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N.D. clinic may get OK for abortions

BISMARCK, N.D. — A Dakotas-based health care system has granted hospital-admitting privileges to doctors at North Dakota’s sole abortion provider, which would bring the Fargo clinic into compliance with a new state law.

In a statement Thursday, Sanford Health said physicians at the Red River Women’s Clinic have been credentialed at its hospital in Fargo.

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The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is helping the Red River Women’s Clinic, filed a lawsuit in state court last year challenging the law that requires doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion facility.

The case was slated for trial this week but was taken off the docket as a result of settlement talks, which the New York-based group announced this week without elaborating.

A state judge in July granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the law from taking effect. A judge had earlier ordered that the lawsuit on hospital-admitting privileges be combined with a 2011 suit on a law that outlaws one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions. A North Dakota Supreme Court ruling on that case is pending.

East Central Judge Wickham Corwin has said the hospital privileges law raises the same ‘‘legal and factual matters’’ as the 2011 legislation.

Autumn Katz, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that her group ‘‘cannot discuss the details of any potential settlement before it is finalized.’’

Clinic chief Tammi Kromenaker and a spokeswoman for the North Dakota attorney general’s office, which defends state laws against challenges, also declined comment.

Opponents had said the 2013 law would effectively make abortions illegal in North Dakota. They feared it would be impossible for doctors performing abortions to meet the number of hospital visits required to gain admitting privileges because the procedure is safe and women rarely need hospitalization.

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