Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple has signed into law a measure that outlaws abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that point. The law signed yesterday is the latest among a raft of measures passed in North Dakota this session that are meant to challenge Roe v. Wade. Dalrymple last month signed a law that bans abortion as early as six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected, making North Dakota the most restrictive state in the US in which to get the procedure. At least 10 states have passed bills banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
He also signed into law last month other measures that make the state the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome and require a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges. Abortion-rights activists are promising a court battle and say the measures, which take effect August 1, are aimed at closing North Dakota's sole abortion clinic, the Red River Women's Clinic in downtown Fargo. Meanwhile, activists in Arkansas are suing the state over its own new abortion law, which bans most abortions after 12 weeks if a heartbeat is detected, Politico reports. (Read more Jack Dalrymple stories.)