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

(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.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple delivers the State of the State Address at the Capitol in Bismarck, ND, on Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013.
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)
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