A Reason to Celebrate and the Need to Keep Fighting

By Karlee Tiller | August 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


When a North Dakota state judge granted a preliminary injunction against a bill that would shut down the last clinic in the state, StopPatriarchy.org was outside of the courthouse and inside the court hearing. Freedom Riders greeted the clinic owner, Tammi Kromenaker, with an “Abortion Providers Are Heroes” banner and applause. They carried out chants such as “Without this Basic Right, Women Can’t be Free: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!” and “Not the Church, Not the State: Women must decide our fate!” Some of them spoke about why this Ride has to happen and why we came to Fargo.

The bill in question would require physicians who perform abortions at Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo to obtain admitting privileges and clearance to perform abortions at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. According to the judge, none of these hospitals would have any interest in granting admitting privileges aside from all this on the basis that such a decision would subject them to “the protests.” From the clinic there are three such hospitals:

  • The first hospital is associated with the Catholic Church, which prohibits any sort of affiliation with abortion care.
  • The second hospital is a veteran’s hospital, prohibited by federal law to associate with any type of abortion services.
  • The last hospital requires that physicians seeking admitting privileges have admitted at least five patients in the last year.

The day of the hearing marked the 15th anniversary of the opening of Red River Women’s Clinic. In the past 15 years, only one patient has ever been admitted to a hospital for complications related to the abortion obtained at Red River. The next 180 days are reserved for discovery which the state plans to use (with the approval of the judge) to investigate the physicians providing abortions in this state. In addition to living under the constant threat of anti-abortion violence, these rare and heroic doctors are now subject to interrogation, investigation, and closure at the hands of the state.

To ignore what is at stake for the women in North Dakota as they face the closure of their state’s lone clinic is wrong. We cannot leave the women of any state behind. What unfolds in North Dakota will set both a legal and societal precedent for every state. For now, the Red River Women’s Clinic stays open and that really matters. This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is needed because it is not enough to just provide services on an ever-shrinking basis, although this is very important. We all have an obligation to women everywhere to change the terms around this entire debate, which is what this Freedom Ride aims to accomplish. As we continue our struggle in Fargo, and make our way through Wichita down to Jackson, I urge you to figure out how to contribute: be a part of this Ride, donate, caravan to join us, and be a virtual Freedom Rider by spreading this on social media.

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