February 14, 2014 — A North Dakota hospital has granted admitting privileges to physicians at the state's only abortion clinic, which would put the clinic in compliance with a state law that it has challenged in court, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The law (SB 2305) requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their facilities. It is one of four new antiabortion-rights laws recently enacted in the state, including a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and a law prohibiting abortions based on the sex of the fetus or fetal defects. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the fourth law, which would ban abortions once the fetal heartbeat can be detected, as litigation over its constitutionality plays out in court.
Admitting Privileges Case
In 2013, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the admitting privileges requirement on behalf of the state's sole abortion clinic, Red River Women's Clinic, arguing that the rule would effectively make abortion illegal in the state. State District Judge Wickham Corwin granted a preliminary injunction against the law in July, and the trial was originally slated to be heard in court this week. It was recently taken off the court docket amid settlement talks.
Sanford Health, a health system based in Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., on Thursday said that it had extended admitting privileges to Red River Women's Clinic's three abortion providers. In a statement, the health system said its decision was "based on objective criteria that [are] completely focused on protecting patients and providing safe patient care."
Sanford Health added that the criteria for admitting privileges approval are "applied in a neutral and unbiased manner" (Macpherson, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/13).