North Dakota's law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected has officially been declared unconstitutional garbage by a federal judge today. One dumb anti-choice law down, only eleventy zillion to go.
North Dakota's ban, which would have outlawed abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy (a point at which many women don't know they're pregnant), was signed into law last year by Republican governor Jack Dalrymple. Last summer, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Red River Clinic in Fargo (the state's only abortion clinic) joined forces to file suit.
In his ruling in favor of the plaintiffs today, District 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. The controversy over a woman's right to choose to have an abortion will never end. The issue is undoubtedly one of the most divisive of social issues. The United States Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on this emotionally-fraught issue but, until that occurs, this Court is obligated to uphold existing Supreme Court precedent.
North Dakota's Attorney General says the state will appeal the ruling, thus wasting even more money and resources on an effort that is doomed to fail. One hopes.
Cocky policy touchdown celebrating aside, the excerpt from Hovland's ruling posted above should be an ominous reminder that while Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey both affirm women's constitutional right to access abortion, the current lineup in the Supreme Court doesn't exactly lean liberal. If justices were to consider a challenge to Roe, who knows what would happen. As it stands right now, dozens of equally garbage laws designed to come between a woman and her right to access the health care she chooses are either currently in force or engaged in their own court battles. And just yesterday, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a law allowing officials to show up for surprise inspections at abortion clinics, another attempt to burden abortion providers with so many rules and restrictions that continuing to operate becomes difficult. So much for small government.
In the meantime, if you want to give yourself an afternoon wakeup scare, go ahead and read up a little about Planned Parenthood v. Casey and how close women came in 1992 to losing Roe entirely. Read about it and remember that the people lining up outside of clinics with rosaries and pictures of fetal remains will also be lining up at the polls come November.