BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — The North Dakota Supreme Court Thursday has left in place an injunction against the state’s abortion “trigger law,” which means the strict abortion law remains on hold.

The “trigger law” is legislation limiting abortion in the North Dakota that was “triggered,” or automatically took effect, after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its Roe v. Wade decision in 2022.

The court noted, “the North Dakota Constitution guarantees North Dakota citizens the right to enjoy and defend life and the right to pursue and obtain safety, which necessarily includes a pregnant woman has a fundamental right to obtain an abortion to preserve her life or her health.”

Against that backdrop, it was the opinion of the court that a legal challenge to that law by Fargo-based Red River Women’s Clinic, at the time North Dakota’s only abortion clinic, “has a substantial likelihood of demonstrating N.D.C.C. §19 12.1-31-12 is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest, at least in the limited instances of life-saving and health-preserving circumstances. The district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the preliminary injunction. We deny the requested relief and leave the preliminary injunction in place.”

You can read and download the full opinion here.

The abortion trigger law was set to go into effect in July, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic by the New York-based Center For Reproductive Rights put the law on hold July 27, 2022.

The clinic shut its doors this summer and moved operations a short distance from Fargo to Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion remains legal. But the clinic’s owner is still pursuing the lawsuit.

“Today, the court rightfully stopped one of the most extreme laws in the country from taking effect and depriving North Dakotans of their reproductive freedom,” Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said of Thursday’s decision. “Under the state constitution, North Dakotans are promised the rights to life, liberty, safety, and happiness, all of which protect the right to abortion. In state after state, people have made clear that they want this right protected, yet state officials continue to ignore the will of their citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect North Dakotans and the fundamental human rights of all people.”

“The court made the right decision and sided with the people of North Dakota today,” Red River Women’s Clinic Director Tammi Kromenaker said in a statement. “Those seeking abortion care know what’s best for themselves and their families and should be able to access such essential services if and when they need it. While I’m heartbroken that we have been forced to close our doors here in Fargo, we will continue to serve the region at our new clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota.”

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, reacting to the state supreme court opinion, said in a statement, “The North Dakota Supreme Court today chooses a path of its very own, by holding there is now also an un-defined “health” exception to abortion regulation [in the state]. Our Supreme Court did this without explicit support from our state Constitution, and without support from legislative enactments in our history of abortion regulation. In so doing, North Dakota’s Supreme Court appears to have taken on the role of a legislative body, a role our constitution does not afford them. … Thankfully, our legislature has spent the past two months working on legislation that recrafts North Dakota’s abortion laws, and they will now have the opportunity to enact the will of North Dakotans, aware of the latest North Dakota Supreme Court pronouncement.”

Katie Christensen, North Dakota State Director, External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, issued this statement: “The court’s decision today is an enormous victory for doctors, pregnant people, and all North Dakotans. People need and deserve access to abortion care, and today the court said that remains possible. The decision about whether, when, or how to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions we make. A person should have the right to make decisions about their reproductive health care and future, not politicians.”