News is spreading that North Dakota’s Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, has signed a near total abortion ban and a law that could close down the only abortion clinic in the state, the Red River Women’s Clinic (RRWC). Across the country, pro-choice advocates are loudly championing the right to bodily autonomy for North Dakotans, while anti-choicers are cheering the massive overreach of a lawmaker intent on violating the constitution and eliminating the right to choose.
RRWC Director Tammi Kromenaker told the Associated Press that Fargo supporters have been stopping by the building ever since the announcement to offer their support. The governor “awoke a sleeping giant,” said Kromenaker. One of the three bills signed by the governor this week is likely to close RRWC by mandating that the doctors performing abortions there have local hospital admitting privileges, a requirement that will likely be impossible to obtain from either of the two nearby hospitals.
The clinic is getting more than emotional support. According to ABC News, “unsolicited donations [have] began pouring into the state’s lone abortion clinic”—money that will no doubt be necessary as these laws inevitably result in court battles.
Dalrymple’s support is coming from a much different community: the Catholic Church. Local Bishop David D. Kagan released a statement praising the new laws and the governor’s actions to affirm them. “The protection of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death is the primary purpose of government. All persons, including our elected officials, are obligated to unceasingly seek protection of this basic human right,” he said. Bishop Kagan became the center of a media storm prior to the 2012 elections for using his church standing and title to implore North Dakota Catholics to vote against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in the U.S. Senate race, throwing subtle support to Republican candidate Rick Berg, who once stated that women should be jailed for obtaining abortions. Heitkamp won the race.
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The Diocese may be supporting Dalrymple spiritually, but the funds to litigate the unconstitutional laws must come from somewhere else. The governor has advised the state legislature that “before it adjourns [it] should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General” to cover necessary expenses.