North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday signed three bills into law aimed at curbing abortions, giving the state the most anti-abortion laws of any U.S. state, Forum Communications reports.
Among them is a bill that would ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected – as early as six weeks into some pregnancies pregnancy, the Associated Press reported.
Another bill signed by the Republican governor would make North Dakota the first state to prohibit abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome.
North Dakota has one abortion clinic, located in Fargo. Abortion rights advocates say Dalrymple and anti-abortion lawmakers are effectively trying to close the clinic.
Legal challenges to the laws are likely. The abortion rights activists say the "fetal heartbeat" measure is a direct challenge to the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision in which the court ruled that abortion was legal until a fetus is considered viable, at about 22 to 24 weeks, the Associated Pres reported.
Here's what the governor released about his three decisions, Forum reports:
"I have signed HB 1305 which would ban abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities.
"I have signed HB 1456 which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question. The Legislative Assembly before it adjourns should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General.
"I have signed SB 2305 which requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota. The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions."