[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] the April 2014 decision [JURIST report] of the US District Court for the District of North Dakota [official website] striking down an extremely restrictive North Dakota anti-abortion law. The Human Heartbeat Protection Act [text], signed into law in 2013 Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website], would have made it class C felony for a doctor to perform an abortion if the fetus had a detectable heartbeat. The court stated in its opinion:
Because there is no genuine dispute that H.B. 1456 generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm [the lower court ruling].
The law had been put on hold since 2013 when the state’s only abortion clinic filed a lawsuit last July.
Abortion [JURIST news archive] related issues have been a heated topic of discussion for the past several years in the US. In July Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law [JURIST report] the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, limiting the ability of a woman to seek an abortion more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy. Last month the US Supreme Court granted a motion to stay [JURIST report], allowing over half of Texas’ 18 abortion clinics to stay open by temporarily blocking a law that would place stringent requirements on clinics requiring the majority of them to close. Also last month a Kansas judge for the Shawnee County District Court blocked a law [JURIST report] that would have effectively banned most second-trimester abortions performed in the state. In May the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down [JURIST report] portions of two Idaho abortion laws.