WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 26, 2013, 04:35 PM

Dalrymple signs all three North Dakota anti-abortion bills, anticipates court battles

BISMARCK – Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed three abortion-limiting bills passed by the Legislature, giving North Dakota the most anti-abortion laws of any U.S. state and setting up legal challenges over provisions critics say are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.

By: Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

BISMARCK – Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed three abortion-limiting bills passed by the Legislature, giving North Dakota the most anti-abortion laws of any U.S. state and setting up legal challenges over provisions critics say are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.

Dalrymple acknowledged the likelihood of an ensuing court battle - calling one of the laws a “legitimate attempt” to “discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade” - and asked lawmakers set aside money for litigation.

The laws are set to take effect on Aug. 1.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota’s sole abortion provider, said she has contacted attorneys at the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national group that advocates for abortion rights and has represented the Fargo clinic in an ongoing court challenge over a state law passed in 2011 that prohibits certain drugs from being used for medication abortions.

In a statement, the Center for Reproductive Rights’ president and CEO, Nancy Northup, said the state has “set a new standard for extreme hostility toward the rights and health of women, the U.S. Constitution and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent.”

“We are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to keep the Red River Women’s Clinic’s doors open to the nearly 1,500 women from North Dakota and surrounding area who seek reproductive health care services there each year,” Northup said in the statement.

Here is the full text of the statement released at 11 a.m. by Dalrymple:

“Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed HB 1305, HB 1456 and SB 2305 and provided the following statements to the Legislature:

North Dakota House and Senate presiding officers:

I have signed HB 1305 which would ban abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities.

I have signed HB 1456 which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question. The Legislative Assembly before it adjourns should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General.

I have signed SB 2305 which requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota. The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions.”

Northup said in her statement that the U.S. Supreme Court “has been clear in protecting women’s constitutional right to make their own decision whether to continue or end a pre-viability pregnancy based on the complicated individual and personal circumstances they face.”

“This law is merely a cynical attempt to choke off access to the reproductive health care services they need to exercise that right and give politicians license to question and intrude upon women’s personal and private decisions,” she said.

Northup said the Center for Reproductive Rights is committed to challenging the fetal heartbeat law.

A law similar to SB 2305 – the requirement that abortion provider have hospital admitting privileges – passed in Mis-sissippi and is in pending litigation, Northup said.

Northup said attorneys at the Center for Reproduc-tive Rights are “reviewing the impact” of the law banning abortions for gender selection or genetic fetal anomalies.

Whether the governor would sign the bills, the first of which was passed March 15, had been much anticipated by both those who support and oppose abortion rights.

Trish Thorson, 51, of south Fargo, was one of many who attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary this morning. As she left the church, Thorson said she hadn’t heard about Dalrymple signing the bills but welcomed the development.

“It’s just a glorious day. Coming from Mass and this beautiful service and then hearing this,” she said. “With the new Pope, I just feel like there’s an awakening coming in Christianity, and this is just another sign.”

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said in a statement that Dalrymple had with his signature “severely compromised the health and well-being of all North Dakota women and their families.”

“This sweeping package of bills will not stand up to constitutional scrutiny. But as a result of North Dakota’s leaders’ disregard for women’s health, the state will endure months and years of drawn-out litigation costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. What a reckless and appalling waste of resources,” Stoesz said.