Many anti-abortion advocates believe that 20 weeks into a pregnancy is the point at which a fetus can feel pain, and while the premise is up for debate, the North Dakota legislature has made up its mind on the matter. North Dakota’s House approved a proposal that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks today, and the bill is on its way to a governor that is expected to sign it.
The “fetal pain” bill passed the House by a vote of 60 – 32. It joins a similar bill that was approved by North Dakota’s Senate 30 – 17 in February.
The Associated Press reports that the Republican controlled legislature seeks to make North Dakota the most restrictive state in the nation to perform an abortion. Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed several measures aimed at prohibiting abortions during the current legislative session. The “fetal pain” bill shouldn’t cause him to lose much sleep.
The governor has already signed into a law a measure that bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. Heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before some women even know they are pregnant. In those cases, an additional 20 week “fetal pain” ban is just a backup. Or overkill.
North Dakota also has a new law preventing women from having abortions to prevent giving birth to a baby with genetic defects. Another law requires a doctor performing abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges. Lawmakers in the state have explicitly stated that life begins at conception.
With such commitment coming from the state lawmakers, you might understandably assume the state suffers from an epidemic of abortion malpractice.
Nope. Perhaps abortion clinics are popping up all over the place?
Nope again. In fact, there’s just the one. It’s in Fargo, the state’s largest city. Fargo’s not that big of a place, and since it sits on the state’s border with Minnesota, it’s not exactly across the street for most of the state’s residents.
Opponents assert that the laws are unconstitutional and promise a long and costly legal fight for the state. North Dakota’s “fetal pain” bill joins the prior abortion laws taking effect August 1.
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