This case challenged North Dakota Senate Bill 2305, which requires any physician providing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. SB 2305 was set to take effect on August 1, 2013, but the District Court blocked its enforcement on July 31, 2013. The physicians at Red River Women’s Clinic have since obtained privileges at a nearby hospital, and the case was settled in March 2014. This challenge was initiated in June 2013 via a supplemental complaint to another Center case, which seeks to overturn House Bill 1297’s restriction on medication abortion.
Plaintiff(s): Red River Women's Clinic and Dr. Kathryn Eggleston
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Joseph Turman, Turman &, Lang, Ltd., Jared Bobrow and Carmen Bremer, Weil, Gotshal &, Manges LLP
Summary: Red River Women's Clinic (RRWC) is the only abortion provider in North Dakota, and provides a range of reproductive health services to the women of the state, as well as women who travel from South Dakota and Minnesota. The North Dakota legislature passed Senate Bill 2305 during the 2013 Legislative Session, and the bill had an effective date of August 1, 2013. SB 2305 requires any physician providing abortions to obtain admitting privileges, including privileges to perform “the abortion procedure,” at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility.
The District Court granted leave for the Clinic to file a supplemental complaint within its ongoing case regarding medication abortion because there are so many overlapping questions of fact and law between the two cases. This new legal challenge was filed in June 2013.
Because of the lengthy and uncertain process of obtaining admitting privileges for the Clinic’s doctors, SB 2305 would have effectively banned all abortions in North Dakota upon its effective date. While the Center worked tirelessly with the Clinic to apply for admitting privileges at all nearby hospitals, it was necessary to also seek out a preliminary injunction, which was granted by the District Court in late July, to keep the Clinic open while the physicians’ applications for admitting privileges were under consideration.
The State appealed this preliminary injunction decision on SB 2305 to the North Dakota Supreme Court, alongside their appeal of the District Court’s finding regarding the unconstitutionality of HB 1297. Oral argument for both appeals was held on December 11, 2013.
Ultimately, Plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement with the State, confirming and ensuring that the Clinic can stay open with the privileges obtained. The District Court approved the settlement, lifted the preliminary injunction, and dismissed the supplemental complaint without prejudice, allowing the Clinic to reopen the suit if necessary in the future. On March 21, 2014, the North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the SB 2305 preliminary injunction as a moot issue.
Red River Women’s Clinic is now able to continue providing safe and legal reproductive health services to women from across and outside of the state.