Ruling Delayed In North Dakota Medication Abortion Case


A North Dakota judge seemed inclined to find a North Dakota law that is intended to prohibit the practice of medication abortion on the ground that the law illegally restricts abortion rights.

The Red River Women’s Clinic of Fargo, North Dakota’s only abortion provider, challenged the law as unconstitutional. Last July a district court judge issued a restraining order preventing the law from taking effect. That same judge continued his order until he decides on the clinic’s request to permanently block the law.

The clinic performs approximately 1300 abortions a year and of those about 250 are done using a combination of two drugs, mifeprex and misoprostol. The federal Food and Drug Administration as approved the marketing of mifeprex as a drug for ending pregnancies and doctors use that drug in combination with misoprostol, a treatment for stomach ulcers that is not labeled as an abortion-inducing drug.

North Dakota’s law states that the use of any drug to cause an abortion must meet the “protocol tested and authorized” by the FDA and outlined on the drug’s label. Proponents of the law say because misoprostol is not labeled as an abortion-inducing drug the law prohibits its use for that purpose. North Dakota law does not prohibit the “off-label” use of any other drug.

Opponents argue the law effectively bans medication abortions and irrationally restricts access to health care services. Suzanne Novak, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York smartly framed the issue this way: “[t]his is like saying, you have a heart condition and you can either get medicine for this heart condition, or you can undergo surgery. But you know what? We’re going to decide, we’re just going to take the medication option off the table, and all of you have to get surgery,” Novak said. “That is an irrational law, and unconstitutional under any standard.”

Eastern Central District Judge Wickham Corwin delayed his ruling but a victory on this issue would be a big win for women’s health advocates and women in North Dakota seeking a safe, minimally invasive manner of terminating a pregnancy.


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Photo from via flickr.

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Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago


sherry l.
sherry luciano3 years ago

Glad the clinic is fighting for women's rights.

Amanda M.
Amanda M.3 years ago

Kudos to this judge for standing up to the Religious Reich and recognizing the fact that science and medical care should NOT be trumped by religious tyranny!

antonia maestre
antonia maestre3 years ago

This is a money question mascarading as a legal/moral one.

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

New G.
New G.3 years ago

Thank you for the news.

Penny C.
Penny C.3 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

A glimmer of sanity.

pam w.
pam w.3 years ago

GOOD! A judge with the law in opposed to religious tyranny.

cassandra Yinger
cassandra Yinger3 years ago

Lets fight to make Plan B more readily available, without prescription, over the counter. How much pain and suffering could that prevent? Rally our representives.