A few short weeks ago, Arkansas adopted what was then the country's strictest ban on abortion (opens in new tab) — no procedures allowed after 12 weeks. But on Friday, North Dakota one-upped the classically red state by passing a bill that is twice as restrictive, banning most abortions after just six weeks into pregnancy.
But what is different about this new North Dakota ban is that the state has redefined what it means for a fetal heartbeat to be "detectable." The 12-week mark comes with the assumption that a heartbeat cannot be heard before that time while using "standard medical practice," otherwise known as an abdominal ultrasound. However, North Dakota has tweaked that definition of "standard medical practice" to include an intrusive, pelvic ultrasound, detectable at just six weeks.
Along the same lines as Arkansas' 12-week ban, national abortion rights groups are up in arms as to the federal constitutionality of this new, record-breakingly stringent measure. According to the Supreme Court, women have the constitutional right to an abortion until roughly 24 weeks, in which the fetus is animate outside the womb.
There's a trend brewing here, and we're not sure whether the Supreme Court is soon to stop it in its tracks before more states follow suit. We'll be watching this development every step of the way.
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