The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, provides the only remaining abortion service in the entire state. But it’s not alone in that distinction: South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi also have just a single abortion clinic for their citizens.
Now, North Dakota is taking it to the next level: state lawmakers have passed a series of new laws designed to put the clinic out of business. They are the toughest, most stringent abortion laws in the U.S.
The regulations include a straight “heartbeat ban” that would make abortion illegal at the point that an embryonic heart beat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks pregnancy or earlier via transvaginal ultrasound. Another restriction would ban abortions based on the gender of the fetus while yet another bans abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities.
A Frontal Assault On The U.S. Constitution
From The Daily Mail:
At six weeks, the ban would take effect before many women would know they were pregnant, said the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents North Dakota’s only clinic that provides abortions, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.
‘The passage of this law is nothing short of a frontal assault on the U.S. Constitution, 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, and the health and fundamental rights of women,’ said Nancy Northup, the center’s president and CEO.
The state also passed new rules forcing doctors who perform abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Now the clinic is under siege daily, as it has become a target for anti-abortion protestors, who can often be found standing outside the building, harassing clinic patients. As a result, the doors are kept locked and there are cameras in place to monitor the protestors.
Since I worked with pro-choice groups confronting Operation Rescue several years ago, I am very familiar with the tactics of the anti-abortion brigade. They favor holding pictures of fetuses, blown up to billboard size, in front of clinics where women come to get abortions. Then there are the signs asking questions like “What if Beethoven’s mother had had an abortion?” For people who dare to call themselves “pro-life,” they are remarkably cruel and insensitive.
But North Dakota Is Fighting Back
From The New York Times:
The running battle over the regulation of abortions entered a North Dakota courtroom on Wednesday, as the state’s sole abortion clinic sued to block a new law that it says could force it to shut down.
The law, requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, was promoted by anti-abortion legislators, who argued that it would mean better care for women who suffer medical emergencies.
The Red River Women’s Clinic, in Fargo, relies on doctors who are licensed in North Dakota but fly in from out of state to perform abortions. Its director said that in the rare event of serious complications, women would be rushed to a hospital for appropriate care whether or not the clinic doctor had admitting privileges.
“Its purpose is to shut down the clinic, the sole abortion facility in the state,” the suit alleges of the law, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1.
The suit, filed in a state district court on behalf of the clinic by the Center for Reproductive Rights, says the law would pose an unconstitutional infringement on the right to abortion.
Is the anti-abortion movement winning in the U.S.? Take a look at this list.
The Worst State Laws
Alabama: A new law requires clinics to meet the same regulatory standards as outpatient surgical centres.
Arkansas: No abortion after 12 weeks.
North Dakota: A law banning abortion after detection of a foetal heartbeat, which generally occurs at six weeks, is currently being challenged in court.
Mississippi: A law forcing the state’s sole clinic to only use doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals is now being challenged in court.
Texas: A bill allocates $4m to promoting alternatives to abortion while restricting funds for family planning groups.
It’s not a pretty picture, but the women of Fargo, North Dakota, are fighting back against this vicious campaign to take away their rights.
Care2 will keep you posted on the developments in North Dakota and other states.
Photo Credit: mdfriendofhillary