May 13, 2013
In July 2011, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Red River Women’s Clinic—the only abortion clinic in North Dakota which provides a range of reproductive health services to women in North Dakota as well as to patients who travel from neighboring states, like South Dakota and Minnesota—challenging HB 1297, a law that effectively banned all medication abortion in North Dakota.
Two years later, in May 2013, CRR filed a supplemental complaint on behalf of Red River Women’s Clinic challenging SB 2305, which imposes a medically unwarranted requirement that physicians have admitting privileges at a local hospital or face criminal prosecution and penalties, including up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Red River Women’s Clinic alleges that both laws: (1) impose an arbitrary, medically unwarranted requirement on physicians who provide abortion care that will likely have the effect of banning the provision of all abortions in the State of North Dakota; (2) unconstitutionally infringe upon a woman’s fundamental right to choose to have an abortion; (3) constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative authority; (4) constitute an impermissible special law; (5) violate the privileges and immunities rights of women seeking and physicians providing abortions; and (6) deprive Plaintiffs and the Clinic’s staff of their protected liberty and property interests in continuing to operate their ongoing medical practice and pursuing their chosen professions.
In a July 2013 ruling, state Judge Wickham Corwin permanently blocked HB 1297 (the medication abortion ban), which he said violates the state and U.S. constitutions. North Dakota has appealed the ruling to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Later in a separate ruling, Judge Corwin temporarily blocked the admitting privileges law. A trial on the law was scheduled to begin this February, but the trial was postponed so the parties could work out a potential settlement. In March 2014, attorneys representing the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, reached a settlement with the state after Sanford Health, a Dakotas-based health-care system, granted hospital admitting privileges to the doctors of the Red River Women’s Clinic, thus bringing the clinic into compliance with the law.