On the heels of a measure that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and in the midst of a purposeful challenge to Roe v. Wade, North Dakota's legislature has sent another restrictive abortion bill to be signed by Governor Jack Dalrymple—and this one would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks or pregnancy, built on the premise that fetuses feel pain. "The so-called 'fetal pain' bill passed the House with a 60-32 vote," the AP reported Friday afternoon. "The bill, which was approved by the Senate 30-17 in February, now goes to the Republican governor, who has hinted he will sign it."
So, soon enough, the easiest way to get an abortion in the North Dakota area is going to be a trip to Minnesota. If (and more like when) Dalrymple signs this bill into law, North Dakota will become one of almost two dozen states to pass a "fetal pain" law. But it's just the latest way that the North Dakota legislature has chipped into Roe v. Wade, which gives women a constitutionally-protected right to abortion services until a medically-accepted point of viability—around 22-24 weeks. But, yeah, this is the same North Dakota legislature which, in March, advanced a bill that banned after six weeks of pregnancy—meaning this latest 20-week ban overlaps with that six-week ban. (Pro-choice advocates argue that six weeks is too early, as most women find out they're pregnant between weeks four and seven weeks, according to the American Pregnancy Organization.)
Both of those will go into effect on August 1. And that means, come August 1, the one abortion clinic in the state will be out of work. Which also brings up the question: Why are all these restrictive measures on abortion being passed in a state where only one place can perform?
As the left-leaning Think Progress writes, it's not about the state's abortion clinic: Dalrymple "admitted he signed the legislation specifically because he wants to invite a legal battle that could test the limits of Roe v. Wade," TP's Tara Culp-Ressler wrote this week, noting that the impending legal fights aren't going to come cheap, as the state's Attorney General has already asked for—and was granted—a $400,000 budget increase to defend the state against abortion-rights activists.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.