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Ruling Delayed In North Dakota Medication Abortion Case

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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5:56PM PST on Feb 22, 2012


5:30AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Glad the clinic is fighting for women's rights.

4:05PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

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!

3:00PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

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

4:51AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Thanks for the article.

11:09PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Thank you for the news.

10:11PM PST on Jan 30, 2012


10:11PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

A glimmer of sanity.

8:39PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

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

7:22PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

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.

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