North Dakota on Tuesday became the toughest state in the U.S. to get an abortion.
Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, signed three bills including one that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The other bills outlaw abortion for genetic defects such as Down Syndrome – making North Dakota the first state to do so, according to the Associated Press – and require a doctor performing an abortion to have hospital-admitting privileges.
The law would also ban gender selection abortions.
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Abortion-rights activists plan to mount a legal challenge to the legislation, arguing it would “effectively ban abortion in the state.”
Northlands News Center published a statement released by Dalrymple.
"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,” the statement said.
“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 (which bans abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy), 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."
The AP said doctors performing an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected could be jailed for up to five years and fined $5,000.
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