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American Medical Association v. Stenehjem

The American Medical Association (AMA), the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and the Dickson Law Office in Bismarck, ND, filed a lawsuit on behalf of abortion providers challenging two state laws that would force physicians to provide false information to their patients.

HB 1336 would require physicians to tell patients that a medication abortion may be “reversed”—an unproven claim that isn’t supported by science. Plaintiffs refer to this law as the “Compelled Reversal Mandate.”

An existing state law forces physicians to tell patients that abortion terminates “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Plaintiffs refer to this law as the “Compelled Personhood Mandate.”

Plaintiffs argue that the Compelled Personhood Mandate violates their right to freedom of speech by compelling physicians to “speak a controversial and ideological message with which [they] disagree and that is unmoored from medical science.”

Plaintiffs allege that the Compelled Reversal Mandate violates their First Amendment rights by compelling physicians to speak:

[…]a content-based, viewpoint-based, and/or controversial government mandated message that they would not otherwise recite and refer their patients to government-created materials and government-sanctioned referrals about an experimental medical treatment that has not been proven safe and effective or approved by the FDA, that violates accepted ethical standards and best practices in medical care, that undermines Physicians’ ability to provide their patients with the highest standard of medical care, and that contradicts Physicians’ viewpoints.

Plaintiffs further allege that the Compelled Reversal Mandate fails to provide clarity regarding conflicting state medication abortion laws, thus violating the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


The state of North Dakota agreed to not enforce either law while the case proceeds.

Update #1

9/10/19 – U.S. District Court Judge Daniel L. Hovland granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking the abortion “reversal” provision. The court has yet to rule on the “personhood” provision.

Key Documents

Complaint – 6/25/19

Order Granting Preliminary Injunction – 9/10/19