Federal Court Permanently Blocks Most Extreme Abortion Ban in the Country

Judge calls North Dakota’s ban on abortion at six weeks “a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women”

(PRESS RELEASE) Today a federal district court judge blocked North Dakota’s extreme and unconstitutional ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy—before many women even know they are pregnant.

In today’s decision permanently striking down the law, Judge Daniel Hovland wrote: “The United States Supreme Court has spoken and has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.”

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO with the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today’s decision puts a stop to this attempt by North Dakota politicians to send the women of their state back to the dark days before Roe v. Wade, when reproductive health care options were limited at best and deadly at worst.

“Women in North Dakota already face innumerable obstacles to safely and legally ending a pregnancy—and this law would have completely eliminated all safe or legal options for hundreds of miles in every direction.

“The court was correct to call this law exactly what it is: a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women. But women should not be forced to go to court, year after year in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights. We hope today’s decision, along with the long line of decisions striking down these attempts to choke off access to safe and legal abortion services in the U.S., sends a strong message to politicians across the country that our rights cannot be legislated away.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed lawsuit in June 2013 on behalf of North Dakota’s sole abortion provider challenging the state’s blatantly unconstitutional ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy—the nation’s most extreme ban on abortion. Judge Hovland temporarily blocked the ban in July 2013, calling the legislation “a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has also filed lawsuits on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic challenging measures that would essentially ban medication abortion in the state and the medically unnecessary requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The North Dakota Supreme Court is still reviewing the ban on medication abortion and the admitting privileges case has been settled.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like North Dakota from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.