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A North Dakota judge continued a pause on a state trigger law that would have outlawed abortion in the state.
Extending a temporary restraining order that blocked the state abortion ban from going into effect on July 28, South Central Judicial District Judge Bruce Romanick granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday, ensuring abortion access would continue until a trial challenging the law was completed.
“The purpose of preliminary injunctions is to maintain the status quo during the pendency of the litigation and prevent harm,” Romanick wrote. “At this time, the status quo in North Dakota is not to restrict or limit abortions.”
Abortion rights protesters cheer at a rally following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Romanick leaned heavily on the fact that at a hearing earlier this month, neither party in the lawsuit presented any evidence to the court. Instead, both sides presented arguments for Romanick to consider — leaving the judge without any facts to adjudicate.
The judge was not persuaded by the abortion activists’ arguments that the state should block the law in question as it would lead to patients suffering “because they may face irreversible and potentially devastating health consequences.”
The activists backed up their position with a declaration from Red River Women’s Clinic, one of the parties in the suit, that the state needed to block the law because North Dakota couldn’t rely on neighboring states’ abortion clinics to safeguard its “citizens’ constitutional rights.”
Abortion rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
However, Romanick pointed to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision earlier this year that “made it clear the United States Constitution does not include a right to an abortion.”
While Romanick wasn’t convinced by the anti-abortion plaintiffs’ arguments on the merits of providing the procedure itself, he said he had little choice other than to maintain the status quo in the state.
The North Dakota Legislature passed an abortion ban in 2007, while Roe v. Wade was still in effect and such a law was considered unconstitutional. Although that law was designed to go into effect in the event Roe was overturned, Romanick wrote that, because the law has been in place and lain dormant for 15 years, there was no argument that the state would be harmed if the law was blocked.
North Dakota passed an abortion ban in 2007, but a judge ruled a preliminary injunction would maintain the status quo of allowing abortion in the state to continue. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
“The citizens have waited 15 years to have the statute enacted, in light of this length of time, any additional delay in the enactment of the statute would be minimal,” he wrote. “Therefore, any interest the State may have in effectuating the statute, at this time, is less than the injuries caused to RRWC.”
“The state has offered no evidence on how delaying the enactment of the statute during the pendency of this litigation implicates any additional harm than has already been in place for the last 15 years,” Romanick continued. “Whereas, RRWC outlines real and tangible harm to others if the statute goes into effect during this litigation.”
Max Thornberry is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. You can reach him at [email protected] and on Twitter @Max_Thornberry