N. Dakota Bans Abortions If There's a Heartbeat
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs bill
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 26, 2013 11:26 AM CDT
Gov. Jack Dalrymple delivers the State of the State Address at the Capitol in Bismarck, ND, on Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Will Kincaid)

(Newser) – North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has signed legislation that would ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Republican governor also signed into law another measure that would makes North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome.

Abortion-rights advocates say the measures signed today are an attempt to close the state's sole abortion clinic in Fargo. Supporters of the so-called fetal heartbeat measure say it's a challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. Abortion-rights advocates say the state will have to defend the legislation in a costly legal fight.