This case challenged North Dakota Senate Bill 2305, which requires any
physician providing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital
within 30 miles of the abortion facility. SB 2305 was set to take effect on
August 1, 2013, but the District Court blocked its enforcement on July 31,
2013. The physicians at Red River Women’s Clinic have since obtained privileges
at a nearby hospital, and the case was settled in March 2014. This challenge was initiated in June 2013 via
a supplemental complaint to another Center case, which seeks to overturn House
Bill 1297’s restriction on medication abortion.
Plaintiff(s): Red River Women’s Clinic and Dr. Kathryn Eggleston
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Joseph Turman, Turman &, Lang, Ltd., Jared Bobrow and
Carmen Bremer, Weil, Gotshal &, Manges LLP
Summary: Red River Women’s Clinic (RRWC) is the only abortion
provider in North Dakota, and provides a range of reproductive health services
to the women of the state, as well as women who travel from South Dakota and
North Dakota legislature passed Senate Bill 2305 during the 2013 Legislative
Session, and the bill had an effective date of August 1, 2013. SB 2305 requires
any physician providing abortions to obtain admitting privileges, including
privileges to perform “the abortion procedure,” at a hospital within 30 miles
of the abortion facility.
The District Court granted leave for the Clinic to file a supplemental complaint
within its ongoing
case regarding medication abortion because there are so many overlapping
questions of fact and law between the two cases. This new legal challenge was
filed in June 2013.
Because of the lengthy and uncertain process of obtaining admitting
privileges for the Clinic’s doctors, SB 2305 would have effectively banned all
abortions in North Dakota upon its effective date. While the Center worked
tirelessly with the Clinic to apply for admitting privileges at all nearby
hospitals, it was necessary to also seek out a preliminary injunction, which
was granted by the District Court in late July, to keep the Clinic open while
the physicians’ applications for admitting privileges were under consideration.
The State appealed this preliminary injunction decision on SB 2305 to the
North Dakota Supreme Court, alongside their appeal of the District Court’s
finding regarding the unconstitutionality of HB 1297. Oral argument for both
appeals was held on December 11, 2013.
Ultimately, Plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement with the State, confirming
and ensuring that the Clinic can stay open with the privileges obtained. The
District Court approved the settlement, lifted the preliminary injunction, and dismissed
the supplemental complaint without prejudice, allowing the Clinic to reopen the
suit if necessary in the future. On March 21, 2014, the North Dakota Supreme
Court dismissed the appeal of the SB 2305 preliminary injunction as a moot
Red River Women’s Clinic is now able to continue
providing safe and legal reproductive health services to women from across and
outside of the state.