February 11, 2013 — The North Dakota House on Friday approved two bills that would outlaw abortion in various instances, the Fargo-Moorhead Inforum reports.
The first measure (HB 1456) would require physicians to inform a pregnant woman if the fetal heartbeat is detectable and would prohibit abortion after that time. A provider convicted of performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second measure (HB 1305) would ban abortion based on the sex of the fetus or in cases of fetal abnormalities, defined as "any physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome, albinism, Amelia or any other type of physical or mental disability, abnormality or disease." Physicians who perform abortions in such cases could face up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. The bill would not allow exceptions if the fetus died in the womb, according to state Rep. Kylie Oversen (D), who voted against it.
State Rep. Kathy Hawken (R), who voted against both measures, said, "With these bills, we know we're going to court," adding, "If they are found to be unconstitutional, we are not only going to pay our share but the other share as well."
The bills now head to the state Senate (Jerke, Fargo-Moorhead Inforum, 2/8).
Senate Approves Two Bills
Meanwhile, the North Dakota Senate on Thursday approved two antiabortion measures while rejecting opponents' attempts to set aside money for lawsuits that might ensue if the bills become law, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
One of bills seeks to amend the state constitution to guarantee a right to life for every "human being at any stage of development." The amendment will be placed before voters on the November 2014 ballot, according to the AP/Journal-Constitution.
Another measure approved on Thursday would require doctors who perform abortions to be board-certified ob-gyns with hospital admitting privileges.
Tammi Kromenaker -- director of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, the state's only abortion provider -- said the bills are "clearly intended to regulate abortion out of existence in North Dakota."
Some supporters of the bills said their goal is to directly challenge the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. However, Sen. Spencer Berry (R) -- who sponsored the measure requiring physicians to have hospital admitting privileges -- said his goal is to ensure that women get the best medical care available, not to undermine Roe.
Rejected Senate Measures
The Senate rejected three attempts by Sen. Connie Triplett (D) to amend the bills to set aside $1 million for expected court battles. Triplett said, "All of these bills clearly will go to litigation." She added that it was irresponsible of lawmakers to pass controversial measures without approving funds to cover lawsuits.
The Senate also rejected a bill that would have punished individuals who fail to provide "ethical treatment of human embryos," which critics said could have prevented couples from using in-vitro fertilization (Hunt, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/7).