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U.S. judge overturns 6-week abortion ban

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 16, 2014 at 12:33 p.m.

BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge Wednesday overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they're pregnant.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland, who is based in Bismarck, said the law is "invalid and unconstitutional" and that it "cannot withstand a constitutional challenge." The state attorney general said he was looking at whether to appeal the decision.

North Dakota is among several conservative states that have passed new abortion restrictions in recent years, but abortion rights advocates called North Dakota's fetal heartbeat law the most restrictive in the country.

A fetal heartbeat law passed in Arkansas would ban abortions at 12 weeks into pregnancy, but it was overturned by another federal judge.

The state's attorney general has said he will appeal.

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