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N.D. Supreme Court Upholds Law That Blocks Medication Abortions Statewide

N.D. Supreme Court Upholds Law That Blocks Medication Abortions Statewide

October 29, 2014 — The North Dakota Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a state law restricting medication abortions is constitutional, the AP/ABC News reports.

The ruling will immediately end medication abortions in the state, according to attorney David Brown of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is aiding the plaintiffs in the case. The court's decision reversed a state district judge's ruling that the 2011 law is unconstitutional (MacPherson, AP/ABC News, 10/28).

Ruling Details

While three of the court's five judges agreed that the law is unconstitutional, the state requires a four-judge majority to strike down a law, according to Reuters/Huffington Post (Reuters/Huffington Post, 10/28).

The law mandates that any drug used to induce abortion must meet FDA protocols and that its label state that it is approved for use in abortion care. Thus, the law bars the use of misoprostol -- one of the two drugs used in medication abortions -- because the drug is labeled for the treatment of stomach ulcers.

The law was set to take effect in August 2011, but North Dakota District Judge Wickham Corwin blocked it while the lawsuit proceeded. In July 2013, the judge struck down the law as unconstitutional, but the state appealed (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/13/13).

Attorneys for the Red River Women's Clinic -- the only abortion clinic in North Dakota -- have noted that the two-drug medication abortion regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol is widely accepted in the medical community.

The clinic performs about 1,300 abortions annually, about 20% of which are medication abortions, according to clinic director Tammi Kromenaker.

Reaction

Brown said no decision has been made on whether to appeal the ruling (AP/ABC News, 10/28).

CRR President Nancy Northup said in a statement that the court's decision "directly conflicts with courts across the U.S. that have rejected the idea that politicians have any place in the practice of medicine or in women's deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies, their health, their families, and their future" (Reuters/Huffington Post, 10/28).