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North Dakota high court reinstates RU-486 regulations

The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

North Dakota high court reinstates RU-486 regulations

North Dakota’s Supreme Court voted Tuesday to overturn a lower court’s decision striking down a 2011 law regulating the abortifacient RU-486.

North Dakota’s only abortion facility, located in Fargo, immediately stopped offering chemical abortions following the ruling, even though the state attorney general said it had two weeks to appeal or abide by the decision.

“I’ve directed staff to not offer (medication abortions) effective today,” Red River Women’s Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker said Wednesday. “I didn’t want to put any staff in jeopardy.” The eight women scheduled for chemical abortions this week already have been told to “prepare for other options.”

The 2011 law requires drugs used in abortions to be labeled for that use. RU-486 uses a combination of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Misoprostol induces labor after a woman takes two doses of mifepristone, but it’s only labeled for treating stomach ulcers. Twenty percent of the abortions performed at the North Dakota facility use the mifepristone and misoprostol combination, Kromenaker said.

Although the three out-of-state abortionists at the facility mostly perform surgical abortions, the court’s decision will save women’s lives, said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, which provided the model legislation.

“We know that women have died when given life-ending, chemical abortion drugs,” she said. “Big Abortion is determined to increase profits and take advantage of women by selling the dangerous drugs in ways that have been linked to at least eight deaths. But one by one, courts are telling Big Abortion ‘no.’”

Last week, an Oklahoma judge allowed similar legislation to take effect in that state Nov. 1 while the court evaluates a legal challenge. The law requires adherence to Food and Drug Administration protocol when administering RU-486. The Oklahoma law’s House sponsor, Rep. Randy Grau, said it’s intended to protect women.

In North Dakota, the court’s decision could have significantly damaged pro-life efforts, highlighting the need for the human life amendment on the ballot next week, said Janne Myrdal, North Dakota state director for Concerned Women for America. Known as Measure 1, the amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot would ensure an inalienable right to life at all stages of life.

But, District Judge Wickham Corwin said in his ruling that the state’s constitution preserved a fundamental right to abortion. The same issue divided the state’s Supreme Court.

“We dodged a bullet today, but Measure 1 is the only way to ensure that we don’t get a future ruling imposing virtually unlimited abortion,” Myrdal said. “We need Measure 1 to protect ourselves against judges imposing a right to abortion in our state that is far broader than what is required by federal court decisions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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