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BISMARCK, North Dakota, November 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – North Dakota has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend its pro-life heartbeat bill.

As LifeSiteNews reported, officials were likely to appeal in defense of the bill, which was passed in 2013 and signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state over the law, and in April 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland declared the law unconstitutional and permanently blocked it. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Hovland's block in July.

Now, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

North Dakota's heartbeat bill would prohibit killing a baby in the womb whose heartbeat can be detected.  If upheld, it would be the most pro-life bill in the country.

Attorney General Stenehjem said the state's appeal was “a long shot.”

This is precisely the scenario that has split the pro-life movement in Ohio. Governor John Kasich and Ohio legislators like State Sen. Keith Faber have opposed an Ohio heartbeat bill, despite claiming to be pro-life, because they fear that a Supreme Court challenge would give the country's highest justices an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen the nation's abortion industry.

Kasich's and Faber's opposition to the pro-life bill has prompted citizens to dub the governor “a Pro-life Pretender.” Janet Porter of Faith2Action was once a spokesperson for Gov. Kasich, who is now a presidential candidate, but Porter split with Kasich over the heartbeat bill proposed in Ohio.

“You can't block a bill like this and call yourself pro-life,” Porter told LifeSiteNews.

The 196-page North Dakota appeal argues that a baby's viability has changed since 1973's Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decreed that abortion cannot be restricted before viability, then defined as 26 weeks. In its 1992 Casey decision, the Supreme Court defined viability at 24 weeks.

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Roe's companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, which the Supreme Court ruled must be read with Roe, ruled that abortion is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy for reasons of “health,” defined so broadly as to include distress or anxiety. Nevertheless, states are granted an interest in restricting abortions after viability.

But North Dakota is arguing that modern science has proven that even newly conceived babies are both human and alive. The state's appeal charges that the Supreme Court's Roe decision nearly 43 years ago “fails to account for advancements in medical science establishing that an unborn child is viable from conception.”

“Based upon the substantial, uncontested evidence presented by North Dakota in this case, it can no longer be denied that human life begins at conception,” the appeal states.

The state argues that the presence of a beating heart “has been used by both medical doctors and lay people alike for millennia in determining whether a human being is alive or dead.”

If modern science can transfer a pre-born child from his mother's womb to a surrogate, the state argues, then “viability” must be redefined.

“The presence of a beating heart in an unborn child should likewise serve as a legitimate point at which a state can ban abortions,” the appeal states. “This is particularly true given the growing (and on this record, undisputed) medical evidence of significant physical and psychological harm to women from abortion, and the readiness of the state to assume complete responsibility for any unwanted child.”

Even pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor admitted that Roe “is clearly on a collision course with itself[.] … The choice of viability as the point at which the state interest in potential life becomes compelling is no less arbitrary than choosing any point before viability or any point afterward.” 

Last year, the Supreme Court refused to hear Arizona's appeal defending that state's 20-week abortion ban. The Supreme Court receives about 10,000 petitions each year and hears oral arguments in only about 75 cases.

A decision to decline or accept the case will likely come in January or February.

Stenehjem, who is expected to announce his candidacy for Governor of North Dakota, said the appeal didn't cost taxpayers any money because attorney and special assistant Ron Fischer agreed to draft the petition pro bono.

As LifeSiteNews reported, the state of Arkansas is appealing the overturning of its own heartbeat bill, and the Supreme Court has given pro-abortionists until December tenth to submit their arguments.