Weather Forecast


MSNBC TV show host Maddow's crew visits Fargo abortion clinic

Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host

FARGO - Tammi Kromenaker is a hero to some people and a villain to others. Now, the longtime director of North Dakota's only abortion clinic has connected with a hero of her own: MSNBC TV show host Rachel Maddow.

"It's a real honor, because of her commitment to the issue," said Kromenaker of her interview for Maddow's show on the cable network, which was shot Sunday at the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. "Maddow and the show have been very supportive of reproductive rights. So you want to do the best job possible."

Kromenaker said the show's crew went on from Fargo to Sioux Falls as part of a story about the handful of states which have just one abortion provider. The others, besides the Dakotas, are Arkansas, Mississippi and Wyoming.

The Fargo clinic was also featured, for largely the same reason, in a Time magazine cover story.

"It does make you a target," being the state's only abortion clinic, Kromenaker said, acknowledging its unique status makes her an obvious focus of activism for people who are opposed to abortions.

The clinic in downtown Fargo has a consistent array of protestors from week to week. Over the years, it's also faced several lawsuits from individuals and groups that have challenged the clinic's ongoing right to operate, including a case several years ago in which a woman alleged false advertising in the clinic's claims that there is no link between breast cancer and abortions. But then there's the flip side.

"We get help from reproductive rights groups that other clinics wouldn't in places where there are multiple abortion providers, like the case that's going on now," she said - referring to a pending case in which the clinic is suing the state of North Dakota over a law that would prohibit off-label prescriptions of drugs by doctors.

That law would render it impossible for the clinic's doctors to prescribe the so-called "abortion pill," a drug initially designed to treat stomach ulcers. The clinic is getting help in court from the national pro-abortion rights group, the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Kromenaker says she's looking forward to seeing the story on Maddow's show, which is set to air either Thursday or Friday, in time for the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that set in place abortion rights in the U.S. She says if you want to take a look inside the clinic, it's all there, in the video shot for the story.

"It's part of my responsibility to show people, to show photographers and journalists what it is," she says. "It takes away the air of secrecy, to help take away the stigma of abortion."