North Dakota Governor Signs 6-Week Abortion Ban Bill
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a bill Tuesday banning all abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, the most restrictive qualifications in the country. The law makes it a felony for any doctor to perform a nonemergency abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Gov. Dalrymple also signed a bill that that makes abortions based on genetic defects like Down syndrome illegal, and another that says abortions can only be performed by doctors who have "hospital-admitting privileges," according to Bloomberg.
While Dalrymple acknowledged the bill - which would go into effect Aug. 1- faced a fierce fight from pro-choice activists, he said the law was directly aimed at addressing the infamous 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Roe v. Wade, that made abortion legal up to the point when a fetus is deemed "viable" outside of the womb, typically around 22 to 24 weeks.
"Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade," Dalrymple said, according to USA Today. "Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction ... the constitutionality of this measure is an open question."
Abortion-rights advocates have called on Republican Gov. Dalrymple to reconsider, and veto the new bills, deeming them "extreme and dangerous," and also promised to lobby against the measure. Dalrymple has asked the state's House of Representatives to prepare for such a battle, saying in his statement that the legislature "should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund."
When a fetus is six-weeks-old it is normally tinier than the size of a dime, and women often don't have any idea they're pregnant, according to the Mayo Clinic. The newly signed bill makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Dalrymple's controversial move arrives hot on the heels of the state legislature's Friday approval of a "personhood" bill that would outlaw abortions, period. If the law is approved by North Dakota residents in 2014, it would be the first such complete ban in the country.
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