BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s last remaining abortion facility will be allowed to remain open, a location that reportedly conducts 2,000 abortions a year, due to an agreement reached this week with state officials.
As previously reported, North Dakota legislators passed a bill in 2011 that required abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at an area hospital.
“All physicians associated with an abortion facility must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and staff privileges to replace local hospital on-staff physicians,” S.B. 2035 reads.
The law was challenged last year as attorneys with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights added a complaint to its already filed suit that took issue with legislation restricting drug-based abortions to those that only follow the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) protocol.
The suit was filed on behalf of the sole abortion facility in the state, Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.
District Judge Wickham Corwin issued an injunction against both requirements in April of last year, and the state appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court, remarking that the judge had erred in applying Roe v. Wade to the case instead of the state Constitution.
“We take issue that the court applied federal law, basically applying it into the state court,” Assistant Attorney General Douglas Bahr stated, according to Inforum. “There is no right under North Dakota state law to abortion.”
A trial surrounding the admitting privileges requirement was scheduled for February, but was later postponed to see if both parties could work out a settlement over the matter. In December, Sanford Health, a North Dakota-based hospital system, granted admitting privileges to the abortionists at Red River Women’s Clinic. Therefore, both sides agreed that the challenge to the suit was now moot.
In press release issued on Friday by the office of North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, it was officially announced that an agreement had been reached and the challenge had been dismissed.
“The agreement requires the physicians currently performing abortions at the clinic to maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital as long as the law remains in effect,” Stenehjem explained. “The agreement also requires any additional physician, who in the future performs abortions at the clinic, obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital that satisfy the requirements of Senate Bill 2305.”
Attorneys for Red River Women’s Clinic applauded the outcome, asserting that the admitting privileges mandate had been crafted “to shutter the only abortion clinic in the state.”
Red River Women’s Clinic, which will consequently remain open because of its ability to comply with the law, outlines its surgical abortion procedures—most commonly suction curretage—on its website.
“When the cervix has been dilated to the width appropriate for your stage of pregnancy, the physician will insert a small tube (a cannula) that is attached to a suction machine,” it explains. “The machine’s suction empties the contents of the uterus through the tube.”
Red River Women’s Clinic’s legal challenge surrounding regulations for drug-induced abortions remains in effect. Oral argument was heard over the matter before the state Supreme Court last December, and a ruling is still pending.