(PRESS RELEASE) After permanently striking Arkansas’s ban on safe and legal abortion services at 12 weeks as unconstitutional earlier this year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit today permanently blocked North Dakota’s ban on abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy.
In light of today’s ruling, the state’s sole abortion clinic can continue providing safe, legal, high-quality services to the women and families of the state.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Today’s decision reaffirms that the U.S. Constitution protects women from the legislative attacks of politicians who would deny them their right to safely and legally end a pregnancy.
“No woman should ever have to fear her constitutional rights could disappear overnight by virtue of where she lives. It’s beyond time these anti-choice politicians in North Dakota and across the U.S. finally start focusing on laws and policies that actually matter to women and their families and put an end to relentless attacks on women’s health and rights."
North Dakota’s HB 1456—which was signed into law by Governor Jack Dalrymple in March 2013—is the earliest and most extreme abortion ban in the nation, making virtually all abortions in the state illegal as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Thomas A. Dickson of the Dickson Law Office in Bismarck filed the lawsuit in June 2013 challenging the ban on behalf of Red River Women’s Clinic—the state’s sole abortion provider. A federal district court judge temporarily blocked the ban in July 2013 and then permanently blocked the law in April 2014, noting “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.”
Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—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.