N.D. Abortion Restrictions Draw Swift Rebukes

March 28, 2013 — Following North Dakota's enactment of legislation (HB 1456) to ban abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" interviewed Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards about the law's repercussions for women, abortion bans in other states and the legal landscape in the abortion-rights debate.

North Dakota has "effectively banned access to safe and legal abortion," which is "not only outrageous but unconstitutional," Richards said. "Lives are being put in jeopardy" when women cannot access legal abortion, she added.

She noted that North Dakota is among multiple states -- including Arkansas, which recently outlawed abortion after 12 weeks -- where lawmakers have "chosen to side with the extreme right wing over [the state's] women." She added, "[I]t is chilling to think that for women in America, your rights now depend on your Zip code."

Richards predicted that some state abortion restrictions will ultimately reach the Supreme Court, which she hopes "will honor judicial precedent, that this is a right women and men have had for 40 years and won't let it [be taken] away" (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 3/27).

N.D. Gov. Dalrymple 'Sincere' But 'Wrong,' Editorial States

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) was undoubtedly "sincere when he signed three bills that will make North Dakota's anti-abortion laws the most restrictive in the nation," but "being sincere does not ameliorate being wrong," a Forum of Fargo-Moorhead editorial states, adding that the "fallout will be consequential."

The editorial continues, "The notion that North Dakota can lead a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision ... [is] not realistic." The state's passage of "anti-woman, anti-medical science legislation that ham-handedly interferes in the doctor-patient relationship" and "criminaliz[es] doctors who serve their patients" will drive physicians, women and families out of the state, the editorial predicts.

Further, the measure "will not prevent a single abortion." Ironically, the "same lawmakers who railroaded the anti-abortion bills through the Legislature oppose a university research project designed in part to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The hypocrisy is mindboggling," the editorial notes (Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 3/27).