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North Dakota bishops welcome abortion clinic's move to drop lawsuit

 | 
Bismarck, N.D.

The North Dakota Catholic Conference welcomed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging a 2013 law requiring doctors at the state's only abortion clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo withdrew the suit March 14 after a local health care system certified physicians working at the clinic to admit patients.

"So long as abortion is legal, the health and safety of women having abortions must be protected," said a statement from the Catholic conference, which represents the state's bishops. "We are pleased that the abortion clinic decided to comply with this common sense law rather than tie up the courts with its attempt to invent an unfettered right to abortion."

The Catholic conference expressed concern that "the clinic and its out-of-state lawyers were attempting to nullify common sense laws passed by the North Dakota legislature."

The statement also called for passage of a Human Life Amendment on the ballot in November. The amendment would prevent actions by courts to nullify bills limiting abortion and implementing safety measures for women's health care.

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The clinic's lawsuit stemmed from three abortion bills signed into law in March: one to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital; another to ban abortion for the purpose of sex selection or genetic abnormality; and a third to ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. A U.S. District Court judge has blocked the 20-week ban from going into effect on the grounds it is unconstitutional.

The requirement for admitting privileges threatened to close Red River. But the clinic, assisted by the Center for Reproductive Rights, filed suit, leading to the agreement with the state.

Abortion opponents in many states have promoted the hospital admitting privilege requirement as a way to improve the quality of care women receive. Opponents of the provision say such laws restrict abortion availability, especially in rural areas, and that such privileges are unnecessary to ensure safety.

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