(PRESS RELEASE) Just a week after the North Dakota Senate advanced a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy to Governor Jack Dalrymple's desk, today the House approved three additional measures designed to limit or eliminate women's access to a range of essential reproductive health care, including abortion and fertility treatments.
The House voted to send SB 2305—a law designed to shut down North Dakota's only abortion clinic by imposing medically unwarranted requirements that any physician performing abortions obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital—to the governor's desk for his signature or veto. 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.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, called on Governor Dalrymple to veto SB 2305:
"The scorched-earth campaign of North Dakota politicians to strip women of their constitutional rights and choke off access to essential reproductive health care has already made the state the new U.S. capital of anti-abortion extremism.
"Today's assault on reproductive freedom attempts to disguise politicians\' hostility toward reproductive health care providers as an effort to protect women's health. What this law would actually do is impose upon women facing difficult personal, medical, and economic circumstances additional hardships so severe that some will seek unsafe care outside the law—placing their lives and health at risk of grave harm in the process.
"The women of North Dakota deserve better from their elected representatives than these expressions of contempt for their health and right to make their own decisions about their families, their pregnancies, and their personal, private lives.
"Governor Dalrymple must send a message that the North Dakota legislature's attacks on women, doctors, and the rights of both are as appalling as they are illegal under the U.S. Constitution and four decades of Supreme Court precedent. He must veto this bill."
The House also provided the final vote necessary for SCR 4009, placing a so-called personhood measure on the state ballot in 2014 that could ban abortion, threaten access to some forms of birth control, and interfere with women and families trying to have children using fertility treatments like IVF.
"This ballot measure violates the federal constitution and seriously threatens the rights, life, and health of all North Dakota women," said Northup. "While voters in Mississippi and Colorado resoundingly rejected such extreme measures in years past, our fundamental rights are not and must never be subject to a vote."
An additional bill, SB 2368, banning nearly all abortions at 20 weeks will now go back to the Senate for concurrence on amendments that would prevent North Dakota State University from launching a three-year sex education and life skills program for Fargo-area teens in partnership with Planned Parenthood.
The North Dakota House today narrowly defeated SB 2303, another extreme personhood measures that attempted to define a "person" as a fertilized human egg in the state's criminal code.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently representing the Red River Women's Clinic, the state's only 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.