By Dave Andrusko
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced this morning that a lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of the state’s lone abortion clinic has been settled.
Under SB 2305, challenged by the Red River Women’s Clinic, abortionists were required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.
CRR “said it would be impossible for the three out-of-state doctors who perform the roughly 1,200 abortions per year at the clinic to make the required number of hospital visits needed to gain admitting privileges,” the Associated Press’ James MacPherson reported.
But hints that a settlement had been reached leaked out last month.
This morning Stenehjem said the lawsuit became moot when Sanford Health, a Fargo and Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based health system, said abortionists from the Red River Women’s Clinic had been credentialed.
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More specifically, the Forum of Fargo‑Moorhead reported that “Sanford Health last month acknowledged that it had granted admitting privileges to doctors for the clinic under its longstanding ‘open privileges’ policy at its hospital. Physicians, however, do not have privileges to perform abortions at Sanford.”
“Initially, in their lawsuit, they didn’t think they could get hospital-admitting privileges and that it violated the state constitution,” Stenehjem said. “They did get hospital-admitting privileges, so there is no reason to move forward with this litigation. The parties agreed to dismiss the case with no costs or attorney fees paid to either party.”
In addition, “The agreement requires the physicians performing abortions at the clinic to maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital for as long as the law remains in effect, Stenehjem said,” according to the AP. “It also requires any additional physicians to get admitting privileges at a local hospital, he said.”
The law was temporarily enjoined in August 2013 by East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin who has made a career out of taking out pro-life laws.
The North Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on December 11. The court had not ruled on the lawsuit.