North Dakota Supreme Court upholds restrictions on medication abortions
North Dakota Supreme Court upholds restrictions on medication abortions

[JURIST] The North Dakota Supreme Court [official profile] on Tuesday affirmed [opinion] an existing state law [text] limiting the use of drugs in abortion procedures. This ruling reversed a previous decision by a district judge, who found that the law violates the state constitution. The state requires a minimum of four out of the five Supreme Court justices to agree before a law can be deemed unconstitutional. However, two of the justices found that the 2011 law was not a violation. According to the law, misoprostol, which is often mixed with mifepristone for medication abortions, is technically a treatment for stomach ulcers. Because it is not labeled as an abortion-inducing drug, it has not met the protocol outlined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website], and therefore cannot be used. Abortion-rights advocates claim that this law will end the use of medications in abortion procedures.

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] continue to be a hot-button legal issue throughout the US, with a number of states proposing laws to limit abortions. An Oklahoma District Court judge announced last week that he will allow a law that bans abortion-inducing drugs [JURIST report] to take effect as planned on November 1. Last month Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed an appeal asking the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] to reverse a July ruling [JURIST report] that a 2012 state law requiring abortion clinic doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional. Also last month the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division ruled [JURIST report] that Alabama’s recently enacted [JURIST op-ed] requirement [HB 57] that all doctors who provide abortions must have staff privileges to perform designated procedures at a local hospital is unconstitutional. In April West Virginia’s governor vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. Also in April the Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas law similar to the one enacted in Alabama that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. In March the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that the Kansas legislature can withhold federal funding for two Planned Parenthood clinics.