Wyoming and North Dakota Abortion Bans Blocked

Wyoming and North Dakota judges blocked enforcement of “trigger” bans on abortions on Wednesday, allowing abortion providers to resume services in the states.

A judge in Wyoming sided with a firebombed women’s health clinic and others on Wednesday who argued the ban would harm health care workers and their patients, while a North Dakota judge sided with Red River Women’s Clinic, the state’s only abortion clinic.

The Wyoming abortion “trigger” law was set to effect on Wednesday, and the North Dakota law on Thursday.

Wyoming attorneys disagreed over whether the state constitution provided a right to abortion that would nullify the state’s abortion “trigger” law.

Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens argued that the ban placed pregnant women at risk and their doctors in a difficult position as they weighed serious medical risks against the possibility of prosecution.

“That is a possible irreparable injury to the plaintiffs. They are left with no guidance,” Owens said.

Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick sided with Red River Women’s Clinic in North Dakota, which said the state had moved quickly to let the law take effect.

The Red River Women’s Clinic also argued that a 30-day clock should not have begun until the US Supreme Court issued its certified judgment on Tuesday.

The ruling will provide the Red River clinic more time to relocate to Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion is legal. 

North Dakota’s proposed law would make abortion illegal in the state except in cases of rape, incest, or endangering the mother’s life.

Meetra Mehdizadeh, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the plaintiffs “will do everything in our power to fight this ban and keep abortion accessible in North Dakota for as long as possible.”

“If allowed to go into effect, this near-total abortion ban would close the state’s sole abortion clinic, leaving North Dakotans with no clinic within the state to turn for essential health care,” Mehdizadeh said.

Wyoming and North Dakota joined other states such as Kentucky, Louisiana, and Utah, where judges have also blocked abortion bans.

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