March 27, 2013

North Dakota to test Roe v. Wade limits

The governor signs the nation's toughest restriction and anticipates a certain legal challenge.

By JAMES MacPHERSON The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Bette Grande
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Rep. Bette Grande, a Republican from Fargo, introduced two of the three tough anti-abortion bills signed into law in North Dakota on Tuesday.

The Associated Press

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Gov. Jack Dalrymple

The Associated Press

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North Dakota's law, which would ban most abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, goes even further than a bill approved earlier this month in Arkansas that establishes a 12-week ban -- prohibiting them when a fetal heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound. That ban is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the Arkansas Legislature adjourns.

A fetal heartbeat can generally be detected earlier in a pregnancy using a vaginal ultrasound, but Arkansas lawmakers balked at requiring women seeking abortions to have the more invasive imaging technique.

North Dakota's legislation doesn't specify how a fetal heartbeat would be detected. Doctors performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected could face a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Women having an abortion would not face charges.

The legislation to ban abortions based on genetic defects also would ban abortion based on gender selection. The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion laws throughout the country, says Pennsylvania, Arizona and Oklahoma also have laws outlawing abortion based on gender selection.

The Republican-led North Dakota Legislature has endorsed a spate of anti-abortion legislation this year. North Dakota lawmakers moved last week to outlaw abortion in the state by passing a resolution defining life as starting at conception, essentially banning abortion in the state. The measure is likely to come before voters in November 2014.

Representatives also endorsed another bill last week that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that fetuses feel pain at that point. That measure awaits Dalrymple's signature.

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