North Dakota Lawmakers Pass Most Restrictive Abortion Laws in the U.S.; Measures Now Await Governor's Signature

On Friday the North Dakota Senate approved what would be the United States' most restrictive abortion laws. One measure passed would ban abortions in most cases once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (as early as 6 weeks), and a second bill bans abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities or gender.

If signed into law, the ban on abortions based on genetic abnormalities would be the first of its kind in the nation. The ban on abortions based on gender would make North Dakota the fourth state to ban sex-selection abortions.

The so-called "heartbeat" bill provides exceptions if an abortion would prevent the death or irreversible impairment of a pregnant woman but no exceptions for rape.

Both bills passed the state House of Representatives last month, and having passed the Senate on Friday, they'll move on to Governor Jack Dairymple. The governor has not indicated whether he will sign them into law. He is expected to receive the bills on Monday.

Nancy Northup, the Center for Reproductive Rights CEO and president, which represents North Dakota's only clinic that provides abortions, the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, says:

The passage of this law is nothing short of a frontal assault on the U.S. Constitution, 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, and the health and fundamental rights of women."

The center and Planned Parenthood are urging Dairymple to veto both of the bills.

Despite the restrictive nature of the two bills, which are now just one step away from becoming law, North Dakota is not done with considering bills that would put restrictions on abortion, including a proposed amendment to the state constitution that declares that life begins at conception. If the state House approves the provision, it would be put before voters in November 2014.