The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday denied certiorari [order list, PDF] in a case regarding a North Dakota law that would ban abortion as soon as a heartbeat is detectable, as early as six weeks. The Abortion Control Act [text, PDF] was struck down by the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [JURIST reports]. The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case means that the ban cannot be enforced, which is consistent with precedent that states cannot ban abortion before viability, usually around 24 weeks. However, the Eighth Circuit did suggest that the Supreme Court reconsider its stance [AP report] in light of scientific and medical advances in the last 40 years.
Abortion waiting periods and reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder] have been heated topics throughout the US. Last week the Supreme Court declined to revive an Arkansas law that would ban abortions after 12 weeks [JURIST report]. In May Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin [official website] signed House Bill 1409 [bill information] into law extending the mandatory [JURIST report] waiting period for women seeking an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. In April Alabama state representative Terri Collins [official website] proposed a bill to ban abortion [JURIST report] once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Also in April Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official website] signed a bill [press release] that bans all forms of dismemberment abortion unless necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. In March Arizona Governor Doug Ducey [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that requires abortion providers in the state to tell women that they can reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion, in addition to barring women from buying any healthcare plan through the federal marketplace that includes coverage for abortions. Also in March the West Virginia Legislature overrode [JURIST report] the state governor’s veto, passing a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks.