On Monday, a federal judge temporarily blcked enforcement of a North Dakota abortion law that is considered to be the most restrictive in the nation. The so-called “fetal heartbeat” law would have gone into effect on August 1st and outlawed abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before some women even know they’re pregnant.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland questioned the abortion ban’s constitutional merits, writing, “There is no question that (the North Dakota law) is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion… [It] is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade from 1973 … and the progeny of cases that have followed.” A federal judge struck down Arkansas’ less restrictive 12-week abortion ban in May for similar reasons.
Anti-choice lawmakers in Texas filed an anti-abortion bill with a “fetal heartbeat” measure like North Dakota’s on the same day that Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks. Texas legislators seem to be aware that the provision is unconstitutional, since they included it as a “trigger” provision that will only go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Conservative anti-choice activists hope that multiple state abortion laws making their way to the Court will produce that very result.
Halfway through 2013, states have already enacted over 100 provisions relating to reproductive health and women’s medical rights. That makes this one of the worst years on record for reproductive freedom.