Reproductive Rights

Federal Court Strikes Down Nation’s Strictest Abortion Ban

A federal court upheld this week that North Dakota’s strict abortion ban law is unconstitutional, blocking it permanently.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The North Dakota law is one of the strictest in the nation. HB 1456 bans abortion past the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, and would have banned abortion before many women even know that they are pregnant.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Jack Dalrymple in 2013, after which pro-choice groups including the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic – the last remaining abortion provider in North Dakota. A federal district court blocked the law in 2014, noting that “the United States Supreme Court has spoken and has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.”

“Today’s decision reaffirms that the U.S. Constitution protects women from the legislative attacks of politicians who would deny them their right to safely and legally end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, ND, said that the clinic is very happy with the decision, but is ready to fight the measure should the state make an appeal to the Supreme Court. “We certainly hoped from the beginning when the bill was first proposed in the Legislature that the final outcome would be that the court would say that the state of North Dakota went too far in trying to ban abortions for the women that we served,” Kromenaker said.

Anti-choice North Dakota lawmakers are now demanding that state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem appeal to the Supreme Court. The justices, however, can decline to hear the case, as they did with the blocking of an Arizona state 20-week abortion ban last year.

Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 7/22/15; Feminist Newswire 3/26/13; 4/17/15; 1/8/15; North Dakota District Court Order 4/16/14; Washington Post 7/22/15

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