North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple should not sign any of the legislature's half-dozen bills that seek to subvert a well-established constitutional right to abortion.
Late last week, the North Dakota legislature passed a bill that would ban a woman from having an abortion as soon as the heartbeat of the fetus is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. If Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs it into law, North Dakota will have the ignominious distinction of being the most restrictive state in the country on abortion.
A measure to ban abortions so early — at a point when many women don't yet know they're pregnant — is not only repressive and extreme but also likely to be struck down in the courts as a violation of the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe vs. Wade that women have a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb. (That's about 24 weeks.)
The heartbeat bill is just one of half a dozen pieces of legislation restricting access to abortion that are passed and headed to Dalrymple's desk or may soon be. The legislature also passed a bill banning abortions for gender selection or because of a genetic abnormality. Additionally, the legislature is considering a total ban on abortion at 20 weeks, two measures that define "personhood" as starting at conception, and one that would require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. As Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research group, notes, "They're throwing everything against the wall and trying to find something that sticks."