North Dakota Passes Strictest Abortion Law in Country

BlogHer Original Post

I thought it was over. I really did. After last year’s obsessive focus by conservatives to restrict women’s rights, to control our personal decisions about our health and our families, I thought they might back off. Get the message. They lost the election, and badly.

But never underestimate the power of the anti-abortion lobby and the "Personhood" folks--and, make no mistake, they’re a
well-financed lobby as surely as the tobacco industry is
--to ignore what the majority of Americans want.

Today, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law the most restrictive abortion measure in the country, virtually ignoring the constitutional protections for women enshrined by Roe v. Wade.

Using a fetal heartbeat as the measure, the law would ban abortion as early as six weeks—before many women even know they’re pregnant. Oh, and there is this: there would be no exceptions for rape, if a woman’s health was threatened, or if she could lose the pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities. This comes on top of two other anti-abortion measures the governor signed into law last week.

And people thought the soda ban in New York was invasive.

Never mind that the decision infringes on women’s religious beliefs, or that it’s a decision that should rest solely with a woman and her doctor. Never mind that North Dakota has one abortion clinic in Fargo, a facility the governor and the legislators who passed this insidious bill have never set foot in. They are determined to shut it down.

Yesterday hundreds of North Dakotans in the sparsely populated state came from Bismarck and other towns to Fargo to protest the bill.

Credit Image: Afiler on Flickr

As Planned Planned Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota President and CEO, Sarah Stoesz said in a statement about the out-of-touch bills:

One thing became clear during the last few weeks: North Dakotans do not want to see politicians interfering with the personal medical decisions of women. Hundreds of grassroots activists spoke loudly and clearly as these bills moved through the legislature. Planned Parenthood was proud to play a role in amplifying the voices of North Dakotans who bravely stood in opposition to this abortion ban.”

I haven’t even mentioned the most insidious part yet. Last week the GOP-controlled legislature and the governor approved a Personhood amendment that will be on the 2014 state ballot. The bill would not only ban abortion at the moment of conception—it would essentially make in vitro fertilization and some forms of hormonal birth control illegal. They did this knowing that “personhood” measures were overwhelmingly defeated in Mississippi and Colorado. But they also did it fully expecting an expensive and lengthy court battle.

As Dalrymple blithely admitted in a statement:

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. 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 in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question.

It is to him, and to other legislators who don't respect women's rights.

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