Federal Court Overturns North Dakota Law Banning Abortions at 6 Weeks

State   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jul 23, 2015   |   5:55PM   |   Fargo, ND

In North Dakota, a federal court has overturned the state’s six-week abortion ban, claiming that it’s unconstitutional. A federal court in May overturned a similar ban in Arkansas earlier this year.

The measure bans abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, but pro-life groups expected the lawsuit and expected it would be overturned in court as conflicting with Roe v. Wade, which prohibits states from banning abortions.

As LifeNews previously reported, at 22 days into pregnancy unborn children complete the development of their heart to the point that a heartbeat begins and the bill would stop abortions at that point. The law was meant to ban abortions when the unborn babies heartbeat begins but would have been applied at six weeks of pregnancy.

The Star Tribune reports that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about their ruling on the six-week ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”

Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter.

Additionally, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he would be reviewing the opinion.

He said, “Once the review is complete, we will make a determination of what further action, if any, is advisable.”

In May, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a similar bill in Arkansas that banned abortion after 12-weeks of pregnancy. The court said, “By banning abortions after 12 weeks’ gestation, the Act prohibits women from making the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy at a point before viability. Because the State made no attempt to refute the plaintiffs’ assertions of fact, the district court’s summary judgment order must be affirmed.”

Although the intent of both of these laws was to protect unborn children, some pro-life groups didn’t support the legislation because they knew if passed it would be struck down in court. This is because the U.S. Supreme Court is currently dominated by at least a 5-4 pro-abortion majority.

After the legislation passed in North Dakota in 2013, Governor Jack Dalrymple said the following about the bill: “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.”