Case: Access Independent Health Services, Inc. v. Wrigley

08-2022-cv-01608 | North Dakota state trial court

Filed Date: July 6, 2022

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case is about North Dakota's trigger ban, which criminalized nearly all abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs. The Red River Women's Clinic, the only remaining abortion provider in North Dakota, and its medical director sought to block enforcement of the ban.  The abortion ban in question is North Dakota Century Code Section 12.1-31-12 (page 8) (the “Abortion Ban”), which was enacted by the legislature and signed by the Governor during the 2007 legislative session …

This case is about North Dakota's trigger ban, which criminalized nearly all abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs. The Red River Women's Clinic, the only remaining abortion provider in North Dakota, and its medical director sought to block enforcement of the ban. 

The abortion ban in question is North Dakota Century Code Section 12.1-31-12 (page 8) (the “Abortion Ban”), which was enacted by the legislature and signed by the Governor during the 2007 legislative session as House Bill 1466 (“H.B. 1466”). On June 28, 2022, four days after Dobbs was decided, the North Dakota Attorney General ("Defendant") declared the trigger for H.B. 1466 satisfied. The AG planned for the ban to be in full effect one month later on July 28. However, the Plaintiffs argued that the original language of H.B. 1466 required a judgment to be issued, rather than a mere opinion, and sought a declaration of such with a corresponding injunction delaying the ban. Further, the Plaintiffs challenged the entirety of the abortion ban on state constitutional due process grounds and asked that North Dakota courts permanently enjoin it. Represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and private counsel, Plaintiffs filed their complaint on July 6 in the South Central Judicial District of North Dakota.

Just a few weeks later, on July 27, 2022, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick granted Plaintiffs' motion for a temporary injunction, concluding that Defendant prematurely attempted to execute the triggering language, since the Supreme Court had not yet issued its judgment, as required by the Abortion Ban. The Court did not consider the merits of the state constitutional claims.

On August 25, 2022, Judge Romanick then granted a preliminary injunction. In this decision, the Court made no findings toward the substantial probability of succeeding on the merits, reserving such analysis for a motion on summary judgment or a trial. Instead, the Court based its decision to grant the preliminary injunction on the fact that if the Abortion Ban went into effect, it would cause irreparable harm to North Dakotans that outweighed any harm that delaying its enforcement would have on the state. On September 23, Judge Romanick upheld the injunction, against the State's request to lift the stay.

On October 11, 2022 the North Dakota Supreme Court ordered Judge Romanick to weigh the clinic's chances of succeeding and reconsider his earlier decision. On November 1, Judge Romanick again upheld the ban, concluding that the ban likely violated the state constitution because the trigger law isn’t rationally related to the state’s stated goal of protecting human life, given that it increases risks for pregnant people.

Defendant argued that Judge Romanick improperly applied injunction standards and abused his discretion. Defendant also sought a supervisory writ, a procedural device used to correct errors and prevent injustices when no alternative would work, from the North Dakota Supreme Court. The Plaintiffs have argued this is not the correct use of supervisory writ, and that Defendant hasn’t produced evidence to demonstrate an immediate risk of harm. The North Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether to lift the temporary injunction and let the Abortion Ban go into effect on November 29, 2022. That decision is pending.

Summary Authors

Sophia Bucci (11/27/2022)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

20220260

North Dakota Supreme Court Docket

Wrigley v. Romanick

North Dakota state supreme court

Nov. 22, 2022

Nov. 22, 2022

Docket

Complaint

July 6, 2022

July 6, 2022

Complaint

08-2022-cv-01608

Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction

July 27, 2022

July 27, 2022

Order/Opinion

08-2022-cv-01608

Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Aug. 25, 2022

Aug. 25, 2022

Order/Opinion

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: North Dakota

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Special Collection(s):

Abortion Trigger Ban Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 6, 2022

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Red River Women's Clinic, the only remaining abortion provider in North Dakota, and its medical director

Attorney Organizations:

Center for Reproductive Rights

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

North Dakota, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2022 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Complete abortion ban

Criminalization

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)

General:

Abortion

Affected Sex or Gender:

Female