North Dakota judge denies state’s request to let abortion ban take effect

·2 min read

A North Dakota judge has denied the state’s request to let a near-total ban on abortion take effect.

Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick on Thursday rejected a request made by the state to lift his stay of a law banning abortion while the constitutionality of the law is challenged in court.

On Aug. 25, Romanick granted a request for a preliminary injunction made by the Red River Women’s Clinic — which at the time was the only abortion clinic in the state — a day before the law was due to take effect.

The clinic has since closed its doors in downtown Fargo and reopened in the neighboring city of Moorhead, Minn.

Earlier this month, state lawyers asked the judge to lift his stay, arguing that North Dakota would win the case on appeal.

But on Thursday, Romanick wrote that “the court is not convinced by the state’s argument that it was required to fully flesh out whether either party had a ‘substantial probability of succeeding’” in the case.

When blocking the ban from taking effect, Romanick acknowledged that the clinic had already moved to a different state, but said that doctors and hospitals would be affected by the law.

He added that he wasn’t ruling on whether the clinic or the state would win the case. Instead, he found that more time was needed to make a proper judgment.

The trigger law, which was passed in 2007, was designed to take effect if the Supreme Court ever overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — which happened on June 24.

The clinic sued the state, and on July 27 Romanick issued an order temporarily blocking the ban from taking effect, writing that the state’s attorney general, Drew Wrigley, “prematurely attempted to execute the triggering language” of the law — which would make it a Class C felony for anyone to perform an abortion, with possible exceptions for when the mother’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.

A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

With News Wire Services