Judge Blocks N. Dakota Abortion Ban

Says ban on abortions after a heartbeat is detected is 'invalid and unconstitutional'

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 22, 2013 4:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – A federal judge has temporarily blocked the new North Dakota law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, calling it "clearly invalid and unconstitutional," the AP reports. The law was set to go into effect at the beginning of August but the judge granted the temporary injunction after the state's only abortion clinic filed a lawsuit. Fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. The Red River Women's Clinic says the ban will put it out of business by outlawing 90% of the abortions it performs, Reuters reports.

The lawsuit argues the ban is unconstitutional and will put women's health at risk. If Red River closes, women will have to travel about 250 miles to neighboring states to have the procedure. "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," the judge wrote in his ruling, per the Washington Post. The lawsuit is also fighting another new measure that prohibits women from having an abortion because their fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome, reports the AP.

An abortion-rights rally at the state Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota.
An abortion-rights rally at the state Capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota.   (AP Photo/James MacPherson, File)
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