Democrats want clarity on North Dakota abortion law trigger

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Two North Dakota Democratic lawmakers on Monday called for an attorney general’s opinion on the state’s abortion restrictions, saying clarity in needed to ensure care is not denied in or delayed in emergency situations.

Reps. Zac Ista, of Grand Forks, and Karla Rose Hanson, of Fargo, said discrepancies in state law could result in victims of rape having to get permission from a spouse to obtain an abortion, or in doctors not treating ectopic pregnancies, which occur when an embryo grows outside the womb and often are life-threatening to the women involved.

The request to Attorney General Drew Wrigley comes after a North Dakota judge last week put on hold the state’s trigger law banning abortion while a lawsuit moves forward that argues it violates the state constitution, ruling that the attorney general had prematurely calculated the date when the ban should take effect.

Wrigley did not immediately return messages Monday seeking comment on whether he would issue an opinion.

Hanson said a formal attorney general’s opinion may “resolve the conflicts and inconsistencies in abortion-related state laws that no doubt will create confusion for medical and legal professionals.” Hanson said. “The last thing we want is for a health care provider to hesitate in a medical crisis because they face potential legal jeopardy.”

North Dakota’s law would make abortion illegal in the state except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

But Ista, an attorney, believes all abortions would be illegal under the state’s trigger ban and “puts the high burden on the doctor to prove an affirmative defense.”