North Dakota: Owner of Only Abortion Clinic Won't Debate Right to Life

A wave of anti-abortion legislation that has made North Dakota the most Pro-life state in the nation has led Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Valley Women's Clinic in Fargo, to dig in her heels. The sole abortion provider in the state, Kromenaker is the “latest target” of pro-life legislation and “has found herself the focal point of the national debate this week.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) of North Dakota signed into law a measure that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the premise that a 20-week fetus can experience pain in utero. Dalrymple has also signed legislation that bans abortions as early as six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and those based on genetic defects, such as Down’s Syndrome, or genetic selection. The governor also signed into law a measure that requires doctors who perform abortions to be physicians with hospital-admitting privileges.

With more states passing legislation that restricts abortions, the Daily Beast claims that Kromenaker is the “latest target” of pro-life legislation and “has found herself the focal point of the national debate this week.” The Beast reports that, despite facing closure of her abortion clinic, Kromenaker is “surprisingly upbeat,” and is convinced that the “heartbeat bill” is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Kromenaker, whose clinic performs each Wednesday an average of 25 abortions, up until an unborn child is 16 weeks, states that she has been reassured by the National Center for Reproductive Rights that they will provide funds for her court case.

During a local television interview, Kromenaker said she allowed reporters and photographers, including those from Time Magazine and the Rachel Maddow show, to see her clinic so that she could take away the “secrecy” and the “stigma” of abortion. According to the interviewer, Kromenaker also refused a request to debate a pro-life person on his show, stating that she does not debate that issue.

“If you’re going to take away the secrecy, take away the stigma, why not have that discussion?” the interviewer asked. Kromenaker responded, “I believe that abortion is a basic civil and human right, and basic civil and human rights are not up for debate.”

Kromenaker went on to say that abortion is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. “It’s safer than getting a penicillin shot,” she claimed.

“People have ideas about what a clinic looks like…we hear crazy things like ‘It must be dirty’ and blood all over,” said Kromenaker. She added that she wants people to see how her abortion clinic is a regular medical facility with “nice people” who work there and who “enjoy their jobs.”

The interviewer then asked Kromenaker whether the unborn child also has a “civil right” to live.

“I don’t think it’s my place to debate that,” Kromenaker replied. “I provide a medical service at my clinic that women need. It is a legal service, and that’s what we do at Red River Women’s Clinic.”

“But wouldn’t that baby have a ‘civil right’ as a human?” the interviewer asked. Once again, Kromenaker declined to respond to the question.

Comparing the issue of abortion to Second Amendment rights to bear arms, the interviewer asked Kromenaker whether there should be more gun laws or if she was “fine with the way the Second Amendment is written.”

“I’m not very knowledgeable about that,” Kromenaker answered. Pressed on whether the issue of gun control is “civil rights debatable,” she said, “I don’t know.”

“Why is abortion a good thing?” the interviewer asked. “Safe, legal abortion saves women’s lives,” Kromenaker responded. She added that, prior to Roe v. Wade, “Women died from illegal abortion…illegal abortion kills women. When abortion is illegal, women will go to whatever means necessary to end a pregnancy that they don’t want to continue.”

The interviewer then showed Kromenaker a graphic which illustrated that abortion is the top cause of death in America, with 39% of all deaths attributed to abortion. Kromenaker said, "That depends on what you are looking at."

“But why is it okay to save the woman’s life and not the child’s?” the interviewer asked.

“I just don’t debate,” Kromenaker insisted. “I don’t debate whose life is more important.”

Kromenaker’s remarks come as the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell continues in Philadelphia. Gosnell is charged with the murder of a pregnant woman and seven babies who were born alive during abortion procedures. A grand jury report and testimony at the trial described scenes of Gosnell’s clinic, now referred to as the “house of horrors,” which included beheaded babies, parts of fetuses in jars and clogged drains, and overmedication of women patients.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) charged that Gosnell’s clinic was permitted to continue its practices due to “bureaucratic incompetence” in his state. Rendell also indicates that, when he was a district attorney prior to serving as governor, he prosecuted another doctor “for doing exactly what Gosnell did.”


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