North Dakota had passed the country’s strictest abortion law, prohibiting abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected. However, a federal judge stepped in and blocked the state from enforcing the law that could essentially ban abortion as early as six weeks after conception.
The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo – North Dakota’s only abortion clinic – challenged the state law, passed in 2013. In his ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland agreed with the challenge and prohibited the state legislature from enforcing the ban.
Why the Federal Judge Blocked the State Law
Judge Hovland reasoned that the state failed to present any reliable medical evidence to support such an early ban on abortions. Hovland cited the constitutional right of women to choose an abortion prior to the fetus becoming viable. This right has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court for more than 40 years.
To give some context to the ban on enforcement of the “heartbeat” abortion law, the U.S. Supreme Court has just recently declined to hear the appeal of an even less severe abortion law in Arizona, making it unlikely that the highest court would consider an appeal of the North Dakota ruling.
Fallout of the Ban of the ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Law
The fact that the state law was ruled unenforceable will have a big impact on many women in North Dakota. Women may continue to receive abortions in the state; had the law been passed, women seeking an abortion would have had to travel out of state or even risk dangerous unlicensed and illegal abortions.
If you have any questions about appealing a federal decision, you will want to contact an appeals attorney. The federal appeals process is very complicated and can be time-consuming. An experienced attorney can help walk you through the steps of the appeals process.