State Watch

Judge puts North Dakota’s abortion ban on hold again

Associated Press/Mary Altaffer
Abortion-rights protesters attend a rally following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A state court has blocked North Dakota’s trigger abortion ban, which would prohibit most abortions in the state, as it was set to go into effect on Friday. 

Judge Bruce Romanick ruled Thursday that the state law, which bans the procedure unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest, should remain on hold while legal battles proceed. 

Romanick agreed with the plaintiffs’ arguments that the ban going into effect on Friday could cause irreparable injury to women across the state and harm to interested parties. The ruling states that the purpose of a preliminary injunction, which it issued Thursday, is to maintain the status quo, and not restricting abortions as the law outlines follows the status quo. 

The original dispute over the law comes from whether North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley (R) correctly interpreted the language of the law to take the steps necessary to implement it. The law states that the ban would go into effect on the 30th day after “the attorney general certifies to the legislative council the issuance of the judgment in any decision of the United States Supreme Court which, in whole or in part, restores states authority to prohibit abortion.” 

Wrigley certified that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 28, a few days after the ruling was announced, but the plaintiffs argued that he needed to wait 25 days after the opinion came out for the court’s official judgement to be settled. 

Romanick initially blocked the law late last month as the plaintiffs pursued their litigation. He said in his ruling at the time that the Supreme Court could alter its original judgment in that time period, although it is rare, and render its original ruling moot. 

Wrigley told The Hill in an interview at the time that he complied with the ruling by recertifying the Supreme Court’s ruling after the official judgment was released, and the law would next take effect on Friday, Aug. 26. 

Red River Women’s Clinic, one of the plaintiffs and the last abortion clinic that was operating in North Dakota, has since moved across the border to neighboring Minnesota. 

The court did not rule on the probability of the plaintiffs succeeding on the merits of their arguments. 

The ruling comes on the same day that three trigger bans went into effect in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas. More than a dozen states have moved to ban or severely restrict abortion since Roe was overturned.

Tags abortion ban abortion restrictions abortion rights Bruce Romanick Drew Wrigley North Dakota Red River Women's Clinic Roe v. Wade trigger ban United States Supreme Court
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