Judge Says North Dakota’s Abortion Ban Is “Clearly Unconstitutional”

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=102293644">spirit of america</a>/Shutterstock


A judge has blocked the country’s most restrictive abortion law from taking effect in North Dakota. The law, passed in March, would ban abortion at the point when a fetal heartbeat can be detected—which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The law is what earned North Dakota the championship in our Anti-Choice March Madness tournament earlier this year.

In his decision, US District Judge Daniel L. Hovland said the law would not pass constitutional muster:

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.

There is only one abortion clinic in North Dakota, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, and it has to fly doctors in from out of state to provide the procedure. Hovland’s ruling notes that the law would basically make it impossible to get an abortion in North Dakota:

Typically only women who have regular menstrual periods, keep close track of them, and take a pregnancy test promptly after a missed period at four weeks LMP, will know they are pregnant by six weeks. Because the Clinic only performs abortions one day per week, and cannot safely perform abortions before five weeks [of her last menstrual period], [the law] will effectively limit a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion to a single day during the pregnancy’s fifth week.

North Dakota’s law is the most strict in the country so far, but last week Texas lawmakers introduced a bill that would also outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Today’s ruling in North Dakota is a preliminary injunction that stops the law from going into effect until the full case can be heard.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate