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A fleeting victory for abortion rights

Protestors lie floor Texas Capitol extensionJuly18  after Gov. Rick Perry signed  sweeping new abortirestrictions thcould shutter most state's

Protestors lie on the floor of the Texas Capitol extensionon July18 after Gov. Rick Perry signed sweeping new abortion restrictions that could shutter most of the state's clinics that provide the procedure. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Laura Sk

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Updated: August 30, 2013 6:23AM

Afederal judge last week temporarily blocked a North Dakota law that prohibits most abortions after about six weeks, the time when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected.

The nation’s most restrictive abortion law has been halted, for now.

That’s a victory in our book, but only a fleeting one as the national assault on Roe vs. Wade and abortion rights continues.

The law’s supporters, like North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, hope to continue defending the law in court. If implemented, it would limit over 90 percent of abortions at the state’s sole clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic.

Most women aren’t aware they are pregnant at six weeks, let alone contemplating termination. This law would make it nearly impossible for women to have an abortion. What’s more, it takes a trans-vaginal ultrasound, an invasive and unnecessary procedure, to even detect a fetal heartbeat at such an early stage. Judge Daniel Hovland had it right when he said that “the State of North Dakota has presented no evidence to justify the passage of this troubling law.”

North Dakota is hardly the first state to challenge U.S. Supreme Court guidelines, which say women have a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable, usually around 24 weeks. Texas recently enacted a law that bans abortions after 20 weeks and effectively closes all but five abortion clinics in the state. In Arkansas, a U.S. District judge stepped in to rule that the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act, banning abortion after 12 weeks, was unconstitutional after legislators overrode Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe’s veto.

Pro-life extremists hide behind claims of protecting a mother and unborn child to disguise their true motivations: restricting women’s rights and eventually challenging Roe vs. Wade.

In previous editorials, we’ve said we are open to discussing new scientific evidence related to viability and fetal pain. We still are.

But the efforts in places like North Dakota are not based on science. They are a thinly disguised effort to chip away at Roe vs. Wade, leaving women with limited and sometimes no choices. The ultimate goal is to build a case to sway a fifth vote on the Supreme Court.

A victory today, another battle tomorrow.

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