Fargo, ND – A suit challenging a 2013 law that requires abortionists to maintain local hospital privileges brought by the last remaining abortion clinic in North Dakota was taken off the docket last week amid news of troubling secret negotiations between attorneys for the abortion clinic and the State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
The Red River Women’s Clinic had sued the state, arguing that it was impossible for its abortionists, all of which reside out-of-state, to gain hospital privileges in Fargo. Later it was learned that all of the clinics abortionists recently received privileges at Sanford Health.
“The secret negotiations and the suspicious way all of the clinic’s out-of-state abortionists suddenly obtained hospital privileges that they claimed they were previously unable to obtain raises suspicions that there are backroom dealings that may be undermining the intent of the law in North Dakota,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, who has advocated for requirements that abortionists maintain hospital privileges with 30 miles of their abortion clinics.
Most hospitals are reluctant to grant privileges to abortionists who fly in from other states to do abortions, then immediately fly out because of liability issues raised by this practice that denies women continuity of care in the event of abortion complications.
Last year, Judge Wickham Corwin ordered that the hospital privilege challenge be combined with another suit challenging a 2011 law that would essentially ban medication abortions done with RU-486 and the dangerous and unpredictable Cytotec, which causes often violent uterine contractions. Medication abortions account for 20% of Red River Women’s Center’s abortion business.
“Taking the trial off the docket has also delayed the defense of the abortion pill regulations, which has waited three years for trial. It is the duty of the Attorney General to defend North Dakota law, but instead he is helping the abortion business to continue to operate without having to comply with the law,” said Newman.
Judge Corwin is known to routinely provide judicial bypasses for minors to obtain abortions without parental notification. These bypasses provided financial benefit to the abortion clinic. In addition, Corwin has often provided rulings that favored the abortion clinic.
“Corwin was certainly quick to pull the abortion-related suits from the docket, which primarily favored the abortion clinic,” said Newman. “It is my opinion that Corwin should have recused himself from all suits involving abortion and the Red River Women’s Center.”
Ethics issues have plagued Corwin casting further doubt about whether Corwin is capable is issuing an unbiased ruling on abortion cases.
In 2012, as the result of a sexual harassment complaint filed by his court reporter, Corwin was re-assigned to a team that did not include her. According to news reports based on an 83-page investigation report, Corwin had pursued a romantic relationship with the woman then created a hostile workplace environment for her when she repeatedly rebuffed him.
Last year, a disciplinary panel recommend that Corwin be suspended for 60 days without pay.
“Whether there has been improper influence from the Judge’s office, the Attorney General’s office, or somewhere else, in persuading Sanford Health to suddenly extend hospital privileges to fly-in abortionists, we call on Attorney General Stenehjem to aggressively defend North Dakota’s abortion laws and protect women from dangerous abortion practices that fail to meet the standard of care. We cannot allow women to be further exploited by the weakening of those laws during secret backroom dealings,” said Newman.