Despite Supreme Court order, judge refuses to let North Dakota abortion ban go into effect

Red River Women’s Clinic, Moorhead

FARGO — A North Dakota judge on Monday upheld his refusal to let the state’s abortion ban go into effect despite the state Supreme Court ordering him to reconsider whether he had taken the “appropriate” decision because legal action regarding the law is pending.

Last month, Judge Bruce Romanick denied a request by North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to let the law go into 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 didn’t sufficiently consider one of them – the Red River Clinic‘s chances of prevailing in his lawsuit. The state 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 victory would force him to rule without allowing proper arguments from both sides. He said such a decision should not be made before a trial or after additional written arguments.

Romanick maintained this reasoning by confirming his decision.

In the weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of the precedent Roe v. Wade earlier this year, the Red River Clinic closed its single location in Fargo and moved a few miles across the state line to Moorhead, Minnesota, a state where the abortion remains legal. But the clinic continued to press her lawsuit, arguing that North Dakota’s constitution grants the right to abortion.

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

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

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