North Dakota lawyers fight new complaint in abortion lawsuitBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A legal challenge to a recently approved law restricting abortions in North Dakota shouldn't be combined with another lawsuit that attacks a ban on abortion-inducing medication, the state attorney general's office argues in a legal finding.
By: JAMES MacPHERSON,Associated Press, Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A legal challenge to a recently approved law restricting abortions in North Dakota shouldn't be combined with another lawsuit that attacks a ban on abortion-inducing medication, the state attorney general's office argues in a legal finding.
East Central Judge Wickham Corwin said at the close of a three-day trial last month that he will rule in favor of the state's sole abortion clinic in its challenge of a state law that limits the use of drugs to terminate pregnancies. Corwin has not issued a formal ruling on the lawsuit but has called the 2011 abortion legislation "simply wrongheaded."
New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Fargo's Red River Women's Clinic, filed a lawsuit in state court this month challenging a new state law that requires doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital-admitting privileges. The group said the 2013 law raises the same "legal and factual matters" as the 2011 legislation and wants it added to that lawsuit.
State attorneys argue that the cases are different.
"This case is all but done," the state said in its response, filed Wednesday. "Granting the plaintiffs' motion will improperly and unnecessarily delay resolution of this case for months and possibly years ..."
"These are separate and distinct causes of action and should be tried separately," said Doug Bahr, an assistant attorney general. The state intends to appeal the 2011 legislation to the state Supreme Court, he said.
"(Corwin) already has indicated how he will rule," Bahr said Thursday. "Once he issues a ruling, we can appeal. Delaying this doesn't seem to assist anyone. We want to get the case resolved."
Autumn Katz, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, last month argued successfully to shoot down the 2011 North Dakota law banning the widely accepted use of a medication that induces abortion. Katz said the state court has "considered many of the same facts about the safety and quality of care provided by the Red River Women's Clinic that is relevant to our proposed supplemental complaint filed earlier this month.
"We believe that by considering the medically unwarranted admitting privileges requirement in the same case, it will avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and ultimately expedite the litigation," she said.
The legislation requiring doctors who perform abortions was one of four measures Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law this past session that make North Dakota the most restrictive state in the nation in which to get an abortion. Lawmakers' intent is to close the Fargo abortion clinic and to challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
The new laws are slated to take effect Aug. 1. Center for Reproductive Rights officials have said they also plan to file lawsuits against two other abortion new abortion laws — including one that bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and before some women even know they're pregnant .