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SCOTUS Rejects ND Abortion Law

The Supreme Court declined to review North Dakota's six-week abortion ban, effectively blocking the 2013 law permanently. (Morguefile.com/Kconnors)
The Supreme Court declined to review North Dakota's six-week abortion ban, effectively blocking the 2013 law permanently. (Morguefile.com/Kconnors)
January 26, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. -Women's health advocates are praising the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing on Monday to review North Dakota's six-week abortion ban. The move upholds a lower-court ruling from last year that blocked the state's controversial "fetal heartbeat" law.

Critics claimed the legislation, one of the strictest in the country, essentially would outlaw abortion in the state.

"We're very pleased on behalf of North Dakota women that the Supreme Court has agreed not to review this unconstitutional and extreme anti-abortion law," said David Brown, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights who is representing North Dakota's only abortion provider.

The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo filed suit over the law two years ago. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a supporter of the abortion ban, told reporters he understood that it was likely to be struck down.

While reproductive-rights advocates are calling Monday's decision a win, Brown said North Dakota would have been better served by lawmakers if they would have put their energies elsewhere.

"We're sorry that North Dakota taxpayers will have to foot the bill for their politicians' attempt to attack women's constitutional rights," he said, "but we're very pleased that those rights have been affirmed."

This latest move from the Supreme Court comes in the wake of similar decisions on several other state abortion challenges. Last week the court refused to hear arguments on Arkansas' 12-week abortion ban. In 2014, the Supreme Court also refused a review of Arizona's 20-week ban.

A CRR statement is online at reproductiverights.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND