N.D. Spends Over $50K Defending Medication Abortion Law

June 11, 2013 — North Dakota has spent more than $52,000 defending a 2011 state law that restricts medication abortions, according to records obtained by the Associated Press, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (MacPherson, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/8).

The law was set to take effect in August 2011, but the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Fargo-based Red River Women's Clinic, arguing that the law unconstitutionally restricts abortion access for women. North Dakota District Judge Wickham Corwin blocked the law while the suit proceeded, and in April 2012 he announced he would strike it down as unconstitutional.

The law mandates that any drug used to induce abortion must meet FDA protocols and that its label is intended for use in abortion care. The law would prohibit the use of misoprostol -- one of the two drugs used in medication abortions -- because the drug is labeled for the treatment of stomach ulcers (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/3).

State Spending Details

State records show that Donna Harrison -- president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- billed North Dakota more than $49,000 for her testimony in defense of the law at an April hearing.

The state attorney general's office on Tuesday is expected to request $30,000 from the state's Emergency Commission to help cover the costs of the lawsuit.

In anticipation of future lawsuits, the North Dakota Legislature has allocated $400,000 requested by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) to defend against lawsuits challenging antiabortion-rights laws passed this year, including a measure (HB 1456) that prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/8).