(PRESS RELEASE) A federal judge ruled today that North Dakota's law banning abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy—before many women even know they are pregnant—cannot take effect while the legal challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, on behalf of the state's only abortion clinic, is ongoing.
According to U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland's ruling today:
"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."
Said Bebe Anderson, director of the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
"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.
"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.
"For the last four decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently recognized a woman's right under the U.S. Constitution to make her own reproductive health care decisions, and we are confident that the courts will continue to affirm that fundamental right as this legal battle continues."
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit, MKB Management, Inc. v. Burdick, in federal court in June 2013 on behalf of the Red River Women's Clinic—North Dakota's only abortion clinic—and its medical director. Red River Women's Clinic provides a range of reproductive health services to women in North Dakota, as well as to women who travel from neighboring states like South Dakota and Minnesota.
The Center also took legal action in May 2013 to block North Dakota Senate Bill 2305, a 2013 bill designed to shut down Red River Women's Clinic and effectively end safe and legal abortion in the state by imposing medically unwarranted requirements that any physician performing abortions in the state must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.