A state judge in North Dakota said Thursday that he will rule that a 2011 North Dakota law [HB 1297, PDF] that restricts drug-induced abortions is unconstitutional. Judge Wickham Corwin of the Cass County District Court [official website] announced [Inforum report] that the law creates an "insurmountable barrier" to abortion and fails to adequately protect women's reproductive rights. The abortion law, which Corwin first enjoined [JURIST report] in 2011, would prevent women from taking the abortion drug Mifeprex after seven weeks and would require women to take a second abortion drug at a clinic rather than taking it at home. The law would also increase the price of abortion drugs by 40 percent. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem [official profile] plans to appeal the ruling to the North Dakota Supreme Court [official website].
North Dakota [JURIST news archive] has been at the forefront recently of the ongoing debate on reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. Last week North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website] signed a measure [JURIST report] banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation based on the controversial premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Last month Dalrymple signed three laws, HB 1305, HB 1456 and SB 2305 [materials], which impose the nation's most severe restrictions on abortion [JURIST report]. These new laws, respectively, ban abortion [JURIST report] for the purpose of gender selection or genetic abnormalities, ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and require that any physician performing an abortion have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital.