5 things to know today: Police chief, Post Roe, Planned parenthood, Special session, Budget office
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Troopers identify motorcycle crash victim as police chief of North Dakota town
Authorities have identified a motorcyclist killed in a recent Interstate 94 crash as Brandon Sola, the police chief of Carrington, North Dakota.
Sola, 36, of Velva, was also a master sergeant with the North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo.
“Our North Dakota National Guard family mourns the loss of one of our family members,” Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, said in a statement. “We will always remember Brandon’s commitment to the National Guard and to law enforcement.”
The crash happened at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, just outside of West Fargo when Sola was off duty, authorities said.
2. In post-Roe world, many seeking information on medication abortion, study finds
The former president of Fargo-based Swanson Health Products seems to have his head in the clouds when it comes to property acquisition.
States expected to impose restrictions on abortion saw the biggest spike in Google searches seeking information on abortion medications.
The finding, reported in a research letter published on Wednesday, June 29, in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, reflects a growing regional significance, post-Roe v. Wade, of FDA-approved drug cocktails that allow a woman to self-manage the termination of a pregnancy without visiting a doctor's office.
Use of the medications, a two-drug combination regulated as mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex), and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec), now make up over half of all abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion research organization.
About 350,000 Google searches using those terms or "abortion pill" were conducted during the week of May 1 to 8, according to the authors of the new research letter. That first week in May is when the Supreme Court's decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and widely reported.
An hourly analysis conducted by the authors of that letter showed the spike in searches was "immediate," with the greatest concentration correlated to a state's letter grade on a reproductive rights index.
3. Planned Parenthood leader urges Minnesota hospitals to help offset demand for abortion
A top regional Planned Parenthood leader on Thursday, June 30, called on Minnesota hospital systems to start offering abortion services to meet demand as people across the region traveled to the state to terminate a pregnancy.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal constitutional right to an abortion, Planned Parenthood North Central States President and CEO Sarah Stoesz said the organization expected to see a surge in people seeking abortions in Minnesota.
Around the region, states have outlawed medication abortion and abortion procedures, or are considering doing so following the court's ruling last week. Meanwhile, abortion remains protected under a 1995 Minnesota court case in and abortion providers said they planned to continue offering services to residents and those who travel to terminate a pregnancy.
"We are doing what we can to step up and to take care of our providers and all of our staff so that they don't burn out but it's a difficult situation," Stoesz said, citing staffing shortages across the health care industry.
"It should not be just on the backs of Planned Parenthood and the independent abortion clinics in Minnesota to take care of the influx of people that will be needing our care," she continued. "And I am hopeful that we will begin seeing other OB-GYN practices and health systems stepping into the breach."
4. Access to out-of-state abortions could come under scrutiny during special session
For Kim Floren, the past week has been among the most chaotic of her career.
“I think every single person I talked to on the phone was crying to some degree,” Floren told Forum News Service during a Tuesday, June 28, interview. “They're stressed out, and they don't know what comes next.”
Floren is the director of Justice through Empowerment Network , or JEN, one of the only abortion funds in South Dakota. It’s a volunteer-driven operation that handles logistics and costs for people, especially those with lower incomes, looking to travel outside the state to get an abortion.
Leaving the state to receive an abortion is now one of the few options for most expecting parents in South Dakota looking to terminate a pregnancy, as abortions are illegal in the state unless “necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.”
After the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturned the federal abortion protections first established in Roe v. Wade, reaction from abortion rights activists across the country came swiftly in the form of protests and fundraising drives. A viral social media campaign encouraged donations to local abortion funds listed on abortionfunds.org , especially in states with plans to restrict abortions following the repeal of federal protections. One of the funds listed under South Dakota was JEN.
Floren, who founded JEN in October 2020, says the jump in fundraising and attention stemming from the June 24 Supreme Court decision was immediate and drastic. Over the subsequent weekend, the group raised $30,000, a figure that outpaced the organization’s entire budget during their first year of operation.
5. North Dakota budget office leader to retire
North Dakota Office of Management and Budget Director Joe Morrissette will retire from his full-time role at the end of August, the governor's office announced Thursday, June 30.
Four years ago, Morrissette took the reins of the office, which broadly oversees state government's finances and operations. He has also served as deputy tax commissioner and as a fiscal analyst for OMB and Legislative Council during a nearly 30-year career in state government.
Morrissette will step down from his leading role on Aug. 31, but he will continue to serve as director on a part-time basis through next year's legislative session, the governor's office said in a news release.
Gov. Doug Burgum heaped praise on Morrissette, one of his longest-serving cabinet members.