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North Dakota lawmakers approve abortion restrictions

The North Dakota legislature passed two bills Friday that would place strict limits on abortion, banning non-emergency abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected and barring terminations sought because of genetic abnormalities. HB 1305 and HB 1456 [text, PDF] will go before [WP report] Governor Jack Dalrymple [official website] this week. If signed, HB 1456 would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, an event that occurs at its earliest five to six weeks after conception. HB 1305 would ban abortions performed, "for sex selection or genetic abnormalities." Both measures are expected to face legal challenges if signed by Dalrymple.

A number of states have passed restrictive abortion bills recently. Earlier this month the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." Six days earlier Arkansas lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].

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