By Dale Wetzel
“A new state law could stop North Dakota’s only abortion clinic from using medicines to induce abortions, according to an abortion rights group that’s suing to block it from taking effect Aug. 1.
The suit was filed Monday in state district court in Fargo, where the Red River Women’s Clinic is located. The clinic is North Dakota’s only abortion provider. Doctors performed about 1,300 abortions at the clinic last year, and about 260 of the procedures were performed with drugs and not surgically, according to the lawsuit. The law says the use of any drug to induce abortion must satisfy “the protocol tested and authorized” by the FDA, and outlined in the drug’s label. Suzanne Novak, a senior staff attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, said ‘off-label’ drug use such as administering misoprostol for abortions is common and that North Dakota law encourages it in other contexts. She said complications from medication abortions are rare. The law ‘reflects an animus towards abortion, physicians who perform abortions, and women who obtain abortions,’ the lawsuit says. ‘Its purpose is to burden and reduce access to abortions in North Dakota.’ The Red River Women’s Clinic and its medical director, Dr. Kathryn Eggleston, are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Its defendants are Birch Burdick, the Cass County state’s attorney, and Dr. Terry Dwelle, the state health officer and chief administrator of North Dakota’s Department of Health.”