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High court considering abortion rights case

An assistant attorney general says Fargo District Judge Wick Corwin was wrong to rule that the right to an abortion is protected in North Dakota’s Constitution.

Solicitor General Doug Bahr made that argument to the North Dakota Supreme Court – in the state’s appeal of Corwin’s ruling that struck down a 2011 abortion law. The opponents of that law say it bans drug-induced abortions.

Corwin said the state Constitution’s guarantee of “liberty and the pursuit of safety and happiness” protect the woman’s right to an abortion. But Bahr told the Supreme Court that history needs to be considered.

"They have never said there's any evidence that the drafters intended 'liberty,' as they understood it, to include a right to abortion," Bahr told the Court. "They did not. The law prohibited it for years before and for decades after."

Attorney Autumn Katz represents the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo. She told the Court that since the US Supreme Court has ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion, North Dakota’s law must be interpreted in that light.

"Given this Court's repeated affirmation that the Constitution does protect civil liberties to the same or to a greater extent than the federal Constitution, as a matter of state Constitutional law, a woman's personal freedom and autonomy require both the right to make parenting decisions and the right to control whether or when to have children," argued Katz.

The High Court is now reviewing that case, and will rule later.

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