A federal judge overturned a North Dakota abortion ban Wednesday. The law, considered one of the most restrictive in the country, bans abortion after a heartbeat is detected, which is typically about six weeks in.
Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the measure into law last July with overwhelming support from North Dakota’s Republican-led legislature, reports the Bismarck Tribune. But Red River Clinic, the state’s only abortion clinic, almost immediately filed a lawsuit with the help of a New York-based reproductive rights organization.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland said it’s “invalid and unconstitutional.” Supreme Court precedent is “unequivocally” clear, he wrote in the ruling, that no state can deprive a woman of the right to an abortion “prior to viability.”
The state attorney general is considering appealing the decision, but said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling.
Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement the court made the right decision, reports ABC News. “The court was correct to call this law exactly what it is: a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women,” Northrup said. “But women should not be forced to go to court, year after year in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights.”
The law is one of four anti-abortion laws passed in North Dakota last year.