State's Abortion Ban Challenged at Hearing - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

State's Abortion Ban Challenged at Hearing

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North Dakota has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. But one group filed a legal challenge against the law saying it's unconstitutional to ban pregnancy as early as six-weeks, before many women even know they're pregnant. Both sides were in court today for a hearing.

Both sides referenced doctors' opinions on when a child can safely live outside of the womb when arguing whether or not the ban is unconstitutional. But the Federal District Court Judge held off on making a decision just yet.

Can a baby live outside the womb after six weeks of pregnancy? That was the debate today as The Center for Reproductive Rights and attorneys for the state presented arguments to North Dakota's federal district court.

"We had the opportunity to tell the court that this law would bring North Dakota women back into the dangerous time before Roe v. Wade when abortions were secret, illegal, undignified and it was not up to women whether they chose to keep or terminate a pregnancy," says attorney David Brown.

Brown is one of the representatives for the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, the state's only abortion clinic. The group filed the legal challenge to North Dakota's abortion law.

"None of the bills that have been passed in the last two legislative cycles have addressed unintended pregnancy, and so until we deal with that very real problem, bans like these will continue to be pushed back and women will continue to need our services," says Tammi Kromenaker of the Red River Women's Clinic.

They argue that experts say a fetus is not viable until about 24-weeks, or on a case-by-case basis according to doctors. But the defense says a heartbeat is how you determine whether a person is living or dead.

"I think it went well. We presented a good argument that the statute is constitutional. We're talking about a heartbeat, an unborn child," says attorney Dan Gaustad.

Judge Daniel Hovland says he'll have a ruling in two-to-three-weeks.

Both sides say they know this could go through to trial or eventually appeal to the Supreme Court.

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