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Sole N.D. Abortion Clinic Asks for Permanent Block of Fetal Heartbeat Law

Sole N.D. Abortion Clinic Asks for Permanent Block of Fetal Heartbeat Law

April 8, 2014 — Attorneys representing North Dakota's only abortion clinic on Friday asked a federal judge to issue a permanent injunction against a state law (HB 1456) that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, the AP/Bismarck Tribune reports (AP/Bismarck Tribune, 4/4).

Last year, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the law, which would ban abortions as early as six weeks.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in June 2013 by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Red River Women's Clinic of Fargo (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/23/13).

Friday's Hearing

Attorneys for the state argued that life begins at conception, adding that a heartbeat historically signifies something is alive.

State attorney Dan Gaustad said the law "protects the lives of unborn children" and "the health of women." He said the law is a legitimate challenge to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that barred states from outlawing abortion prior to fetal viability.

Attorneys representing the clinic said the law would ban most abortions in North Dakota. David Brown, an attorney for the clinic, said after the hearing, "We're quite confident the judge will find this ban unconstitutional and that it is so blatantly in violation of Roe v. Wade and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent that he will rule in our favor."

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland said he would rule in the next few weeks on whether to issue a permanent injunction. If he does not make the injunction permanent, the case will go to trial, according to the AP/Tribune (AP/Bismarck Tribune, 4/4).