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North Dakota asks judge to allow abortion trigger law to take effect

Last month, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick blocked the state's abortion ban from taking effect.

Anti-abortion protesters hold signs toward pedestrians and passing traffic Wednesday, July 11, 2018, outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. Erin Bormett / Forum News Service
Anti-abortion protesters hold signs toward pedestrians and passing traffic Wednesday, July 11, 2018, outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. Erin Bormett / Forum News Service
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BISMARCK — Lawyers representing North Dakota have asked a Bismarck judge to reconsider his decision to block the state's abortion ban.

Last month, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick granted a request for a preliminary injunction made by the Red River Women’s Clinic, which was the state’s only abortion clinic until a recent move to Moorhead.

The injunction blocking the abortion ban is to remain in effect until a further court order or the end of litigation in the case, Romanick wrote in the Aug. 25 order.

A brief filed Thursday, Sept. 8, by Solicitor General Matthew Sagveen and Assistant Attorney General Courtney Titus argues the judge should lift the stay on the abortion ban because the state is likely to succeed in the case on appeal.

The state also argues allowing the abortion ban to take effect doesn't hurt the public interest because the state constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion.

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In 2007, North Dakota lawmakers passed a bill that would outlaw abortion in the state within 30 days if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The 15-year-old legislation was triggered by the high court’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in June.

The Red River Women’s Clinic sued the state in July after Wrigley set off a 30-day countdown by certifying the Supreme Court’s decision.

In July, Romanick temporarily blocked the ban a day before it was due to take effect, saying Wrigley's certification was premature.

The trigger law would make it a Class C felony for anyone to perform an abortion, unless a pregnant female performs an abortion on herself. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Performing an abortion would still be permitted if the mother's life is in danger and in cases of rape or incest, though a provider may still have to prove in court the procedure was justified.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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