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Federal judge hears arguments in ND abortion case

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Attorneys representing a Fargo clinic are asking a federal judge to permanently block a North Dakota law that bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected. They say it would outlaw most abortions.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights is representing Fargo's Red River Women's Clinic in a lawsuit challenging the law passed last year by the North Dakota Legislature. It outlaws abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy before many women know they're pregnant.

During arguments Friday, attorneys representing the state argued vitality begins at conception and a heartbeat historically signifies life.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland is expected to rule within weeks on whether to make permanent a temporary injunction that he granted in July. If not, the case will go to trial.