By Kathleen Gilbert

FARGO, North Dakota, August 13, 2009 ( - A district judge in North Dakota on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) to block enforcement of a new law strengthening informed consent law for women seeking abortions. 

East Central District Judge Douglas Herman clarified that the abortion clinic was not required to make mothers hear the sound of their child's heartbeat, but only to offer the service, contrary to CRR's stated concern.

The Center for Reproductive Rights announced in late July that it would launch a lawsuit on behalf of the states sole abortion mill, Red River Women's Clinic, against what it called a "vague and confusing abortion restriction which would seriously limit women's ability to obtain abortion in the state."  The group complained that the bill might present the clinic with an undue burden in requiring it to buy the $28,000 device needed for the procedure.

Judge Herman concluded, however, that the law did not warrant such an interpretation.  "It can be interpreted in a straightforward manner requiring the clinic simply to provide information as to auscultation services - in addition to the active ultrasound devices the clinic itself offers - if available within the community," Herman wrote in his order.

The law passed the North Dakota legislature by an overwhelming margin in April, and was scheduled to become active August 1.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem told the Jamestown Sun that his office's interpretation aligned with Judge Herman's to begin with.

The abortion clinic "can say, 'We don't do that service here, but you have a right, if you wish, to have that service," said Stenehjem.

See related coverage:

North Dakota Personhood Bill Defeated in Senate, Informed Consent and Ultrasound Bills Pass