North Dakota “Fetal Heartbeat” Law Ruled Unconstitutional
The issue of abortion will most likely never be “settled.” Despite the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to an abortion is seen by some as a right to commit murder. In the 40 years since the case was decided, individual states have continually tested laws that seek to circumvent the result of Roe v Wade, but almost always they fail in the courts.
The most recent failure on the “pro-birth” side of the argument comes from North Dakota, who passed four laws last year that were, according to Governor Jack Dalrymple via the The Jamestown Sun, “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”
The most restrictive of those laws was struck down Wednesday by a federal judge. The law would ban so-called “fetal heartbeat abortions,” meaning that if a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat he or she could be charged with a Class C felony. Since the heartbeat begins sometime around six weeks of pregnancy—often before the mothers themselves know they are pregnant—this law effectively banned all abortion in the state.
Daniel Hovland, Judge for the US District Court, writes in his ruling, “there is no question that North Dakota House Bill 1456 is in direct contradiction” with established law. While the trimester-based framework of Roe v. Wade has already been discarded, the idea that abortion was a woman’s choice has been consistently upheld. However, this law removed that choice by targeting the doctors performing the procedures.
This latest ruling is a victory for all those who see abortion as anything other than a political football. The late comedian George Carlin had a lengthy routine about the inherent problems with “Pro-life” advocates’ inconsistencies. Essentially his argument was that such advocates seem to stop caring about these “babies” after they are born. As with all great comedy-philosophers, Carlin had a very important part.
One could easily argue that the push to make abortion illegal is more about forcing others’ morality on society-at-large. The decision to have a child is complex and involves dozens of variables, not the least of which are the parents’ ability to care for the children (in both the economic and natural senses).
Rather than spending millions of dollars for protests and legal challenges, why not invest that money in improving communities and access to opportunity? Rather than working so hard to make abortion an impossible choice, why not work to make the alternative a more attractive choice? The answer is simply that trying to make it illegal is far easier than figuring out how to fix all of society.