North Dakota judge blocks law designed to close state’s only abortion clinic
A North Dakota judge has placed a temporary hold on a law designed to shut down the state’s only women’s health clinic that offers abortions. According to a press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), North Dakota Senate Bill 2305 was found to impose medically unwarranted restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Judge Wickham Corwin wrote in the ruling that “A woman’s right to choose is one of the inalienable freedoms guaranteed by the first section of our constitution.”
The bill, which was signed into law in March, required that any physician performing abortions in the state must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where the procedure is performed. A similar Mississippi law, said CRR, has been blocked by a federal judge as unconstitutional.
The New York Times reported that the Red River Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota would be forced to close if the 30-mile law were enforced because the facility is frequently forced to fly in physicians from out of state.
“As RRWC provides its physicians with the appropriate staff and facilities, there is obviously no need for a legislative mandate that each of those physicians be credentialed to also perform abortions at a local hospital,” wrote Corwin Wednesday.
Judges have been reluctant to rule in favor of the restrictions because in medical emergencies, hospitals will typically admit patients who need help whether their current physicians are on staff or not. Women’s health advocates say that admitting privileges requirements are just another means of making abortions unreasonably difficult to obtain.
Bebe Anderson, director of the U.S. legal program at CRR, said, “Whether it is a direct assault banning abortion outright or trumped up schemes to regulate women’s reproductive health care providers out of practice, the underhanded tactics of politicians hostile to women’s health and rights are being rejected by courts at every level in the U.S.. Today’s decision ensures that North Dakota’s only abortion clinic can keep its doors open to the many women it provides critical health care to every year.”
She added that she is confident that the North Dakota law will be permanently struck down.
[image of judge’s robe and justice scales via Shutterstock.com]