North Dakota’s law barring abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected was blocked by a federal judge who called the measure “a blatant violation” of U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck, North Dakota, granted an order today temporarily blocking the law. He said the lawsuit to overturn the statute by the state’s only abortion provider was likely to succeed because the Supreme Court has ruled no state may ban abortions that take place before the fetus could survive outside the mother’s body.
The statute, scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, makes it a crime for doctors to terminate a pregnancy after six weeks of gestation unless there’s a medical emergency. The suit was brought by MKB Management Corp., which runs a womens’ clinic.
“The state of North Dakota has presented no evidence to justify the passage of this troubling law,” Hovland said in his ruling. “The state has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women.”
Hovland gave attorneys in the case 30 days to let him know whether to schedule a trial on the merits of suit.
North Dakota officials argued that a woman’s right to an abortion isn’t absolute and the state has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn.
Liz Brocker, a spokeswoman for North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, had no immediate comment on the ruling.
The case is MKB Management v. Burdick, 13-cv-71, U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota (Bismarck).
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