Judge: Injunction remains against North Dakota abortion ban

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 4:30 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota judge on Monday affirmed his refusal to let the state’s abortion ban take effect despite the state Supreme Court ordering him to reconsider whether he had made the “appropriate” decision as a lawsuit over the law is pending.

Judge Bruce Romanick last month rejected a request from North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to let the law take effect while the state’s only abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic of Fargo, challenges it on constitutional grounds.

Romanick based his decision on several factors, but Wrigley argued he had not sufficiently considered one of them — the Red River clinic’s chances of prevailing in its lawsuit. The state’s high court agreed and told Romanick to take another look.

In his earlier ruling, Romanick noted the clinic’s uphill battle, but said weighing in on the clinic’s chances of winning would force him to rule without allowing proper arguments from both sides. He said such a decision should not be made until either a trial or after additional written arguments.

Romanick stood by that reasoning in affirming his ruling.

In the weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent earlier this year, the Red River clinic shut down its single location in Fargo and moved just a few miles across the state line to Moorhead, Minnesota, a state where abortion remains legal. But the clinic continued to press its lawsuit arguing that the North Dakota constitution grants a right to abortion.

When Romanick blocked the law from taking effect, he acknowledged that the clinic had moved but noted doctors and hospitals would still be affected by the statute.

The law makes abortion illegal except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger — any of which would have to be proven in court. Otherwise, a doctor who performs an abortion would face a felony charge, which abortion rights supporters say could stop doctors from performing abortions even if the mother’s health is at risk.