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UPDATE 1-Judges temporarily block North Dakota, Wyoming 'trigger' bans on abortions

UPDATE 1-Judges temporarily block North Dakota, Wyoming 'trigger' bans on abortions

Reuters · 07/27/2022 21:44
UPDATE 1-Judges temporarily block North Dakota, Wyoming 'trigger' bans on abortions

Adds Wyoming case

- Judges in North Dakota and Wyoming on Wednesday blocked enforcement of "trigger" bans on abortions, allowing abortion providers in those states to resume services after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.

Those two states join others including Kentucky, Louisiana and Utah where judges have blocked abortion bans, providing at least a temporary victory for abortion rights advocates following their defeat at the federal level.

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the 50-year precedent under Roe v. Wade and allowed states to prevent women from terminating their pregnancies, promoting a flurry of litigation in state courts.

In the North Dakota ruling, Red River Women's Clinic, the last abortion clinic in that state, can resume abortion care as the case proceeds in Burleigh County District Court.

Lawmakers in North Dakota in 2007 put in place the so-called "trigger" law intended to take effect if the high court reversed its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed access to abortion in the United States.

Judge Bruce Romanick issued the temporary injunction in favor of the abortion clinic in response to a suit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Dickson Law Office.

The Red River clinic contends the law violates its patients' rights to life, safety and happiness under the state constitution.

"If allowed to go into effect, this -total abortion ban would close the state's sole abortion clinic, leaving North Dakotans with clinic within the state to turn for essential health care," Meetra Mehdizadeh of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.

The -total ban bars pregnancies from being terminated in most cases, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or to protect a pregnant woman's life. It also makes it a felony for doctors to perform the procedure.

North Dakota is one of 13 states with trigger laws that were set to take effect if Roe were reversed.

Another of those states is Wyoming, where Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens issued a temporary restraining order to stop the abortion ban from taking effect.

"Today's ruling, while only a temporary victory, ensures that abortion care remains legal in Wyoming for the time being," Julie Burkhart, founder and president of Wellspring Health Access, which brought the suit, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Chris Reese and Kenneth Maxwell)