A U.S. District judge rejected North Dakota’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law Wednesday. The rule would have outlawed abortions performed after the fetus develops a heartbeat, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
Judge Daniel L. Hovland ruled that the nation’s abortion law of its kind was “invalid and unconstitutional” reports The Washington Times.
The law faced scrutiny from pro-choice supporters, saying it would not allow some women time to find out they were pregnant. Pro-choice advocates also argued that the law would go against the Supreme Court’s decision that women should have access to abortion procedures before the fetus becomes viable; this usually occurs at 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The state of North Dakota had already outlawed abortions performed after 20 weeks under the defense that fetuses have developed pain receptors by that point in gestation.
If passed, the ‘heartbeat’ law would have affected only one abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota.
Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker said, “Today’s decision by Judge Hovland is not a surprise -- but we are certainly greatly relieved to have the decision.”
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has not yet announced a plan for court appeal.
Publication date: April 17, 2014