North Dakota Senate Approves Abortion Bill

Michala McCullough, Editor-in-Chief

The North Dakota Senate approved a bill banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, sending what would be the most strict abortion restrictions in the U.S. to the state’s Republican governor for his signature.

If approved this bill would ban abortions where a fetal heartbeat can be detected, an act that can happen as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. North Dakota Governor, Jack Dalrymple, generally opposes abortion but hasn’t said whether he will sign the bill into law.

It’s another in the long list of anti-abortion measures the North Dakota State Legislature has weighed this session. The bill passed with almost no debate after the Senate approved another measure that would make North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down Syndrome.

That measure would also ban abortion based on gender selection. The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion laws throughout the country, says Pennsylvania, Arizona and Oklahoma already have such laws.

Arkansas passed a 12-week ban earlier this month that prohibits most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound.

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

North Dakota’s measure 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.