texas have already shuttered because they were unable to get such privileges, and clinics in other Southern states are also in danger of closing because of similar admitting privileges laws.

The battle over abortion rights in North Dakota is not over, though. The North Dakota Supreme Court is reviewing a law that would functionally end medication abortion, which could further burden women who live in rural areas many miles from comprehensive reproductive care.

The state legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment giving personhood rights to embryos last year. The amendment would ban all abortion outright in North Dakota and could end reproductive services like in vitro fertilization. It was extreme enough to inspire some Republican legislators to condemn it at a rally against the measure shortly after it passed. Voters will decide whether to reject the measure in November.

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