Judge Temporarily Blocks Enforcement of North Dakota Medication Abortion Ban
07.21.11 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order against a North Dakota law that effectively bans the use of medication abortion in the state by imposing new and unnecessary restrictions. Medication abortion is a safe and common use of FDA-approved drugs to induce first-trimester abortions.
Judge Wickham Corwin's order will block enforcement of the law until a hearing—scheduled for August 29 at 10:00 a.m., CST.
"We are extremely pleased that, for the time being, women in North Dakota will still have access to an alternative to surgical abortion that has been widely recognized as safe and effective by medical experts and organizations around the world," said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed suit against the law on Monday, July 18. "This law has nothing to do with protecting women's health—it defies reason, science and medical expertise in a clandestine attempt to limit women's access to abortion."
The judge determined that the Center raised "serious questions" in its pleadings, and that "the public is best served if these questions are considered before the challenged provisions are enforced."
The Center's lawsuit, filed on behalf of Red River Women's Clinic, the only abortion facility in North Dakota, argues that the law takes away an option widely recognized as safe and effective by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical experts and professional organizations—needlessly forcing women seeking an abortion to undergo surgery even when such a procedure may be medically inadvisable. In addition, the law is incomprehensible and completely misconstrues the role of the federal Food and Drug Administration in approving drugs for the market. The law attempts to restrict medication abortion strictly to the regimen on FDA-approved labels, despite the fact that that regimen is outdated and inconsistent with medical advances with medication abortion made in the last decade. The FDA itself acknowledges that its approval of drug labels for marketing purposes is not intended to restrict alternative "off-label" use and that good medicine often requires such use of medication.