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“Heartbeat” and Other Abortion Bans Adopted by North Dakota

On Tuesday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill that has been called the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The new law bans abortions in a majority of cases where fetal heartbeat can be detected, which happens usually by six weeks of conception.

The North Dakota Governor signed another abortion bill on the same day banning abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities or on the gender of the fetus.

Dalrymple also passed a third abortion bill requiring physicians who deign to perform abortions in the state to have privileges at a nearby hospital that also permits abortions in its facility.

It is almost a total clamp down on abortions considering that in North Dakota there is only one clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo that performs abortions. So, if you do not live within “nearby” distances of that facility, your doctor may not be able to perform abortions.

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While abortions based solely on the gender of the fetus are obviously wrongful, the question of parents not having a choice when a fetus is detected early with debilitating genetic abnormalities remains debatable.

Abortion rights supporters have stated they would bring challenges in court.

And Dalrymple expects challenges to the controversial abortion bans because he has already stated that lawmakers should start raising money and creating a litigation fund for the state attorney general to defend against possible challenges to the new laws.

The “heartbeat” bill does not provide exceptions to the results of rape, but allows abortions in exceptional cases where the pregnant woman might suffer irreversible impairment or death.

Conceding that many questions remain open, Darlymple said, “These are bills that have passed the legislature. This is what they want to do … They have a legislative right to find out if these laws can stand.”

While the law is scheduled to come into effect from Aug 1, established Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade have found that states cannot pass abortion bans pertaining to periods before the fetus becomes viable.

Nancy Northup, the president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “We will not allow this frontal assault on fundamental reproductive rights to go unchallenged.” She said, “North Dakota has set a new standard for extreme hostility toward the rights and health of women, the U.S. Constitution, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent.”

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