Judge blocks enforcement of N.D. abortion law

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of North Dakota's new abortion law -- the nation's most restrictive.

The law, which was to take effect next week, would ban abortions beginning at six weeks, when the fetal heartbeat could be detected. In a brief order, the judge said, "The threshold question is whether the United States Constitution permits the North Dakota legislature to prohibit abortion beginning at six weeks gestation and before the fetus is viable. The Supreme Court has clearly spoken and held that it does not."

If the law were to take effect, Judge Daniel Hovland said, "nearly 90% of the abortions currently performed at the Red River Women's Clinic, the sole clinic providing abortions in North Dakota," would be prohibited and the clinic would likely have to shut down.