Sanford Health Helps North Dakota’s Lone Abortion Business Stay Open

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2014   |   2:17PM   |   Fargo, ND

The Red River Clinic, the sole public abortion business in North Dakota, reportedly performs an average of 1,200 abortions a year. Yet its fly-in abortionists have no admitting privileges with local hospitals, should a woman suffer complications from her abortion.

The North Dakota legislature approved a bill which would require all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Because the abortion business couldn’t find a hospital to enter into an agreement with it, the abortion facility would have to close.

sanfordhealthBut news reports indicate Sanford Health has stepped in to credential the Red River Clinic’s abortion practitioners so it can continue doing abortions.

A Dakotas-based health care system has granted hospital-admitting privileges to doctors at North Dakota’s sole abortion provider, which would bring the Fargo clinic into compliance with a new state law.

In a statement Thursday to The Associated Press, Sanford Health said physicians at the Red River Women’s Clinic have been credentialed at its hospital in Fargo.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is helping the Red River Women’s Clinic, filed a lawsuit in state court last year challenging the law that requires doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion facility.

The case was slated for trial this week but was taken off the docket as a result of settlement talks, which the New York-based group announced this week without elaborating.

Sanford Health is a Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D. -based health system. It bills itself as the nation’s largest not-for-profit rural health care provider, with locations in 126 communities in nine states.

It’s unclear when Sanford granted credentials to the three doctors at the abortion clinic.

Sanford’s statement said its approval of admitting privileges is “based on objective criteria that is completely focused on protecting patients and providing safe patient care.” The health system says the criteria “is applied in a neutral unbiased manner.”

Eight states including North Dakota have passed laws requiring an abortion provider to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. They only have taken effect in Utah, Tennessee and Texas, although a court challenge looms there. Judges have blocked similar legislation in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

ACTION: Contact Sanford Health to complain at