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N.D. Medication Abortion Law Remains on Hold After Judge Delays Decision

N.D. Medication Abortion Law Remains on Hold After Judge Delays Decision

January 30, 2012 — A North Dakota judge on Friday did not immediately rule on a state law that bans the use of a medication abortion drug, meaning that a temporary restraining order against the statute remains in place, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports. The restraining order was granted in July 2011 -- less than two weeks before the law was set to take effect -- after the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state's only abortion clinic.

Judge Wickham Corwin said he had hoped to rule on Friday but realized the case was more complicated than he thought (Benshoof, Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 1/27). Corwin requested more information about the safety and uses of medication abortion before making a decision about whether to block the law (Bassett, Huffington Post, 1/27).

The new law mandates that any drug used to induce abortion must meet FDA protocols and that its label must state it is intended for use in abortion care. The law would prohibit the use of misoprostol -- one of the two drugs used in medication abortion -- because the drug is labeled for the treatment of stomach ulcers (Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 1/27).

Suzanne Novak, senior staff attorney for CRR, said, "The law bans medication abortions for no reason whatsoever and denies women a safe, common, effective procedure that's been used by 1.4 million women in the United States" (Huffington Post, 1/27).

Kirsten Franzen, an assistant state's attorney arguing in defense of the law, said, "The fact of the matter is if a woman wants an abortion, this law does not burden her," because surgical abortion is still permitted (Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 1/27).

But Corwin said the law "certainly seems to put an undue burden on any woman who wants a medication abortion" (Huffington Post, 1/27).