Abortion Remains Legal in North Dakota as Court Blocks Total Ban
Center’s case to continue in lower court as it argues ban is unconstitutional under North Dakota’s constitution.
The case against North Dakota’s total abortion ban took another step forward today as the state Supreme Court ruled that the law will remain blocked, allowing abortion care to continue while the case proceeds in a lower court.
The ruling came in a case filed on behalf of abortion providers in July, soon after Roe v. Wade was overturned, by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners. The lawsuit argues that the ban is unconstitutional under the state’s constitution, which guarantees the rights of life, liberty, safety, and happiness—all of which protect the right to abortion. In its ruling today in Wrigley v. Romanick et al., the North Dakota Supreme Court found that the challenge to the ban is likely to succeed.
Read the court’s ruling.
The state’s law, H.B. 1466, was enacted in 2007 as a “trigger” ban to outlaw most abortion services in the state within 30 days of judgment if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The ban would make it a felony for abortion providers to provide care but would allow providers to raise affirmative defenses for abortions performed to save the life of the pregnant person or to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, and subject violators to a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The law, which was due to take effect on July 28, was successfully blocked by the lawsuit from taking effect.
“Today, the court rightfully stopped one of the most extreme laws in the country from taking effect and depriving North Dakotans of their reproductive freedom,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Under the state constitution, North Dakotans are promised the rights to life, liberty, safety, and happiness, all of which protect the right to abortion. In state after state, people have made clear that they want this right protected, yet state officials continue to ignore the will of their citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect North Dakotans and the fundamental human rights of all people.”
Post-Roe State Abortion Ban Litigation
The Center and partners continue to work to preserve abortion access as anti-abortion lawmakers move to enforce state abortion bans post-Roe.
The court’s ruling further states, “North Dakota’s history and traditions, as well as the plain language of its Constitution, establish that the right of a woman to receive an abortion to preserve her life or health was implicit in North Dakota’s concept of ordered liberty before, during, and at the time of statehood…. it is clear the citizens of North Dakota have a right to enjoy and defend life and a right to pursue and obtain safety, which necessarily includes a pregnant woman has a fundamental right to obtain an abortion to preserve her life or her health.”
The plaintiffs, Red River Women’s Clinic and its medical director Dr. Kathryn Eggleston, are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Sambor Goetz LLP. The case background can be found here.