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US judge delays state’s abortion ban law

July 22, 2013

BISMARCK, North Dakota (AP) — A U.S. judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into pregnancy — calling the law “clearly invalid and unconstitutional.” Abortion rights advocates call the law the most restrictive in the country.

North Dakota is one of several that seek to challenge the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision decades ago that made abortion legal.

The temporary injunction blocks the Aug. 1 enactment of the law.

The state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, said the state will ask the court for a trial.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the state’s lone abortion clinic, filed a lawsuit in June after the law was passed this year. The law would outlaw the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy — before some women even know they are pregnant.

Abortion-rights advocates say the measures are an attempt to close the state’s only abortion clinic.

Supporters of the so-called fetal heartbeat measure, including Gov. Jack Dalrymple, have said it’s a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Dalrymple, said the governor would not comment on the ruling.

The clinic’s lawsuit also is challenging another new measure that would make North Dakota the only state to prohibit women from having an abortion because a fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome.

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