Federal judge blocks North Dakota's 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked North Dakota's anti-abortion law, which banned the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.


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.”

The state's law prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can come as early as six weeks, even before some women know they are pregnant.

“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.

The law was set to take effect Aug. 1, but Hovland granted an injunction that bars the restrictions from taking effect while the courts consider its merits.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of North Dakota's only abortion clinic.

“The nation’s most extreme abortion ban has been blocked, and the message to hostile politicians could not be clearer: The rights of women guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and protected by 40 years of Supreme Court precedent cannot be legislated away," said Bebe Anderson, the director of the center's legal program.