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ND group misses abortion petition deadline

BISMARCK, N.D. -- A backer of the failed petition drive seeking to refer three anti-abortion laws to the 2014 ballot claims Secretary of State Al Jaeger violated the state constitution by taking too long to approve the petitions for circulation.

But the head of the sponsoring committee that requested the petitions blamed the group's failure largely on opposition from the state's only abortion clinic, Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo.

The sponsoring committee fell short of reaching 13,452 signatures for each petition by its Monday deadline, which, as prescribed by law, was 90 days after the laws were filed with the secretary of state. Roland Reimers, secretary of North Dakota Referral Supporters, said Jaeger denied the committee's right to begin circulating petitions by "nitpicking" for such things as grammar and margin spacing. In response, Jaeger said the petition rules are spelled out in state law.