Federal Judge Overturns N.D.'s Historic Six-week Abortion Ban

By:  Dave Bohon
Federal Judge Overturns N.D.'s Historic Six-week Abortion Ban

A federal judge has ruled that North Dakota's ban on most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy is an unconstitutional obstacle to a woman's right to kill her unborn baby.

The legislation, which was signed into law last year by Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple, also banned sex-selective abortions, as well as abortions on pre-born babies suffering from genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome.

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland, who last August enforced a temporary injunction against the pro-life law, wrote in his latest decision that the state's “strict ban on abortions at the time when a 'heartbeat' has been detected — essentially banning all abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy — cannot withstand a constitutional challenge. A woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than 40 years. The United States Supreme Court has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this lawsuit. This court is not free to impose its own view of the law.”

When he signed the bill in March 2013, Dalrymple predicted that legal issues might arise, but implemented the law on moral and constitutional principle. “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” he said upon affixing his signature.

In June of last year Fargo, North Dakota's Red River Women's Clinic, the state's sole abortion provider, filed suit to have the new law blocked. Hovland later granted the clinic's request to drop the part of the suit challenging the gender and genetic defects abortion ban, after clinic officials conceded that they don't perform such abortions anyway.

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