By Dave Andrusko
On Tuesday State District Judge Bruce Romanick rejected a request for a preliminary injunction, saying the request “is not appropriate and the Plaintiffs have presented no authority for the Court to grant the specific relief requested.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic, arguing that North Dakota’s SB 2150 was so vague that it put abortionists who performed an abortion at risk of prosecution. But Judge Romanick said he would not block a part of the law “that doctors say puts them at risk of prosecution if they perform an abortion to save a patient’s life or health,” reported Jack Dura for the Associated Press.
Judge Romanick said the plaintiffs appeared to request that he,
“by way of a preliminary injunction, change application of the exception from ‘reasonable medical judgment’ to ‘good faith medical judgment.’ Plaintiffs have cited the Court with no legal authority that would allow the Court to re-write the statute in this manner under the pretense of providing injunctive relief.”
State Senator Jane Myrdal, “who introduced the bill in 2023, approved of the court’s ruling,” according to Madeline Yingling. “I think we have something that’s very clear for physicians to see,” she stated. “It’s common sense what we put in as far as the health exceptions… and interpreting it simply shouldn’t be that hard for physicians.”
The legislature initially passed HB 1466 in 2007 as a “trigger” ban intended to limit abortion services if the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established the constitutional right to abortion. When the Supreme Court reversed Roe in June 2022, North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley immediately triggered the ban. The state Supreme Court blocked HB 1466 in March 2023, finding the state constitution implicitly included the right to an abortion to preserve the pregnant person’s health or life. The following month, the North Dakota legislature passed the amended ban, SB 2150, that was at issue in Tuesday’s decision.
But there is much yet to clarify. For example, Judge Romanick wrote that he is yet to rule whether the law violates the state constitution.
“The Court specifically notes that it will certainly have to decide the ultimate constitutional issues in this case following the presentation of testimony and evidence to the Court,” Romanick wrote in his decision. “The parties, thus far, have only presented written and oral arguments to the Court. The Court’s decision in this order in no way limits the Court’s ultimate decisions in this matter.”
A jury trial is currently set for August 2024.