Federal judge temporarily blocks strict abortion law

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A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland ruled that the law, which was signed by signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in March and was set to take effect on Aug. 1, was “clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority.” Hovland granted an injunction against the law until the case is settled.

“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. The United States Supreme Court has unequivocally said that no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability,” Hovland wrote in his decision.

He further noted that the law would ban nearly 90 percent of all abortions in the state and added that the ban on abortions when a heartbeat is detected “cannot withstand a constitutional challenge in any court of law.”

The challenge to the law was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights last month on behalf of North Dakota’s only abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s 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,” Bebe Anderson, director of the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.

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