“A federal judge has temporarily blocked a recent North Dakota law that would ban abortions as early as six weeks – the earliest prohibition in the nation – calling the measure “clearly unconstitutional” and a “troubling law.”
“The United States Supreme Court has unequivocally said that no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability. North Dakota House Bill 1456 is clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority,” Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in a 22-page ruling granting a preliminary injunction.”
I’m a wishy-washy moderate on abortion, but in this case I have to agree with the legal reasoning behind this decision. The Supreme Court has ruled that viability is the criteria which determines when a state can restrict abortion, and I don’t think there is any scientific research to suggest that a 6-week-old fetus can survive outside of the womb.
That being said, this standard may pose interesting questions in the future. As medical technology advances, the survival rates for premature births will improve, and the line of viability will continue to move to earlier and earlier in the pregnancy. I can imagine a point in the next 50 years where a pregnancy could occur entirely outside of the womb, meaning that any embryo or fetus could be considered “viable”. What happens then?
The inevitable conclusion is that a new standard will be required to replace viability. What exacly that would be, I don’t know. But if this North Dakota case comes up to the Supreme Court, it could pave the way for the most significant abortion case since Roe v. Wade. I am of the opinion that it would be best for the Court to amend the viability standard before it becomes obsolete, rather than putting it off until the last minute.
But I won’t hold my breath.