Judge Blocks North Dakota’s Trigger Abortion Ban

On Wednesday, a North Dakota judge ruled that the state’s attorney general had improperly calculated the date when the abortion ban should take effect and thus stayed the state’s trigger law banning abortions pending the outcome of the ongoing lawsuit claiming the law violates the state constitution.

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Judge Blocks North Dakota’s Abortion Ban

District Judge Bruce Romanick of Burleigh County agreed with the state’s lone abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, that Attorney General Drew Wrigley “prematurely attempted to execute” the trigger language. The clinic maintained that the 30-day deadline should not have begun until the certified judgment was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“The Court, therefore, finds a temporary restraining order appropriate at this time,” Romanick wrote.

On Thursday, the ban was supposed to go into effect. Wrigley announced shortly after the ruling that he would be dropping off a second certification of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at the North Dakota Legislative Council‘s office. Notably, he remained silent when asked for his thoughts on the judge’s ruling.

Judge Blocks North Dakota’s Trigger Abortion Ban
Judge Blocks North Dakota’s Trigger Abortion Ban

The ruling will give the Red River clinic more time to move a few miles away to Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion is still legal, as states across the country grapple with potential bans and other restrictions, often backed by Republican lawmakers. If legal action fails to overturn the North Dakota ban, clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker has threatened to relocate her business there.

Kromenaker has not responded to a request for comment nor said when the new clinic will be ready. Planned Parenthood, which had previously stated that it would provide backup if necessary, has now stated that Kromenaker has assured them that the clinic’s relocation will not cause any disruption in service.

Clinic attorney Tom Dickson expressed his client’s satisfaction with the court’s decision and expressed anticipation for the upcoming hearing.

Volunteer leader of an independent group that helps fund abortions in North Dakota, Destini Spaeth, described Wednesday as an “emotional day” due to the possibility that it would be the clinic’s last day of operations. When she found out about the directive, she reportedly screamed.

“More time is what we need in terms of getting all our ducks in a row,” Spaeth said. “I’m not going to speculate on the rest of the lawsuit. We can’t really depend on North Dakota in terms of legislation and the judicial branch. But this is a blessing.”

Lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights who is assisting the clinic in the lawsuit, Meetra Mehdizadeh, has stated that the plaintiffs “will do everything in our power to fight this ban and keep abortion accessible in North Dakota for as long as possible.”

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