A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a North Dakota law that bans abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy, siding with reproductive health advocates and stating in no uncertain terms that the law is clearly unconstitutional.
"There is no question that North Dakota H.B. 1456 is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion," U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote. "H.B. 1456 is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade from 1973, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey from 1992, and the progeny of cases that have followed. As a practical matter, H.B. 1456 would ban nearly 90% of all abortions performed at the only clinic in North Dakota which provides such services, in direct contradiction to United States Supreme Court precedent."
Judge Hovland also cited recent court rulings against similar abortion bans passed by Republicans in Arizona and Arkansas, which prohibited abortions after 20 weeks and after 12 weeks, respectively. The law is now on hold pending the court's full opinion, even though the judge's ruling on the injunction pretty much outlines exactly what the court's opinion will be.
This was not an unexpected outcome for North Dakota Republicans. When he signed the law in March, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) told lawmakers to appropriate funds for its legal defense, calling the new law an "attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade."
H.B. 1456 is the second sweeping abortion restriction North Dakota lawmakers have passed, only to seen put on hold by a judge. An outright ban on all medical abortion, passed in 2011 and immediately frozen by an injunction order, was struck down in court earlier this month.
“The nation’s most extreme abortion ban has been blocked, and the message to hostile politicians could not be clearer: the rights of women guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and protected by 40 years of Supreme Court precedent cannot be legislated away," Center for Reproductive Rights U.S. legal program director Bebe Anderson said in an advisory. "Today’s decision ensures for the moment that the women of North Dakota won’t need to worry whether they will still have the same constitutionally protected rights as women living in other parts of the United States."