Women's clinic lawyers argue for delay of North Dakota abortion ban

At Friday's hearing, attorneys representing the Red River Women's Clinic told Judge Bruce Romanick that North Dakota's trigger law violates the state's constitution and if allowed to stand would bring an end to 50 years of abortion access.

Lauren Bernstein, the attorney representing the Red River Women's Clinic, finishes her arguments during a preliminary injunction hearing on North Dakota's abortion trigger law on Friday, Aug. 19, at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck.
Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune<br/>
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BISMARCK — On Friday, Aug. 19, lawyers for North Dakota's only abortion clinic asked a judge to delay the implementation of the state's 2007 trigger law, which bans abortion.

That ban is set to take effect Aug. 26.

On Friday, the Red River Women's Clinic, which closed its Fargo facility about two weeks ago, asked Burleigh County District Court Judge Bruce Romanick for a preliminary injunction as part of a lawsuit the clinic filed that asserts North Dakota's abortion law violates the state constitution.

Romanick placed the trigger ban on hold when he ruled last month that North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley prematurely asserted that July 28 should be the closing date for the state's only abortion clinic.

At that time, Romanick granted a temporary restraining order, which allowed the clinic time to move to a new address in Moorhead, where abortion will remain legal.


North Dakota's trigger law was intended to take effect within 30 days if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which the Supreme Court did on June 24, though the decision was not certified until July 26.

At Friday's hearing, attorneys representing the Red River Women's Clinic told Judge Romanick that North Dakota's trigger law violates the state's constitution and if allowed to stand would bring an end to five decades of abortion access.

"The words of the North Dakota Constitution were not carved in stone. They were written on paper intending to be read and re-read in the changing light of a new day. And today … is that day," said Thomas Dickson, an attorney for the clinic.

Dickson added that the wording of the state's constitution allows women to make their own decisions regarding their bodily autonomy.

Attorneys representing the state maintain that North Dakota's constitution contains no right to abortion, either express or implied.

Romanick said he would rule on the request for a preliminary injunction before Aug. 26, the day the trigger law is set to take effect.

North Dakota's abortion prohibition 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 allowed if the mother's life is in danger and in cases of rape or incest.


The Red River Women's Clinic opened in a Moorhead office building at 302 Highway 75 N. on Wednesday, Aug. 10 .

Exterior of an office building
The Red River Women's Clinic is now located at 302 Hwy 75 North in Moorhead.
Robin Huebner / The Forum

No exterior sign advertises the clinic, but a buzzer in the secure entryway of the building identifies it as such.

The clinic's move to Moorhead means the end of abortion care in North Dakota unless the state's abortion ban is overturned.

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