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Judge In North Dakota Blocks Abortion Trigger Ban Day Before It Takes Effect

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


A judge in North Dakota has inserted himself into the abortion debate in his state.

Judge Bruce Romanick of the South Central Judicial District in Burleigh County on Thursday blocked the state’s “trigger law” banning most abortions, noting in his ruling that the injunction aims to maintain the status quo until challenges to the law play out in other courts.

In his ruling. Romanick said he was persuaded by an abortion clinic’s argument challenging the ban that it would lead to “significant” harm if the law were allowed to go into effect, CNN reported. ‘

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“His order said that he was not making any conclusions about which side was more likely to succeed on the merits of the case over whether the law violates the state’s constitution,” the outlet noted.

Per the network:

North Dakota currently allows abortion up until 20 weeks or more post-fertilization. The abortion ban that was set to take effect Friday would make it a felony to perform an abortion in the state with exceptions for the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

Red River Women’s Clinic, the abortion provider that had brought the lawsuit, had set up a facility across the border in Minnesota in anticipation of being forced to shut down in North Dakota once the law took effect.

Romanick acknowledged the clinic’s move to relocate in his order Thursday, and said that the abortion ban “would implicate others, including physicians at regional hospitals if it were to go into effect.”

A staff lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Meetra Mehdizadeh, who represented the abortion clinic, noted in a statement the court made the right decision, adding that the judge “rightfully recognized the harmful impacts this ban would have on North Dakotans.”

“This trigger law completely disregards the health care needs of pregnant people and punishes doctors for providing critical, life-saving services to their patients,” she said. “State lawmakers have been so hellbent on cutting off abortion access that they are trampling the North Dakota Constitution.”

CNN reported that Drew Wrigley, North Dakota’s attorney general, did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s not likely a coincidence that the case was filed in Romanick’s court. Previously, he ordered a delay in the implementation of the trigger ban, ruling that the state had adopted an incorrect procedure for implementing it.

Dozens of states had previously passed so-called ‘trigger laws’ that were to implement varying degrees of limitations our outright bans on abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever ruled to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision which legalized the procedure in all 50 states in 1973. The high court ruled 5-4 in June to overturn Roe.

Since then, several other trigger bans have also been challenged in state courts, as well as other laws restricting the procedure.

Some state courts have moved to block the laws while others have ruled to allow them to take effect.

Last week, for instance, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the state’s near-total abortion ban will remain in place while the justices review arguments by abortion clinics challenging two state laws.

The state’s highest court kept in place a recent lower court ruling that reimposed the ban on nearly all abortions in Kentucky.

Abortion-rights groups vowed to continue their legal fight, calling abortion a “critical individual freedom.”

“Kentucky’s justices in Thursday’s ruling denied a request by the abortion clinics to reimpose an injunction that temporarily prevented the state’s near-total abortion ban from taking effect. In doing so, the Supreme Court ruled that the circumstances presented by the clinics and their attorneys in their motion do not rise to the level of extraordinary cause,” the Seattle Times reported.

“The court agreed to take the case and set a schedule for the submission of briefs and for arguments before the justices. The high court set a hearing for Nov. 15. Which will be after the upcoming general election when a proposed constitutional amendment about abortion is on the ballot. Voters will be asked whether the state’s constitution should be amended to say there is no right to abortion,” the outlet added.

“Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature enacted a trigger law banning nearly all abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The only exception under the measure is when the health of the mother is threatened. Lawmakers also passed a separate 6-week ban that the clinics also challenged,” the outlet continued.



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