Following up on a story we’ve been keeping an eye on, North Dakota lawmakers passed a “fetal heartbeat” bill in 2013, which banned abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. Even for ambitious, red-state Republicans, it was an audacious move.
The measure, which would have required some women to terminate unwanted pregnancies before they even knew they were pregnant, was never actually implemented, since a district court judge said the law was unlikely to prevail in the courts and granted an interim injunction.
And that assessment has proven to be accurate. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state law in July, and NBC News’ Pete Williams reported today that the state’s last-ditch effort also failed.
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected an appeal from North Dakota to revive its proposed restriction on abortions, which would be the strictest in the nation.By declining to take up the case, the justices left standing lower court rulings that found the restriction unconstitutional and blocked the law’s enforcement.
Note, the high court did not issue a ruling in this case; it simply decided not to hear the case. North Dakota has now run out of options.
As we discussed last summer, when Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) created the law nearly three years ago, he acknowledged that legal fights were inevitable, but he saw the measure as “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”
In other words, North Dakota taxpayers were on the hook, financing an experiment of sorts – the state would create a dubious law, knowing it would likely fail, as a political test. In the unlikely event that the law survived court challenges, policymakers would have successfully curtailed reproductive rights. If the law failed in the courts, North Dakota would have wasted time, money, and energy, which state Republicans were glad to invest in a culture-war cause.
As it turns out, the latter, predictable outcome is the one that came to fruition.