North Dakota judge gets more time to decide on abortion case

Judge address lawyer in courtroom
South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick, left, asks a question to Matthew Sagsveen, representing the North Dakota Attorney General's office, during an August hearing on the state's trigger law banning nearly all abortions. Romanick was granted more time on Friday to rule in the case. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)
Mike McCleary | The Bismarck Tribune via AP

The North Dakota Supreme Court has extended to Oct. 31 the deadline for a lower court judge to reconsider his decision to prevent the state’s abortion ban from taking effect, after the judge cited workload and health factors.

The state Supreme Court earlier this week ordered Judge Bruce Romanick to weigh an abortion clinic’s chances of winning a lawsuit in reconsidering whether his decision to temporarily halt enforcement of the ban was correct. He had originally been told to report back on Monday.

Romanick said the deadline was onerous “given the many duties of any judicial officer throughout the state” and to compound matters, he was diagnosed Thursday with COVID-19 and forced to quarantine.

“While remote work is possible it is not the best avenue for providing a comprehensive analysis as requested by the Supreme Court on such a complicated issue,” the judge said in a document obtained by The Associated Press.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to give Romanick more time to decide the fate of the lawsuit filed by the state’s only abortion clinic, which argues that the state’s constitution grants the right to abortion.

The Red River Women's Clinic, with help from abortion advocacy groups, has pressed forward with the suit even though the facility already moved a few miles away to Moorhead, Minn.

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