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Federal judge partially dismisses challenge to North Dakota abortion law

A judge for the US District Court for the District of North Dakota [official website] on Wednesday partially dismissed a lawsuit against North Dakota's new law [HB 1305, PDF] that prohibits "abortion for sex selection or genetic abnormalities." US District Judge Daniel Hovland had granted the request [AP report] by the Red River Women's Clinic [clinic website] to drop the gender and genetic abnormalities part of the challenge on Monday. Still, the clinic is able to bring those challenges at a later time if it decides to do so. The clinic determined that the new law would not affect its abortion practice because it does it for reasons other than those specified in HB 1305. The Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website], which represents the Red River clinic, stated that it was not certain whether the new law would affect any women seeking abortion at the clinic.

North Dakota's laws against abortion have been successfully challenged in the recent months. In early August Cass County District Court Judge Wickham Corwin granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against legislation that would have forced the Red River Women's Clinic to close. The law [SB 2305, PDF] imposes requirements that any physician performing abortions in the state must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, but the Red River Clinic is frequently forced to fly in physicians from out of state. Any physician who fails to comply with the admitting privileges requirement could be prosecuted for a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine. In July another North Dakota abortion law was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the District of North Dakota. HB 1456 [text, PDF] is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country [NBC report] and would prohibit abortions after the point at which cardiac activity can be detected in a pregnancy, or as early as six weeks. North Dakota is one of many states [JURIST backgrounder] to enact restrictive abortion laws in recently. Earlier in July a state judge struck down [JURIST report] another North Dakota law placing limitations on drug-induced abortions. The Texas Senate passed [JURIST report] an abortion bill which bans abortions after 20 weeks. Also in July North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio [JURIST reports] enacted laws which place restrictions on abortion.

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