Choice Comes Out on Top

Anti-choice advocates in North Dakota sought to test the limits of the critical Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade. In 2013, North Dakota enacted the most severe anti-choice legislation in the country, banning abortion at the the detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy,  a period before many women even discover they’re pregnant. In 2013 the ban was blocked, and the state’s sole family planning clinic that offers abortion services, the Red River Women’s Clinic, was able to stay open throughout the ensuing political and legal dispute. After two years of battles, a federal appeals court struck down the ban this week. As a result, the clinic remains open and one of the strictest restrictions on family planning care in the country has been halted.

While this should “permanently” defeat the ban, North Dakota’s anti-choice advocates could reignite the battle if they appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. At stake is more than a clinic or politics; at stake are the rights and health of women across North Dakota. With over 70,000 square miles and a population of around 740,000, North Dakota women need the  family planning care offered by the Red River Women’s Clinic. Already many women have to travel hundreds of miles in the state to access preventive care or get an abortion. The closure of the clinic would increase that distance and women to cross state lines for proper care. When access to family planning care reduces rates of unintended and teen pregnancy as well as abortion, this calls into question the motives behind the most vocal in North Dakota’s anti-choice movement.

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