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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. (Read more North Dakota stories.)

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