BISMARCK, N.D. (CNS) — North Dakota’s Catholic bishops called a decision by a state judge that a 2011 law prohibiting the use of one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions violates the state and U.S. constitutions.

North Dakota Judge Wickham Corwin July 15 said the two-year-old law was “simply wrongheaded” and that “no compelling state interest justifies this infringement.”


But Bishops David D. Kagan of Bismarck and John T. Folda of Fargo said in a statement that with his ruling, Corwin recognized a right to abortion in the state constitution “more expansive than that recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“A lone judge sitting in Fargo has declared that the North Dakota Constitution makes abortion a ‘fundamental’ right subject to practically no limitations,” the bishops said July 16. “In fact, the right ‘found’ by … Corwin is more expansive than that used by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“As a result, the opinion could put all of the state’s laws on abortion in jeopardy, including its parental consent laws, health and safety requirements, and conscience protection,” they said.

The case “is not just about drug-induced abortions,” the bishops said. At stake from this ruling are all of the state’s pro-life and pro-women laws, such as parental notification, health and safety requirements, and conscience protection for health care providers.”

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem plans to appeal Corwin’s ruling to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

An AP story quoted him as saying that the state Supreme Court has never addressed the issue of a so-called “right to abortion.”

“This should be ruled on not by one trial judge but by the North Dakota Supreme Court. That’s only appropriate,” said Stenehjem.