On Wednesday, a state judge temporarily blocked North Dakota from enforcing provisions of a stringent abortion law that would have forced the state’s only abortion clinic to shut down — ensuring the clinic will be allowed to remain operating for now.
North Dakota’s law requires doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital. Since the state’s lone abortion clinic is staffed by out-of-state doctors without such privileges, the law would have effectively shuttered all abortion services in the state.
Several conservative states have been pursuing similar laws that indirectly aim to cut off access to abortion by targeting abortion providers, forcing them to meet new standards that medical professionals have called unnecessary and burdensome. The latest example is Texas, where new facility requirements for abortion providers could shut down 90 percent of the state’s clinics.
The state judge’s ruling comes on the heels of federal judge Daniel Hovland’s injunction against another anti-abortion provision in North Dakota that would have outlawed abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy — which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. In his decision, Hovland called the law “clearly… invalid and unconstitutional.”
The nearly record-breaking number of anti-abortion provisions that have been passed in 2013 will almost certainly be argued and decided before the Supreme Court, where abortion opponents hope to undo major protections extended under Roe v. Wade.