By James MacPherson and Dave Kolpack | Associated Press
BISMARCK, ND – A North Dakota judge ruled Monday that he will keep the state’s abortion ban invalid, saying there is a “high probability” that a legal challenge to the law will succeed.
Judge Bruce Romanick’s ruling means abortion remains legal in North Dakota, even though the state’s only clinic — Fargo’s Red River Women’s University — was shut down when the He defied the ban and moved across the border to nearby Minnesota.
Romanick last month rejected North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s request to enforce the law while the Red River clinic’s lawsuit moves forward. Romanick based his earlier decision on several factors, but Wrigley said he did not consider the clinic’s involvement in court. The North Dakota Supreme Court agreed and told Romanick to reconsider.
In his previous settlement, Romanick saw the clinic’s biggest struggle. But in his ruling Monday, he said the clinic has a “high chance” of success, though he said the question of whether abortion should be legal in North Dakota has been controversial and has yet to be decided by the highest court of the state.
Romanick said the purpose of the preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until a case can be resolved on merits.
But he also wrote that there is a “high probability” that the law is being violated due to strict restrictions on doctors. In particular, he argued that the ban would allow cases of rape or incest to be raised as a defense to performing an abortion – but he said doctors could be prosecuted first.
This places an unnecessary burden on doctors and pregnant women “that is not strictly related to the goal of protecting life” – which the government said was the purpose of the law. He wrote that if “women do not have the right to obtain abortions when their lives are in danger, the Law will not fulfill its purpose.”
Wrigley, a Republican, said he is still weighing the decision.
“I don’t really believe everything I read in the judge’s decision, and we’re looking forward to the answer,” he said.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, said she was glad abortion was “safe and legal” in the state.
“We want doctors who treat patients to be prepared to use their medical judgment and training without looking at the law books on how they can take care of patients,” he said. he said.
Weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, a Red River clinic closed its one location in Fargo and moved just a few miles from state line in Moorhead, Minnesota, a state where abortion is still legal. But the clinic continued to fight its lawsuit, arguing that North Dakota’s constitution provides a right to abortion.
When Romanick stopped the law from taking effect last month, he acknowledged that the clinic had moved but said the law would continue to harm doctors and hospitals.
The law makes abortion illegal except in cases of miscarriage or stillbirth, where the mother’s life is at risk – either of which must be presented to the court. Otherwise, the doctor performing the abortion could be punished, which abortion advocates say could prevent doctors from performing abortions even when the mother’s health is at risk.
More than a dozen states have passed so-called trigger laws designed to ban most abortions if the high court overturns the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Although some countries have begun to implement bans in some cases other efforts have been limited to prohibiting procedures in the courts.
In Idaho, for example, the abortion ban is in place, but a federal judge has temporarily barred the state from enforcing the ban on certain medical conditions while a federal lawsuit is pending. Law in the courts. And last week Arizona’s attorney general agreed not to implement a full ban on abortions at least until next year.