Red River Women's Clinic, the
only abortion provider in North Dakota.
As Robin Marty points out
, neither the law banning abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is heard or the one that bans abortions after conception will end legal abortions in North Dakota. It is, instead, the law that likely will shut down the state's only abortion clinic in Fargo.
Five pieces of forced-birther legislation landed on Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s desk. He signed three of them today. These three ban abortions undertaken because of gender or genetic abnormalities, ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is heard (which can be as early as six weeks) and impose more stringent rules on abortion clinics and the physicians performing the procedure. There is also a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation and place a "personhood" resolution on the 2014 ballot whose passage by the voters would recognize and protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development," which means from conception onward.
The bills have all kinds of hurdles to overcome before being implemented, including the fact that three of them are brazenly unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides to reverse Roe v. Wade.
The more worrisome and immediately relevant proposal requires that physicians who perform abortions acquire admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. This is medically unnecessary and bureaucratically problematic, one of the many arrows in the forced-birthers' quiver. It's a TRAP law—Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers—one of scores passed nationwide over the past several decades since Roe made abortion legal nationwide.
There is only one abortion clinic in North Dakota. It's Fargo's Red River Women's Clinic.
The nearest hospital is just five blocks away, but it imposes a 10-admitted-patients-per-year rule before granting admitting privileges to a physician:
“I’ve had one time that I’ve had to admit a patient in the last ten years,” [Tammi Kromenaker, the director of Red River Women’s Clinic] explained. “We are very selective about the physicians we hire for our clinic, because we know we are a target. As the only clinic in the state, of course we have worked to ensure that we have the highest quality doctors. I would never employ a doctor who had to admit ten patients a year. That would mean they were a terrible doctor.”
The other hospital is five miles away. As Marty writes, if there were a true emergency, "the clinic would have to transfer patients further away, which is more dangerous than if the law was never proposed in the first place." But women's health has zero to do with what those who pushed this this bill into law care about. They want Red River closed. Period. Please continue reading below the fold to see how North Dakota isn't the only place where this is happening.
It's the same maneuver taken by the forced-birthers in Mississippi, passing a law last year requiring admitting privileges at a local hospital as a requirement for abortion clinics. Because Mississippi physicians fear for their medical practices, if not their lives, the state's only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, has hired out-of-state doctors to perform the procedures. But, Catch-22, out-of-state doctors can't obtain admitting privileges at Mississippi hospitals. The clinic was notified in January that its license may be revoked. The state health department has scheduled a hearing on the revocation for April 18. That's what Red River Women's Clinic can expect now that Dalyrimple has signed the bill into law.
In January, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, MSNBC ran a long segment that included an interview with the director of the only remaining abortion clinic in another state, Arkansas. With his face disguised thanks to the ever-present chance that a forced-birther will decide assassination is the proper action, he said:
Prior to Roe v. Wade, the number one killer of women of child-bearing age was complications associated with abortion. And now it's not in the top 100 causes of death in women of this age group. I think that's something that has been forgotten by a younger group of medical providers. They just haven't seen the consequences. And the American people have forgotten, as a general rule, what [...] things were like prior to the legalization of abortion. And limiting people access to abortion doesn't keep people from getting abortions. It just stop from makes it less safe and increases the incidence of complications.
That makes no never mind to the lawmakers and governors of North Dakota and Mississippi and other states who are determinedly persistent in doing everything in their power to make reproductive rights a dead letter. And they don't care if their actions leave dead women in their wake.