A judge for the US District Court for the District of North Dakota [official website] on Monday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] a North Dakota abortion law, calling it unconstitutional. HB 1456 [test, PDF] is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country [NBC report] and would prohibit abortions after the point at which cardiac activity can be detected in a pregnancy, or as early as six weeks. The law was scheduled to take effect next week, but Judge Daniel Hovland's decision, which held [LAT report] that the law is inconsistent with US Supreme Court precedent, halts its enforcement:
A woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for forty years. The undersigned is bound to follow that precedent and uphold the law. Because the United States Supreme Court has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this dispute, this Court is not free to impose its own view of the law. The State of North Dakota has presented no evidence to justify the passage of this troubling law. 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. North Dakota House Bill 1456 is clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority.The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged [JURIST report] the law on behalf of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo after North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed a number of abortion bills into law last March.
North Dakota is one of many states [JURIST backgrounder] to enact restrictive abortion laws in recently. Last week a state judge struck down [JURIST report] another North Dakota law placing limitations on drug-induced abortions. Earlier this month the Texas Senate passed [JURIST report] an abortion bill which bans abortions after 20 weeks. Also this month North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio [JURIST reports] enacted laws which place restrictions on abortion.