A state judge in North Dakota has put a halt to the “trigger law” abortion ban that was set to come into effect on July 28, allowing the only remaining abortion clinic in the state to continue facilitating the procedure.
In 2007, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly passed a trigger law that was written to come into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade and restore, in whole or in part, the states’ authority to prohibit abortion.
The trigger law—which bans abortion except in the case of incest, rape, or the health of the mother—was supposed to take effect on the 30th day after the state attorney general certified that the official judgment had been issued by the Supreme Court.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley took that step on June 28, meaning that the trigger abortion ban was scheduled to come into effect on July 28.
The state’s sole abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic, filed a lawsuit arguing that Wrigley acted prematurely and that it takes 25 days after the Supreme Court releases an opinion for the court to issue an official judgment.
On July 27, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick ruled in favor of the clinic, agreeing with the argument.
“Although exceedingly rare, during the time for a petition for rehearing, the Supreme Court could alter or amended [sic] its original judgment and decisions, thereby rendering the original opinion moot,” the judge said. “Without the formal certification of the Supreme Court’s opinion, the lower courts cannot be guaranteed of the finality of the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Wrigley “prematurely attempted” to implement the trigger law, and the attorney general’s certification was improper without the U.S. Supreme Court’s certified judgment, Romanick wrote in his opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued its certified judgment in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on July 24.
Abortion Clinic Will Move to Minnesota
The North Dakota court granted the motion from Red River Women’s Clinic for a temporary restraining order prohibiting the implementation of the trigger law until the attorney general “follows the provisions outlined in the triggering language or until future order of the Court.”
Wrigley said he would deliver a new certification to the North Dakota Legislative Council by 6 p.m. on July 27, according to Valley News Live.
“In light of State District Court Judge Bruce Romanick’s decision issued today, I will officially re-certify what has been clear from the day that the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs: Roe v. Wade has been reversed, and [North Dakota’s abortion trigger law] shall be given its full effect, in accordance with its provisions,” he said.
Romanick’s ruling allows Red River Women’s Clinic, based in Fargo, North Dakota, to continue facilitating abortions in the state until the the trigger law officially comes into effect.
The clinic has plans to relocate a few miles across state lines to Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion is still legal, ABC News reported.