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Law & the Courts

American Medical Association Sues to Halt Implementation of North Dakota Abortion Laws

A woman receives an ultrasound (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

The American Medical Association has launched a lawsuit against North Dakota to halt the implementation of two state laws requiring abortion providers to provide additional information about the procedure to women considering it.

One of the laws requires physicians to tell a mother that her abortion “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” at least 24 hours before her abortion appointment as part of obtaining her “informed consent.” The other requires an abortion provider to inform women that a medication abortion may be able to be reversed, although “time is of the essence.”

The AMA, joined by the Center for Reproductive Rights, argues that the laws trample on the First Amendment rights of abortion providers because they “compel physicians and their agents to speak government-mandated messages that entail providing to their patients misleading or even patently false, non-medical information with which they disagree,” making them a “mouthpiece of the state.”

The legally mandated information relays a statement “about fetal personhood that is unmoored from medical science” as well as a statement about medication abortion “wholly unsupported by the best, most reliable scientific evidence,” the AMA said in its suit.

North Dakota also requires physicians to make sure the mother is given information on where prenatal, childbirth, and neonatal care may be available and that the father is liable for helping support her child.

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