The owner of a North Dakota abortion clinic that faces closure this month was directing traffic and deliveries Friday to its planned new location a few miles away in Minnesota.
The Red River Women’s Clinic, which has operated on a busy downtown Fargo street since 1998, will close this location Aug. 26 unless a judge blocks a triggering North Dakota law banning abortion. In the meantime, a the move is already underway just over 2 miles (3 kilometers) from a three-story brick office building in the middle of a commercial area.
Clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker declined to comment on specifics of the Moorhead facility, promising a statement later in what she said would be a busy day of scheduled deliveries. As she spoke, a moving truck pulled up on the street and a moving truck drove through a parking lot.
Some proponents of abortion rights in North Dakota still hope Kromenaker’s clinic can prevail in a lawsuit alleging that abortion is protected by that state’s constitution. No hearing is yet scheduled.
Although Kromenaker has previously said she would only move if the litigation fails, the statement she made later Friday suggested she was fully committed to the relocation.
“The Red River Women’s Clinic has found our new home,” she said. “We couldn’t be more proud to be able to continue to provide abortion care to our community and region. It was not an easy undertaking.
She added, “As the lights go out on legal abortion in North Dakota, we want to assure everyone that the Red River Women’s Clinic is here to stay. Abortion care will continue to be available in our area.”
The move of the clinic was boosted by $1 million in GoFundMe donations.
Kromenaker said she searched for a new location to rent or buy for more than a year, and eventually had to buy a larger-than-needed office building. She said it would be up to the other tenants to stay. She said renting space to compatible tenants would give the clinic “long-term financial stability”.
The building appeared mostly empty on Friday.
Kromenaker declined to say when the new clinic would be ready, but said patients would see no disruption to services.
Republican Minnesota State Rep. Tim Miller, director of an anti-abortion coalition that opposes the new clinic, told The Associated Press he plans to challenge the city over its zoning rules and planning.
“I just find it hard to believe that an office building could suddenly become a clinic where they perform abortions,” Miller said. “That seems too simplistic to me.”
Destini Spaeth, the volunteer leader of North Dakota Women In Need, which helps patients with travel costs, said the Moorhead facility will be the clinic the community has built.
“At the end of the day, I think people needed a place to put their action and their rage into something good,” Spaeth said. “And I know we all felt so helpless. And it felt like something tangible that we could see and make possible.