Judge issues preliminary injunction against North Dakota pro-life law

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Wickham Corwin

Judge Wickham Corwin

Following a 30-minute hearing, East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin signed a preliminary injunction yesterday which temporarily blocks a law that requires abortionists to have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. It is Judge Corwin’s latest attack on North Dakota pro-life laws.

Two and a half-weeks ago, Corwin permanently enjoined a 2011 North Dakota law which mandated 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.

Yesterday’s action sprung from Corwin’s decision in June to combine the lawsuit against the 2011 law with the 2013 requirement that abortionists have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. He has said the 2013 law (SB 2305) raises the same “legal and factual matters” as the 2011 legislation. Corwin rejected the state’s position that the two laws are “separate and distinct.”

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SB 2305 was signed into law on March 26 and had been set to take effect on Thursday.

Given his posture, it was no surprise that his decision was no surprise. “Certainly none of this comes as a surprise,” Corwin said from the bench. “I haven’t heard anything in the last 15 minutes or so that changes my understanding or the facts or my thinking regarding the appropriate outcome.”

The Red River Women’s Clinic is the state’s lone abortion clinic, performing 1,200 abortions annually. According to the Associated Press, the abortion clinic “is served by out-of-state physicians licensed to practice in North Dakota. The nearest abortion clinics are four hours south in Sioux Falls, S.D., and four hours southeast in Minneapolis.”

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