- (Photo: Reuters/Dan Koeck)
The Red River Women's clinic, the only abortion clinic in North Dakota, reported the fewest number of abortion procedures per year in more than a decade. Although abortion advocates blame North Dakota's strict anti-abortion laws as the reason for the decline, pro-life advocates have heralded the state's commitment to saving the lives of the unborn.
The state's lone abortion clinic near downtown Fargo, N.D., told the Associated Press in a recent interview that the number of abortions performed at its facility in 2013 have dropped by 15 percent since last year, with 1,125 abortions performed in 2013 and 1,330 abortions performed in 2012.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women's Clinic, told AP that she heard from an abortion doctor in a neighboring state that many women actually believe abortion has been outlawed in North Dakota, and are therefore forced to travel to neighboring states like South Dakota and Minnesota for the procedure.
"We're definitely hearing from women that they thought we were closed and that abortion is illegal," Kromenaker said. "Abortion is still legal in the state of North Dakota and we're still here." Kromenaker added that she doesn't think "women's circumstances and the reason they come to us have changed," but rather the state's strict legislation has caused many women to assume the state's lone abortion clinic has closed.
North Dakota currently outlaws abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and this year lawmakers also passed a bill that would outlaw abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed multiple sweeping abortion regulations into law, including a ban on abortions based on genetic defects, such as Down syndrome, and abortions based on sex-selection. A judge later blocked the six-week abortion ban from taking effect as a lawsuit against the law proceeds through court, and also ruled to dismiss the legal challenge to the state's ban on abortion based on sex or genetic defects.
Many pro-life activists have heralded Gov. Jack Dalrymple and North Dakota's lawmakers for their commitment to the pro-life agenda. State Solicitor General Doug Bahr recently argued that "there is no constitutional right to an abortion [in North Dakota]." Bahr was arguing on behalf of the state in legal arguments regarding a 2011 law that bans one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions. The law was ruled unconstitutional by a district court judge earlier this year and is now before the state Supreme Court.
In addition to North Dakota, Arkansas has also seen a massive decline in abortion rates in recent years. Records released in October by the Department of Health's office of Vital Records/Statistics indicate that abortion in the state has dropped by six percent from 2011 to 2012. Pro-life activists in Arkansas have communicated their intent to fight for the pro-life culture in the state.
"We're going to continue to fight until Arkansas stays a solid state for life," Kandi Cox, a pro-life activist and the leader of Abba Adoption, an organization that offers support for women who choose adoption over abortion, said earlier this year.