North Dakota Legislature to Consider Five Extreme Anti-Choice Bills, All Designed to Ban Safe and Legal Abortion

One measure, SB 2305, copies Mississippi’s legislative efforts to shut down last remaining clinic

(PRESS RELEASE) Committees in both houses of the North Dakota State Legislature will hold hearings this week on five different extreme anti-choice bills aimed at banning safe and legal abortion in the state.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary committee will consider SB 2305, a law designed to shut down North Dakota’s last abortion clinic by imposing medically unwarranted requirements that any physician performing abortions in the state be a board certified or eligible obstetrician-gynecologist with admitting privileges at a local hospital. An almost identical measure passed and signed into law in Mississippi last year is currently being challenged in federal court by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the last abortion provider in that state.

The Senate committee will also hear testimony on three bills (SB 2302, SB 2303, and SB 4009) aimed at defining a “person” as a fertilized human egg—measures that could not only ban all abortions, but also severely threaten some types of contraception and fertility treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization.

On Wednesday, the House Human Services committee will consider a similarly extreme measure (HB 1456) to ban all abortions at the point a fetal heart tone is detected. Because fetal heart tones can be detected as early as five or six weeks of pregnancy, this law would ban abortion before many women even know they are pregnant.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Anti-choice politicians in North Dakota have undertaken an all-out assault on women’s constitutionally protected rights, introducing not one, but five bills that would end safe and legal abortion in the state.

“Whether through tactics that outright ban abortion or backdoor efforts to block women’s access to reproductive health care providers, the end result is the same: women will be gravely harmed.

“We strongly urge the members of these legislative committees to support women’s access to basic health care and reject these extreme measures that are both unconstitutional and dangerous for North Dakota women.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently representing the Red River Women’s Clinic, the state’s last remaining abortion clinic, in a lawsuit to overturn a 2011 law effectively banning the use of medication abortion in North Dakota— a measure that would deny women access to an alternative to surgical abortion that has been widely recognized as safe and effective by medical experts and organizations worldwide. The law has been temporarily blocked by a state judge from enforcement since July 2011 and a trial on the matter will be held in April 2013.