North Dakota judge won't temporarily block part of abortion law for doctors

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota judge on Tuesday denied a temporary block on a part of the state's revised abortion laws so that doctors can perform the procedure to save a patient's life or health.

State District Judge Bruce Romanick said the request for a preliminary injunction “is not appropriate and the Plaintiffs have presented no authority for the Court to grant the specific relief requested.”

The request asked the judge to bar the state from enforcing the law against physicians who use their “good-faith medical judgment” to perform an abortion because of complications that could pose "a risk of infection, hemorrhage, high blood pressure, or which otherwise makes continuing a pregnancy unsafe.”

North Dakota outlaws all abortions, except in cases in which women could face death or a “serious health risk.” People who perform abortions could be charged with a felony under the law, but patients would not.

The state's revised abortion laws also provide an exception for pregnancies caused by rape and incest, but only in the first six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. It also allows for treatment of ectopic and molar pregnancies, which are nonviable situations.

The Red River Women’s Clinic sued the state last year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion.

The lawsuit targeted the state’s since-repealed trigger ban — designed to go into effect immediately if the court overturned Roe v. Wade — as unconstitutional. The clinic moved from Fargo to neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion is legal.

Jack Dura, The Associated Press