On Wednesday a state judge in North Dakota ruled that a legal challenge to the state’s admitting privileges law filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) can move forward. The challenge was filed as a supplement to an earlier lawsuit that CRR filed in 2011. That lawsuit challenges a North Dakota law regulating medication abortions and resulted in the law being permanently blocked in April.
SB 2305, which was signed into law on March 26, imposes medically unwarranted requirements that any physician performing abortions in the state must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. A nearly identical measure in Mississippi was signed into law last year and has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge after CRR challenged the law on behalf of the state’s last abortion clinic and its doctors. Alabama also has a similar law facing legal challenge, while in Wisconsin an admitting privileges law has been passed but not yet signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
CRR Staff Attorney Autumn Katz said the following in a statement in response to Wednesday’s ruling:
We are pleased that the judge has allowed our legal challenge to the state’s medically unwarranted admitting privileges law to supplement an existing lawsuit against North Dakota’s unconstitutional restrictions on medication abortion. Because the court has already considered many of the facts about the safety and quality of care provided at the Red River Women’s Clinic, we believe today’s decision will expedite the litigation and ultimately result in both laws being permanently struck down as unconstitutional.
Now that the case has been allowed to move forward, the court will next consider CRR’s motion to block the law before it is scheduled to take effect in August. A hearing on that motion has not yet been scheduled.