Appeals court hears Arkansas, North Dakota abortion cases

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ST. LOUIS , MO –North Dakota and Arkansas have asked a federal appeals court in St. Louis to reinstate two of the nation’s most stringent abortion bans.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the cases Tuesday. The states want to reinstate abortion restrictions approved by lawmakers in 2013 but overturned by lower federal courts in separate decisions.

The North Dakota law banned abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. A U.S. District Court judge in Bismarck ruled the law unconstitutional in April 2014.

The Arkansas law banned abortions after 12 weeks. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature overrode former Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto.

The appeals court didn’t immediately rule.