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N.D. Supreme Court Declines To Reconsider Medication Abortion Case

January 9, 2015 — The North Dakota Supreme Court said this week that it will not rehear arguments regarding a 2014 ruling that upheld a law (HB 1297) effectively banning medication abortions in the state, the AP/Bellingham Herald reports (AP/Bellingham Herald, 1/7).

Background

The law mandates that any drug used to induce abortion meets FDA protocols and that the drug's label states that it is approved for use in abortion care. As a result, 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.

While three of the court's five judges agreed in an October 2014 ruling that the law is unconstitutional, the state requires a four-judge majority to strike down a law (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/29/14).

After the October ruling, the state's only abortion provider, the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, stopped providing medication abortions (Welker, Grand Forks Herald, 1/7). The clinic said the law amounts to a ban on medication abortions, given that both drugs are necessary to perform the procedure, according to the AP/Herald (AP/Bellingham Herald, 1/7).

Petition Details

In November, the clinic petitioned the court to clarify ambiguities in the law, the Herald reports. Specifically, the clinic asked for clarification about a part of the law that says doctors can only perform medication abortions if they have a contract with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The clinic's attorneys did not comment on whether they would appeal the court's refusal to rehear the case (Grand Forks Herald, 1/7).