Gearing up for legal battles to come, North Dakota’s attorney general is asking lawmakers to put an extra $400,000 into his budget to fight expected court challenges following the passage of the state’s tough new anti-abortion legislation, which is among the most restrictive state laws in the country.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the figure is an estimate of what he think will be needed to individually defend each of the anti-abortion measures, though the exact cost will depend on how the legal challenges are filed. A state Senate spending panel Wednesday included the funds in a budget measure passed by the committee Wednesday
Mr. Stenehjem told the Grand Forks Herald that a legal challenge may be put on hold if opponents of the abortion laws succeed in forcing a statewide vote on the measures.
The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo is the only clinic in the state where women can legally get an abortion, would be the party filing the lawsuit with the Center for Reproductive Rights acting as their legal counsel.
The CRR plans on being involved in lawsuits against Arkansas’s new anti-abortion measures currently in their House. Mr. Stenehjem consulted with the attorneys general of Arkansas and Idaho, a state that has also recently faced legal challenges due to abortion legislation.
“I reached out to them to help get a handle on what the fees might be,” Mr. Stenehjem told North Dakota newspaper. “It helped me form the basis of my own estimation.”
North Dakota is already involved in a two-year legal battle over an anti-abortion bill passed in 2011.
“I thought the lawsuit would proceed a lot more quickly. Two years since it was enacted and we still have yet to have a trial at district court,” said Mr. Stenehjem. “It underlines that litigation can be a lengthy, especially complicated and controversial measures like this.”