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CWA of North Dakota Applauds Appeal of Federal Court Decision on Heartbeat Law

By May 15, 2014North Dakota
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In April Federal Judge Daniel L. Hovland struck down the North Dakota Heartbeat Law deeming it “unconstitutional”. It is, however, noteworthy to pay attention to Judge Hovland’s last comments in his opinion: “The controversy over a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion will never end. The issue is undoubtedly one of the most divisive of social issues. The United States Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on this emotionally-fraught issue but, until that occurs, this Court is obligated to uphold existing Supreme Court precedent”.

Yesterday North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem appealed this decision to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. “It seems prudent that an appellate court should have an opportunity to consider the issue rather than have one judge overturn the judgment of the Legislative Assembly,” Stenehjem said in a statement. The North Dakota Heartbeat Law was signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2013 after passing the Legislature with a bi-partisan majority. Gov. Dalrymple called it “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

CWA of North Dakota supports the Attorney General and applauds the decision to appeal. We believe it is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the most urgent human rights issue of all time.

North Dakota Representative Bette Grande, the sponsor of the law, wrote a letter to Attorney General Stenehjem in late April showing support for an appeal. The letter was signed by 60 legislators including members of both parties; it stated that Judge Hovland’s ruling was expected, not due to the law being unconstitutional but rather because a sitting district judge isn’t going to overturn a Supreme Court decision. The High Court “has not directly examined questions of the baby’s growth and development in the womb” for 40 years, despite gains made in medical science, Rep. Grande stated.

A human heartbeat is detectable as early as six weeks. Science has moved forward by leaps and bounds in the past 40+ years since abortion on demand was legalized in Roe v. Wade. By establishing the Heartbeat Law, North Dakota stands solidly on the side of science in the fight to establish the inalienable right to life for every human being. In the Casey v. Planned Parenthood case in the early 1990’s, the Supreme Court stated: “… the State has a legitimate interest from the outset of pregnancy to protect life – or the potential life – of the baby.” No matter what reason abortion advocates conjure up, viability, unlike a heartbeat, tells us nothing about the humanity of the unborn child and should not be used to determine whether a child can live or die.

As frustrating as U.S. Supreme Court rulings can be, North Dakotans should know that out-of-state abortion rights groups are trying to get state courts to grant a right to abortion that is even greater than the right most recently found by the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, they have already convinced a judge in Fargo to go along with their agenda; Judge Corwin last summer found a “fundamental right to abortion” in the North Dakota Constitution, something that obviously is NOT there. This is why it is urgent to pass the North Dakota Human Life Amendment on the ballot as Measure #1 in November: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Visit for more information.

The only way to stop this radical agenda to strike down North Dakota’s common sense laws is to pass the Human Life Amendment in November. The amendment was placed on the ballot by a bipartisan vote of the state legislature to protect our existing common sense laws, provide a foundation for future laws based on North Dakota values, and stop judges from fabricating an unfettered right to abortion. To find out more, visit