North Dakota passes restrictive abortion laws

by
March 18, 2013

The North Dakota Legislature has approved a bill that would ban abortions at approximately six weeks. That would be the earliest abortion ban in the nation and likely set up a clash with the Supreme Court’s long-established Roe v. Wade precedent.

The bill, passed by the state Senate on Friday after passage in the House last month, is one of a half-dozen strict anti-abortion bills the Legislature is considering this session. It would ban most abortions after a heartbeat is detected — which is typically six weeks to seven weeks into a pregnancy — with an exception for the health or the life of the mother.

It came the week after Arkansas approved a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks — the earliest ban in the country, which also could end up before the Supreme Court.

The state Senate also passed a bill prohibiting sex-selective abortions and abortions based on a diagnosis of genetic abnormality. Both bills now go to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature or veto. He has three legislative days to consider them, and if he gives the OK, they’ll go into effect Aug. 1.

Republican state Rep. Bette Grande, the bills’ sponsor, said she feels confident Dalrymple — also a Republican — will sign both.

Before the vote, Dalrymple’s spokesman, Jeff Zent, said, “The governor will need to see the final product from the legislative process before he can take a position.”

Until this year, the earliest abortion ban in the country was at 20 weeks of pregnancy — and some of those laws face legal challenges. Ten states have passed such bans, and Idaho’s law banning abortions after 20 weeks was struck down by a federal judge earlier this month. Suits are pending against two other 20-week state bans.

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