July 24, 2013


By Neal A. Shipmanj
Farmer Editor

When the North Dakota Legislature passed, and Gov. Dalrymple signed one of the most strict anti-abortion laws in the nation, there were many people who thought that the state was going down a long and bumpy legal road that would be lined with huge financial costs.
And that new law, which would have gone into effect on Aug. 1 and would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected, or after six weeks of pregnancy, has hit its first major bump in the road.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that the law is “clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law.”
Gov. Dalrymple and members of the state’s Legislature must have known that the state’s new abortion law would put the state right in the cross hairs of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling, which provides that women have the right to seek an abortion.
And knowing that the state could face significant legal challenges to its new law, Gov. Dalrymple also requested, and received, a $400,000 appropriation from the Legislature to finance possible litigation.
Well, it now appears that the concerns of many of the state’s citizens were right about a forthcoming challenge. And it appears that the state is now going to need every single bit of that $400,000 to try to prove in court that each and every state has the right to draft laws that challenge rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The issue of abortions and who can get one and when, is not only a highly political topic, but it is also a religious issue, as well as a very personal decision. And so is the issue of when does life begin. Does it begin at conception, at six weeks or 20 weeks?
While neither the Governor nor North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem have yet to weigh in on what response the state of North Dakota is going to take as a result of this temporary injunction, one thing is probably very clear. North Dakota is going to challenge the injunction and begin the start of what will no doubt be a very lengthy and costly court battle.
And Hovland, in his ruling, made it clear that this was North Dakota’s choice, when he wrote, “The state has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women. The United States Supreme Court has unequivocally said that no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.”
Obviously, the North Dakota Legislature and Gov. Dalrymple felt very strongly about the need to “draw a line in the sand” and put into state law an exact time within a pregnancy when abortions would no longer be permitted. And they knew that the law would be challenged.
The only question that now remains is how lengthy of a court process is it going to take before North Dakota’s new abortion law will either be determined to be valid or unconstitutional. And what is going to be the final price tag that is going to have to be paid by North Dakota taxpayers.