Physicians Say North Dakota Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional, Unscientific

(CN) – The American Medical Association filed suit against North Dakota Tuesday over a law that would require physicians to tell their patients that drug-induced abortions can be reversed.

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed House Bill 1336 – also known as the Compelled Reversal Mandate – earlier this year, and the law is set to take effect Aug. 1.  

“The Compelled Reversal Mandate forces physicians to tell their patients that medication induced abortion may be reversible, a claim wholly unsupported by the best, most reliable scientific evidence, contravening their ethical and legal obligations as medical providers,” the 23-page complaint states. “Plaintiffs object to this forced speech, which requires physicians to deliver to their patients false, misleading, non-medical information with which they disagree.”

The law also compels physicians to explain the medical risks associated with drug-induced abortions and to tell their patients that an abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The Red River Women’s Clinic, a plaintiff in the suit, is the sole abortion clinic in North Dakota. The clinic’s director, Tammi Kromenaker, said H.B. 1336 has no scientific basis.

“The women we serve come to us assuming we will provide them with medically-accurate information and care,” Kromenaker said. “North Dakota’s laws are forcing us to say things that violate our medical ethics and will soon force us to say things that are simply false and not backed up by science.”  

The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo provides a number of services including abortions, which are performed until approximately 16 weeks and six days from date of a woman’s last menstrual period. Pharmaceutically-induced abortions are the most common form of abortion that the clinic performs, according to the complaint. 

The plaintiffs say the law violates physicians’ First Amendment rights by requiring them, under the threat of criminal penalty, to recite a “controversial government-mandated message that they would not otherwise recite and refer their patients to government-created materials … about an experimental medical treatment that has not been proven safe and effective or approved by the FDA, that violates accepted ethical standards and best practices in medical care,” and is in opposition to physicians’ viewpoints.  

Liz Brocker, the public information officer for the North Dakota Attorney General’s office, told Courthouse News Tuesday the office had received and is reviewing the complaint.

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