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Planned Parenthood to perform abortions in Moorhead if Fargo clinic closes

Protests are a regular occurrence outside the Fargo abortion clinic. Longtime demonstrators have told The Forum that if the clinic moves to Moorhead, they will continue their protests there.

Protesters kneel outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota's only abortion provider, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Protesters kneel outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota's only abortion provider, on May 4, 2022.
C.S. Hagen/The Forum
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FARGO — With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision approaching, Planned Parenthood has announced it will start offering abortions at its Moorhead clinic if the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo cannot quickly relocate across the Red River.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Fargo clinic, has spoken numerous times to Planned Parenthood North Central States and said she thinks the group's announcement on Monday, May 25, which was reported by The Associated Press, was meant to be one of support.

“But I think it landed not quite the way it was expected to,” Kromenaker told The Forum.

Emily Bisek, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said their clinic will follow the Red River Women’s Clinc’s lead.

“If they are able to and can choose to relocate, then we support them in that for sure. It’s a really sticky situation for patients to know where to go,” Bisek said.

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“We’ve coexisted in Fargo-Moorhead for decades. As soon as the Supreme Court decides this case we’ll think about moving across the river to Moorhead. We don’t want to have to leave. We’ve faced lots of challenges, whether it’s the Legislature or protesters, but it’s time to tell people we have space and we’re ready to move forward with no interruption in services,” Kromenaker said. “Red River Women’s Clinic is here to stay."

A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court published May 2 by Politico suggests the justices might overturn Roe in the coming months, which would allow states to prohibit the procedure.

The North Dakota Legislature passed a "trigger" law in 2007 that would ban abortion within 30 days if the Supreme Court ever changed direction on the controversial procedure.

The law would make it a Class C felony for anyone to perform an abortion, unless a pregnant female performs an abortion on herself. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. There would be exceptions to the abortion ban if the mother's life is in danger and in cases of rape or incest.

The Red River Women’s Clinic is North Dakota’s only abortion provider and plans to continue uninterrupted no matter the Supreme Court’s decision, Kromenaker said.

The Red River Women’s Clinic, at 512 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo, has no affiliation with Planned Parenthood, which does not currently offer abortion services at its clinic at 803 Belsly Boulevard in Moorhead.

Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson said she doesn’t have definitive answers on what will happen in her city if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“The City of Moorhead understands that the possible appeal of Roe v. Wade is in the news and some people would like definitive answers as to the future of the Red River Valley Women’s Clinic,” Carlson said in a statement.

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Unlike North Dakota, Minnesota does not have a “trigger law” in place that would ban abortion upon a repeal of Roe, Carlson said.

“And while I cannot speak to the thoughts of Moorhead residents as a whole, overall Moorhead is a welcoming community that embraces and respects diversity of thought. We know that we all do not and will not think alike on every issue, but for the most part our citizens strive to exist as one community,” Carlson said.

Protests are a regular occurrence outside the Fargo abortion clinic. Longtime demonstrators have told The Forum that if the clinic moves to Moorhead, they will continue their protests there.

Many states have a “variety of trap laws that put unnecessary restrictions on abortion procedures,” Bisek said, adding that at the moment it seems clear that Planned Parenthood Moorhead Clinic can add abortion to their services.

“The real story here is that North Dakota is about to make abortion illegal, and the landscape of women’s health care is shifting so rapidly. For us and for many other providers, we're just trying to figure out how we can be there for patients,” she said.

abortion clinic.jpg
Volunteer escorts use umbrellas to shield patients during a demonstration outside of the Red River Women's Clinic in downtown Fargo on Sept. 23, 2020.
Robin Huebner / The Forum

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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