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US court won't let North Dakota enforce tough abortion law

Published:Monday | January 25, 2016 | 11:02 PMAP



The US Supreme Court refused yesterday to review lower court rulings overturning North Dakota's ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant.

The justices turned away the state's appeal of decisions striking down the 2013 fetal heartbeat law as unconstitutional. The law never took effect, and abortion-rights supporters said it was the strictest anti-abortion measure in the country.

The high court last week rejected Arkansas' bid to enforce its own fetal heartbeat law, banning some abortions at 12 weeks. Both measures had been struck down by a unanimous panel of three judges appointed by President George W. Bush to the St. Louis-based 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We knew it was unlikely and it came as no surprise," North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said of the high court's refusal to review the case.

The Supreme Court gets about 7,500 requests each year but takes on fewer than 100 cases.