North Dakota Bill Banning Most Abortions Blocked by Federal Judge

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 22, 2013   |   2:43PM   |   Bismarck, ND

Given Roe v. Wade and a Supreme Court with at least five votes that support keeping abortion in place, any bill that bans abortions will be declared unconstitutional in court until the Supreme Court is changed and Roe is reversed.

That was the prediction with the North Dakota law that bans abortions at 6 weeks of pregnancy and that’s what happened when a federal judge blocked it from taking effect.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the lone abortion business in the state, contacted the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion legal group, to put together a lawsuit against the measure. Now, a judge has issued the first ruling against the ban.

Judge Daniel Hovland said the state’s anti-abortion law — the most restrictive in the country — is “clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority.”

From a report on the decision:

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of North Dakota’s new abortion law — the nation’s most restrictive.

The law, which was set to take effect next week, would ban abortions beginning at six weeks, when the fetal heartbeat can be detected.

However, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland released a statement Monday that the restrictive law goes against the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, which ruled that viability occurs at 28 weeks.

If the law were to take effect, Hovland said nearly 90 percent of the abortions currently performed at the Red River Women’s Clinic, the sole clinic providing abortions in North Dakota, would be prohibited and the clinic would likely have to shut down.

“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 wrote.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed three pro-life bills into law in March, including one that would ban most abortions in the state. Dalrymple acknowledged a court battle is expected and asked state legislators to set aside funds to pay for the expenses.

The governor’s office released the following statement on the bills he signed:

“Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed HB 1305, HB 1456 and SB 2305 and provided the following statements to the Legislature:

North Dakota House and Senate presiding officers:

I have signed HB 1305 which would ban abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities.

I have signed HB 1456 which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. 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. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question. The Legislative Assembly before it adjourns should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General.

I have signed SB 2305 which requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota. The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions.”

Leading pro-life groups are concerned the measure would only entrench legalized abortion further. The legal case would perhaps give a pro-abortion dominated Supreme Court or lower courts a chance to reaffirm the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions in 1973.

Knowing that, they say a better strategy is supporting pro-life Senate candidates and electing a pro-life president in 2016 — paving the way for new Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe or uphold such an abortion ban.