Judge puts hold on North Dakota trigger law banning abortion

Aug 25, 2022, 2:25 PM | Updated: 3:45 pm
Volunteer escorts and others stand outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Moorhead, Minn., Wednesd...

Volunteer escorts and others stand outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Moorhead, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. The clinic has operated since 1998 in Fargo, where it was North Dakota's only abortion clinic, but now faces likely shutdown on a trigger law banning abortion due to take effect in late August. Wednesday was its first day of operation just a couple of miles away at the new Moorhead location. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)

(AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A judge on Thursday again blocked a trigger law banning abortion in North Dakota as he weighs arguments from the state’s lone abortion clinic that the law violates the state constitution.

Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick granted the request for a preliminary injunction as part of a lawsuit brought by the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.

The ban was set to take effect Friday. The clinic already moved its services a short distance to neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion remains legal, even as it seeks to block the North Dakota law.

Romanick said he was not ruling on the probability of the clinic winning the lawsuit, rather that more time was needed to make a proper judgment. He said that even though the clinic moved its operations to Minnesota, the statute would also affect doctors and hospitals, making the decision to delay “still pertinent and appropriate,” the judge said.

Clinic attorney Tom Dickson told The Associated Press that his team was “gratified” by the ruling.

“The right of women to make the decisions affecting their personal autonomy should be guaranteed by the North Dakota Constitution,” Dickson said.

The lawsuit argues that the state constitution’s guarantees of rights to life, liberty, safety and happiness effectively guarantee a right to abortion.

It’s the second time that Romanick has put the trigger ban on hold. He ruled last month that Attorney General Drew Wrigley was premature in setting a July 28 closing date and issued a temporary restraining order that effectively gave the clinic time to move to Moorhead without a gap in services.

Wrigley said his office will “continue our efforts to ensure the eventual enforcement of the bipartisan provision signed into law back in 2007.”

The Legislature passed the law to kick in if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established nationwide abortion rights. The high court did so in June.

The law would make 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.

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Judge puts hold on North Dakota trigger law banning abortion