Judge permanently enjoins North Dakota law, will address separate pro-life law July 31

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Wickham Corwin

Judge Wickham Corwin

Given that he had telegraphed his intention in a three-day trial in April, it came as no surprise Monday when Judge Wickham Corwin unleashed a 58-page torrent of criticism in permanently enjoining a 2011 North Dakota law. Corwin had already granted an injunction preventing the law from taking effect .

The law mandates that if a drug is used to induce abortion its label must say it is intended to be used as an abortifacient. Misoprostol is one of the two drugs that make up the RU-486 abortion regimen but it is labeled for the treatment of stomach ulcers, not abortion.

Corwin not only wrote in his final ruling that “No compelling state interest justifies this infringement,” he also harshly criticized a state witness saying her “opinions lack scientific support, tend to be based on unsubstantiated concerns and are generally at odds with solid medical evidence.”

In fact, her credentials are impeccable. She is a respected medical doctor with years of clinical experience and also someone who has followed this issue for a number of years and published several journal articles dealing with the issue.

The state said it would appeal Corwin’s decision.

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“It’s something that the North Dakota Supreme Court has never addressed,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday. “This should be ruled on not by one trial judge but by the North Dakota Supreme Court. That’s only appropriate.”

Corwin’s decision is only the first step in a chain of events he initiated last month when he combine the lawsuit against the 2011 law with one that challenges a new requirement that doctors who perform abortions have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. He has said the 2013 law raises the same “legal and factual matters” as the 2011 legislation, according to the Associated Press.

“State attorneys have argued that the cases are ‘separate and distinct,’” wrote the AP’s James MacPherson. A hearing on admitting-privileges law is slated late this month in state district court in Fargo.

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