NEWSFLASH: North Dakota Court Restricts Medication Abortions

The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a state law restricting medication abortions will be allowed to take effect, severely limiting women’s access to a safe, legal medical procedure.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which first filed a lawsuit challenging the bill in July 2011:

Today’s decision directly conflicts with courts across the U.S. that have rejected the idea that politicians have any place in the practice of medicine or in women’s deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies, their health, their families and their future.

The sole abortion clinic in the state has, as of Wednesday, stopped providing drug-facilitated abortions. Fearing legal action, Red River Women’s Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker told the Associated Press: “I’ve directed staff to not offer [medication abortions] effective today. I didn’t want to put any staff in jeopardy.”

One in four women who end a pregnancy in the first nine weeks do so through non-surgical medication abortion—now, North Dakota women no longer have that option.

The law, HB 1297, allows only the outdated medication-abortion protocol for mifepristone approved by the FDA, and bans the off-label use of misoprostol in inducing abortions.

Three of the five Supreme Court judges agreed that the law violates the federal constitution, but it takes at least four of five to make a constitutional ruling in the state.

Said Northrup,

The politicians pushing for these unconstitutional and downright dangerous restrictions have had only one goal in mind: prevent North Dakota women—whom already face incredible obstacles to the severely limited reproductive health care services in their state—from exercising their legal right to abortion

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user macwagen licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.