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North Dakota Ordered to Pay $245,000 in Attorney Fees to Abortion Rights Group

"We think that it’s a fair settlement."

North Dakota is being forced to pay $245,000 in attorney fees after the state lost its challenge last week to an abortion law that was passed by the Legislature in 2013.

According to payment settlement, the $245,000 will be awarded to the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that provided legal representation to North Dakota's sole abortion services provider: the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, according to the Bismarck Tribune. A judge must still approve the state's settlement agreement.

"We think that it’s a fair settlement," said Janet Crepps, Senior Counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, according to the Tribune.

The center challenged the 2013 law dubbed the "heartbeat bill" because it banned abortions that occurred after a fetal heartbeat could be detected roughly six weeks into a pregnancy, the Tribune noted. After a federal judge blocked the bill and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review North Dakota's case, the bill remains blocked.

Although North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, called the law "a legitimate attempt by a state Legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade," abortion proponents called the bill an attempt to shut down the clinic entirely, according to the Associated Press.

"Ultimately, we’re glad for the result that women in North Dakota had their constitutional right and health protected," Crepps said, adding, "but it does seem like this was the result that was expected from the beginning."

Crepps added that the state should have recognized that it was "embarking on an expensive lawsuit, defending a clearly unconstitutional law" that "has cost the state a good bit of money," according to the AP.

 

The state attorney general’s office stated that it had spent more than $320,000 on abortion-related litigation since February 2012, according to the Tribune.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

Front-page image via Shutterstock

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