Bismarck, North Dakota — Legislators in the state of North Dakota have passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation, criminalizing any abortionist that kills a baby after a heartbeat is detected.
Senators voted to approve the “Heartbeat Bill” Friday, sending the legislation to Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple for signing. Dalrymple, who is pro-life, has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bill into law, which will reach his desk on Monday. The House of Representatives approved the legislation days prior.
According to reports, the bill would require any abortionist in the state to check for a fetal heartbeat, which some say can be detected by medical equipment as early as 12 weeks. However, fetal development experts state that an infant’s heart begins beating just 20-25 days after conception.
If the abortionist performs the abortion despite the existence of a heartbeat, he or she would face felony charges, and could spend up to five years in prison and/or pay up to $5,000 in fines. The mother would not face any criminal charges.
The bill does include exceptions, however, for the physical impairment or death of the mother. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
“The images and heartbeat from the womb provide strong and overwhelming evidence of — at the very least — potential life,” said Senator Spencer Berry, a sponsor of the bill. “And we have been instructed by the Supreme Court to protect that very potential.”
Supporters of the bill state that it serves as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade; opponents opine that they expect a lawsuit for the same reason.
In passing the legislation, North Dakota becomes the second state in the nation to pass the “Heartbeat bill.” As previously reported, last week, legislators in Arkansas voted to override the veto of their Democratic governor and make the bill state law.
“I’m just grateful that this body has continued to stand up for the bills that have passed,” said sponsor Senator Jason Rapert. “[I]f there’s a heartbeat, there’s life, and we’re going to stand up for this law, regardless of who opposes it.”
“If I say that I’m pro-life, at some point I have to do something about what I say I believe,” asserted House sponsor Ann Clemer.
A second abortion bill also passed the Senate in North Dakota Friday, which banned abortions in instances of fetal abnormality and gender selection, thus barring mothers from aborting their children if they are diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome or other disability. Similar laws pertaining to gender selection are already in place in three other states: Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona.
North Dakota is also considering placing what is known as the “Personhood Amendment” on the 2014 electoral ballot, which if passed by voters, would enshrine the right to life for the unborn in the state constitution.
“[T]he inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected,” the initial legislation, presented last month, asserted.