Supreme Court rejects bid to uphold fetal heartbeat law

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced today (Jan. 25) it will not review a lower court’s decision to strike down North Dakota’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

That means the state’s 2013 “fetal heartbeat law,” which attempted to defend unborn children with detectable heartbeats, will be blocked permanently from taking effect.

“The decision is not surprising,” according to a news release from LifeNews.com, “given the high court still has a pro-abortion majority that support Roe v. Wade, which allows virtually unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy and essentially prevents states from protecting most unborn children.”

In signing the fetal heartbeat law two years ago, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it was “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” LifeNews.com reported. Dalrymple added that “the constitutionality of this measure is an open question” and that the legislature should appropriate funds for the bill’s legal defense.

The legislature took his advice by setting aside a total of $800,000 for defense of abortion laws, only $320,029 of which was used through the end of 2015, according to The Associated Press.

A federal appeals court overturned the fetal heartbeat law in 2014, and the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed, stating in July the law “generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept.” Federal appellate courts “are bound by Supreme Court precedent,” which allows abortion restrictions only after a baby is “viable,” the three-judge panel said.

However, the appellate panel asked the Supreme Court to take up North Dakota’s law in light of changes in medical science related to fetal viability and the fact that current abortion law “discounts the legislative branch’s recognized interest in protecting unborn children,” AP reported.

After the Supreme Court announced its decision not to hear the case, North Dakota attorney general Wayne Stenehjem told the Bismark Tribune he “knew just going in” that getting the court to uphold his state’s law “was going to be a longshot.” He added, “This is the end of what we can do.”

Last week, the high court also refused to review a stricken-down Arkansas fetal heartbeat law that would have banned some abortions at 12 weeks. The two refusals likely mean the best chance for a pro-life decision this term is a case involving a Texas law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges and abortion clinics to meet the same quality standards as other ambulatory surgery clinics.

by David Roach | BP

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