North Dakota Judge Refuses to Overturn Abortion-Ultrasound Law, Clarifies Section

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

North Dakota Judge Refuses to Overturn Abortion-Ultrasound Law, Clarifies Section

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12
, 2009

Fargo, ND ( — A judge in North Dakota has refused to grant a request to the state’s only abortion business and overturn a law that allows women to see an ultrasound before an abortion. Because he said it was awkwardly worded, Judge Douglas Herman clarified the section pertaining to hearing the baby’s heartbeat.

Gov. John Hoeven signed the measure into law in May after the state legislature approved it on a lopsided vote.

The law requires that a woman seeking an abortion be offered the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her unborn child and hear the fetal heartbeat, which can begin as early as eighteen days after fertilization.

The Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion business in the state, filed a lawsuit to stop the law from taking effect on August 1.

While most abortion businesses do an ultrasound before an abortion is done on a woman and her unborn child, that doesn’t mean the mother will have a chance to see it.
Red River claims the law is confusing and would limit a woman’s ability to get an abortion. It also claims allowing a woman to hear the heartbeat of her baby is inconsistent with best medical practices and claims the cost of the equipment is too burdensome.

Today, Judge Herman clarified the law and said the Red River Women’s Clinic is required to offer women a chance to see the ultrasound but it is not required to automatically do it.

According to the Fargo Forum newspaper, Judge Herman said “it can be interpreted in a straight-forward manner requiring the Clinic simply to provide information as to auscultation services – in addition to the active services the Clinic itself offers — if available within the community.”

Suzanne Stolz, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion legal group, applauded the decision even though it didn’t get the temporary injunction against the law it sought.
Mary Spaulding Balch, an attorney with the National Right to Life Committee, previously talked with about the lawsuit.

“It’s unclear why a clinic, which claims to care about women, would be afraid to offer their patients all the vital and relevant information before performing a life-changing and intrusive medical procedure," she said.

“Diagnostic ultrasounds and listening to the fetal heartbeat provides mothers accurate information about the development of their unborn child. Why is the abortion industry afraid of these tools?” she asked.

Balch says the new North Dakota law joins six other states with similar provisions.

“We want women to be informed, and receive all possible information available – much of which has historically been omitted by those in the abortion industry,” Balch said. “It is shameful in our society that women cannot rely on abortionists to voluntarily provide them with information that would help them make the best decision for themselves and their unborn children."

North Dakota Right to Life, the North Dakota affiliate of Concerned Women for America and the North Dakota Catholic Conference supported the bill along with the North Dakota Family Alliance.

Pro-life advocates say the bills are important because the Red River Women’s Clinic is expected to set a record for the number of abortions it is doing annually.

The abortion center has been doing abortions for just over ten years and did a record 1,358 abortions in 2003 and another 1,238 abortions last year.

Related web sites:
North Dakota Legislature –
North Dakota Right to Life –
National Right to Life –

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