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N.D. appeals ruling on fetal-heartbeat abortion ban

BISMARCK - North Dakota is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that permanently blocked a state law that would have banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a notice of appeal here Wednesday to U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland’s April 16 ruling that said the law would essentially ban all abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy and “cannot withstand a constitutional challenge.”

Stenehjem said he consulted with state officials and the other defendants in the case -- Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick and the state Board of Medical Examiners -- before deciding to appeal.

More than 60 North Dakota lawmakers signed a letter sent to Stenehjem last month urging him to appeal Hovland’s ruling blocking the law, which would have established the strictest abortion ban in the nation.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis will hear the appeal, with oral arguments expected sometime in the fall, Stenehjem said.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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