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AMA, Fargo Women's Clinic Sue ND Over New Abortion Law

The AMA says a new North Dakota law violates doctors' freedom of speech. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
The AMA says a new North Dakota law violates doctors' freedom of speech. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
July 5, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. – The American Medical Association and North Dakota's only clinic providing abortions are suing the state over two laws related to the procedure.

The AMA has joined Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo on its challenge to a bill passed this legislative session that requires doctors to tell patients that medication-induced abortions are reversible, a claim the AMA says has no basis in science.

The law is set to go into effect Aug. 1.

Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the AMA, says this lawsuit defends physicians' freedom of speech and, if it goes forward, could undermine the trust between doctors and patients.

"The government should absolutely not compel speech in the first place, but in the second place, speech that is false or misleading and not based on the science," she states.

Harris stresses that entering into this lawsuit does not represent a change for the AMA, noting that the group has a long standing policy of opposing government interference in the practice of medicine, such as mandating speech.

The lawsuit also challenges an existing North Dakota law requiring physicians to tell patients that abortions terminate "the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women's Clinic, says the misleading nature of this new measure and the existing law violate doctors' medical ethics.

"Doctors take a vow,” she points out. “First, do no harm, and when you mislead or lie to your patients, you can be doing them harm.

“You can harm your relationship with them. You can harm them with bad information. And so, we just really believe that the state should not be mandating what physicians and the rest of the health care team has to say to patients."

North Dakota and seven other states have passed laws requiring doctors to tell patients about so-called medication-abortion reversal. Five of the states passed their laws this year.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND